As it brings its fourth feature, Paola Ochoa’s “Hermanas,” to Sanfic’s works in progress, Amplitud has unveiled a new production,“Farruca” from Spain’s Ian de la Rosa.
Based in L.A., the upstart production company was born from a desire to foster co-production between Latin American countries and the U.S. with a specific focus on queer and/or female narratives.
The company was founded by Axel Shalson, Pau Brunet and Jana Díaz Juhl, the highly-connected producers of indie festival hits such as SXSW Special Jury winner “10,000 Km,” Tribeca Jury Award winner “We are the Heat” and Catalan Academy Gaudi Award winner “Anchor and Hope.”
According to Brunet, “The stories we want to support don’t portray the mainstream universe, but we want them to be universal.”
“Films made by talented women, telling compelling stories about underrepresented groups are what interest us,” echoed Shalson. “And we have had the luxury so far of never having to compromise on the quality of a film just because we wanted to advance the director, or the story being told.”
It’s with that desire to give screen time to underrepresented communities that Amplitud has backed “Farruca,” with a long-term plan to transition the short into a feature. Directed by trans filmmaker De la Rosa, the project also fits nicely into a catalog which backs filmmakers from outside the white male archetype. Charlotta Schiavon’s Vayolet Films will co-produce in Spain.
Plot details are still under wraps, but Brunet told Variety that “‘Farruca’ is a story set in the Spanish-Moroccan community in the south of Spain. They are outcasts, but they want to be seen.”
Since its inception, the company has participated on four features, three from female directors including Lila Aviles’ breakout indie box office hit boasting a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes “The Chambermaid,” Catalina Arroyave’s SXSW CherryPicks Female First Feature Award winner “Days of the Whale” and Antón Terni’s “Mirador,” set to premiere this November.
The Amplitud team’s next stop, however, is at Chile’s Sanfic festival, where they will be screening Paola Ochoa’s documentary feature debut “Hermanas” (Sisters), in the festival’s Work in Progress section.
Intimate and introspective, “Hermanas” documents the annual summer vacation shared by Ochoa’s aunts and mother, four sisters in their 60s. By recording honest and often lighthearted conversations between the women, Ochoa juxtaposes ideas of womanhood between generations of Colombian women.
“These females are specifically Colombian but incredibly universal,” Juhl explained of Amplitud’s interest in the project. “We loved the idea of being involved in a film that portrayed the lives of four mature women in such an intimate fashion. The fact that we are so immersed in this family gave the story an almost magic-realist quality.”
“The film came from Paola’s personal journey, and from the moment we saw the trailer we felt there was something there,” added Brunet. “We caught a very rough cut and decided to jump into the project producing and financing.”
“For me what makes ‘Hermanas’ so unique is the intimacy with which every scene is portrayed,” said Juan Sebastián Sarmiento, the film’s Colombian producer. “Through her camera, Paola transports us to a place where her aunts talk and live freely. It’s rare in film to see adult women living genuinely and sharing their honest thoughts. Their wisdom shines a light on the roles women and men play in our society, and what the future could look like.”
Ochoa talked with Variety about shooting her first feature, her family’s story and the lines between documentary and fiction she hopes to play with in the future.
How do you approach telling your family’s story as cinema and not just a home movie?
What makes “Hermanas” cinema lies in its point of view. The film shapes real life into a dramatic structure, finds poetry in those daily life images and creates an experience for the audience. It explores each character’s storyline to reflect a specific experience of being a female. We worked on developing each element of the film into an experience that could transcend the privacy of my own family. The greatest challenge was finding how my own story intertwined with those of the women in my family.
What did you learn about yourself and your family in the process of shooting this film?
I think most of what I learned from the process can be seen in the film, as it is a journey that ends up being kind of coming-of-age, an exchange of wisdom between two generations, that are more clearly represented in my mother and myself.
Do you see yourself as a documentary filmmaker, or would you also like to do fiction?
I see myself mainly as a documentary filmmaker, but I feel hybrids are pushing forward cinematic language, and that the most interesting films I have seen recently are those on the frontiers of the genres. My next projects will most likely navigate that line between documentary and fiction.
The stories in “Hermanas” come from, and are representative of, an older generation in Colombia. How do you think younger audiences will relate to them?
Younger generations like my own have been educated by mothers and grandmothers that lived under different beliefs, customs and rules. The process of growing up as a woman has to do with what you learn from older generations, but also with the things we decide to do differently, the changes originated by the new generations that push society forward. I feel anyone that was raised by women can relate to the situations of intimacy between women represented in the film.