Christian Camargo (“Hurt Locker,” “Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn”) and Michael Chernus (“Spiderman: Homecoming,” “Captain Phillips”) are attached to co-star in “Ona Sur,” one of the buzzed-up projects at Match Me!, one of Locarno Festival’s industry sections.
Brazilian actress Barbara Colen is in preliminary talks to play Maria, one of the film’s female leads, “Ona Sur” producer Gabriela Gavica at Mexico’s Mandarina Cine said at Locarno’s Match Me! forum.
Lead-produced by Gavica and producer-director Carlos Hernández at Mandarina Cine, a Mexico City production-distribution house, “Ona Sur” is co-produced by Switzerland’s Lunica Productions, headed by Yves Bouzaglo.
Joseph Mastantuono, whose first feature as a producer, Miles Joris-Peyrafitte’s “As You Are,” won the Special Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic category at the Sundance Film Festival, is also on board as a co-producer.
Presented at Los Cabos Festival in November, “Ona Sur” marks the feature debut of Spain’s Brooklyn-based Begoña Colomar, who has worked as a CG and color grading artist on “A.I. Minority Report” and “The Day After Tomorrow,” and games such as “James Bond 007: From Russia with Love” and “The Godfather.”
Camargo and Chernus’ commitments for “Ona Sur” represents recognition for a project which captures the spirit of the times, and the female focus on a significant number of the most compelling projects being made outside the U.S.
Also written by Colomar, “Ona Sur” is, the director says, a “psychological comedy.” It turns on Ona, described as an intelligent and exuberant Italian architect working out of Mexico City who is now cut adrift, mourning a difficult divorce. She befriends Maria, a Belizean Creole and accomplished musician who is also in freefall, near to nervous breakdown, after losing her home and husband in a recent earthquake.
Over a Holy Week vacation, a close friendship and a new sense of purpose develops between them as they drink mezcal, listen to music, play with Pancho, Ona’s dog, and talk. Choosing to play “to defy their trauma – joy against the pain and levity to move forward with resilience,” a synopsis reads.
Meanwhile, and adding a surrealistic edge to events, uncorroborated number of large felines to escape into the streets. The compromised local police force impose a curfew, patrolling the streets with loudspeakers warning residents of the danger.
Mocking the rigidity of rules which for the two women have ceased to be important, “Ona Sur” is a tale of spiritual rebirth.
Camargo will play Ivo, Ona’s ex-husband, described as a famous and self-centered jazz pianist-composer who has put his career above his marriage with the unsurprising consequence of divorce.
Chernus is Anton, “a self declared nihilist, a writer of esoteric fiction novels and a beloved neighbor of Ona. His brutal honesty and good heart unite the two making them perfect accomplices in the face of any political hypocrisy,” according to an “Ona Sur” lookbook.
“Ona Sur” paints the life and particularities of two strong female characters, resilient, idealist and empowered whom through their friendship, liberty and creativity will overcome their traumas; complex feminine roles that are scarcely represented on the screen,” Gavica and Hernández said in a statement.
“The film will be steeped in meticulously crafted style, paying homage to Mexico City, and its contrasting styles, a tangle of beautiful disparities,” says Colomar.
She adds: “It is not accidental that the film is greatly influenced by the spirit of the Dadá movement and the modern architects who envisioned a world of structural beauty to affect human emotions.”
Founded in 2014 by Hernandez, betting on a new generation of national talents, Mandarina’s recent credits include Gabriel Mariño’s body transmigration tale and 2017 Morelia winner “Yesterday Wonder I Was” and Alvaro Curiel’s “Marionette,” a romantic drama take on Cuban immigration to Mexico and the plight of women exposed to mob patriarchy. It was selected for Ventana Sur’s Copia Final and a 2019 Guadalajara Festival Fipresci Award winner.