San Sebastian Co-Production Forum: Lerman, Altuna, Avila, Rondon Make Cut

MADRID  —  Diego Lerman’s “Literature Teacher,” Asier Altuna’s “Karmele,” Benjamín Avila’s “The Cardinal” and Mariana Rondón’s “Zafari” will pitch at the 8th San Sebastian Europe-Latin American Co-production Forum, now firmly established as, along with Ventana Sur, the key art film meet exploring that axis.

Featuring new projects from other name auteurs from the region- Pablo Giorgelli, Neto Villalobos, for example –  as well as top producers working Europe Latin American production – Tu Vas Voir, Campo Cine, Patagonik, Malbicho Cine, Tarea Fina – the Forum, running Sept.22-25, will attract most of San Sebastian’s now 2,000-plus industry delegates, while offering a glimpse of the market trends now forging the regions’ filmmaking.

Here, for starters, are three:


One is a step up in scale, or move towards the mainstream. After winning the Cannes Festival’s Camera d’Or for best first feature with “Las Acacias,” which took place largely in a lorry, Giorgelli’s “Transfondo,” produced by Juan Pablo Miller’s Buenos Aires based Tarea Fina, comes in at Argentina’s 1981-86 dictatorship from  a new angle, a submarine-set war movie unspooling during the Falklands War, “a picture about 30-men shut up for 40 days in a sub, in which things don’t go well at all,” Giorgelli told website Noticine.

Produced by San Sebastian’s Tintxua Films, “Karmele,” from top Basque auteur Altuna (“Amama”), follows a woman and her family and how they are impacted by Spain’s 20th century – the Spanish Civil Guard, political exile, Franco’s dictatorship and the financial consequences of exile.

A potential move towards the mainstream, Lerman’s “Literature Teacher,” produced by Nicolás Avruj at Campo Cine, is a hope-tinged drama set at secondary school in Buenos Aires’ violent, marginalized outer radius.


Another trend is co-production. Without it, it is now difficult to make an arthouse film of budgetary ambition, as the pre-sales make for art films all but disappears. 11 of the 16 projects pitched at the Forum already have an international co-production partner.

Avila’s “The Cardinal,” for example, set up from last year as a co-production between Chile’s Storyboard Media and Argentina’s Magma Cine, has a Brazilian partner on board. A historical true-events-based drama, it is set in 1973 Chile, after Augusto Pinochet’s military coup, following Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez’s halting, agonized build to frontal opposition to Pinochet’s murderous regime. Avila (“Clandestine Childhood”) directs.

“Daughter of Rage,” from Laura Baumeister, is being structured as a four-way co-production between Nicaragua, México, the Netherlands and Germany.

Produced by Daniel Van Hoogstraten’s Syndrome Films, “Streets of Glory,” continuing Brazilian Felipe Sholl’s exploration of sexuality, seen in debut “The Other End,” is set up as co-production with France.

Paris-based production company Tu Vas Voir is in advanced negotiations to bring in a Luxembourg partner on “Almamula,” Argentine Juan Sebastián Torales fiction feature debut. It turns on Nino, aged 12, who is assaulted for being homosexual. Moved by guilt and shame, he’ll do everything to attract the Almamula: a creature that, legend has it, captures forever those who commit an impure sexual act. Pilar Peredo produces.


Disasters and injustice in Latin America are too terrible to ignore, Peruvian Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa wrote decades ago.

Those social-concerns remain. “Daughter of Rage” is a mother-daughter relationship drama set at a rubbish drama in Managua, Nicaragua.  In “The Judges,” from Guatemala’s Cesar Díaz – whose Cannes Critics’ Week player “Our Mothers” won this year’s Camera d’Or – some neighbors in a conflictive Guatemalan hood take justice into their own hands, as official justice fails.

Produced by Uruguay’s Malbicho Cine, whose Sandino Saravia took an associate producer credit on “Roma,” Gerardo Minutti’s “Dogs” is described as a “singular comedy,” turning on a man who tries to give up a life of crime. He fails.

In “Sleepless Ana,” from Daniel Gil, produced by director brothers César y José Esteban Alenda (“Sin Fin”), a mother searches for her daughter, a sex-trade victim, she believes.

Supported by the Sundance Institute, “Dos estaciones,” from Mexico’s Juan Pablo González, turns on a Mexican tequila plant owner, facing the end of her empire.

A social conscience, however, does not preclude entertainment. Produced by Argentina’s Pucara Cine, behind Benjamín Naishtat’s “Rojo,” the Buenos Aires-set “The Dirty Ones” has a marked thriller edge. Directed by Ulises Porra (“Tigre”), it turns on a boxing referee from the Balkans who refuses to fix a fight, is marked by the mob, but stumbles on a former Albanian warlord, guilty of crimes against humanity. He conceives a plan to set mob and mass murderer at each other’s throats.

Very little is known of “Zafari,” from Rondón, a San Sebastian Golden Shell winner, nor of “The Time We Lost,” from Gustavo Rondón Cordova, whose “Familia” played Cannes Critics’ Week to applause; nor  or “Curuzú, from Argentina’s Ana García, whose debut “Good Intentions” has just been selected for Toronto’s Discovery and San Sebastian’s New Directors sections; nor “Love is the Monster“ from Costa Rican talent-to-track Ernesto Villalobos (“All About the Feathers.,” “Helmet Heads”).

Their freshness, however, will be one of the Forum’s attractions.



Chosen projects (title, director, lead production company, producing countries):

“Almamula,” (Juan Sebastián Torales, Tu Vas Voir, France, Argentina, Luxembourg)

“Curuzú,” (Ana García Blaya, NOS, Argentina, Paraguay)

“Love is the Monster,” (“Amor es el monstruo,” Neto Villalobos Brenes, Ceibita Films, Costa Rica, Chile)

“Sleepless Ana,” (“Ana no duerme,” Daniel Gil Suárez, Solita Films, Spain, Argentina)

“Dos estaciones,” (Juan Pablo González González, Cine Bandada Sapi, Sin sitio cine, Mexico)

“The Cardinal,” (“El cardenal,” Benjamín Avila, Producciones Storyboard Media Limitada, Chile, Argentina, Brazil)

“Literature Teacher,” (“El maestro de literatura,” Diego Lerman, Campo Cine, Argentina, Brazil)

“The Time We Lost,” (“El tiempo que perdimos,” Gustavo Rondón Córdova, Genuino Films, Mexico, Venezuela, France)

“Karmele,” (Asier Altuna Iza, Txintxua Films, Spain, France)

“Daughter of Rage,” (“La hija de todas las rabias,” Laura Baumeister, Felipa Films, Nicaragua, Mexico, Netherlands, Germany)

“The Judges,” (“Los jueces,” César Díaz, Need Productions, Belgium)

“The Dirty Ones,” (“Los sucios,” Ulises Porra Guardiola, Pucara Cine, Argentina)

“Dogs,” (“Perros,” Gerardo Minutti, Malbicho Cine, Uruguay)

“Streets of Gloria,” (“Calles de la gloria,” Felipe Sholl, Syndrome Films, Brazil, France)

“Trasfondo,” (Pablo Giorgelli, Tarea Fina, Argentina)

“Zafari,” (Mariana Rondón, Prod. a la media noche y media Sudaca Films, Venezuela, Peru)

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