The Guadalajara Film Festival’s industry centerpiece, its Encuentro de Co-produccion, a springboard for Latin American feature film projects, unspools this week online, as directors and producers look to catch the eye of the international marketplace and secure key sales, distribution and production partners.

Guadalajara has long rejected the idea that gender-based quotas are needed when programming a festival while demonstrating an organic level of inclusion in its industry sections that should make some European festivals blush. The 2020 Meeting is no exception. More than half of the projects set to pitch this week are directed by women, with just as many featuring female producers or co-producers.

As important as any statistics though, the kinds of films that women are pitching at Guadalajara break moulds as well. Gone are the days when the industry expected women directors to tell women’s stories. Now, the women pitching at Guadalajara can present horror, coming of age, thriller and comedy projects with the confidence that they will be judged on the merit of their work rather than their gender.

In addition to returning Encuentro partners Churubusco, Cinema 226, El Taller, Pablo Mondragón, 2.35 Digital and Marketing Movie Runner, this year’s Encuentro received new backing from several major sponsors, meaning more is up for grabs for the participating projects.

The Gabriel García Márquez Studios, one of Mexico’s largest independent production studios, are offering the GGM Studios Production Services prize, valued at $1.5 million Mexican pesos ($74,000); film and TV post-production house Cinematic Media will award services valued at $750,000 Mexican pesos ($37,000); multi-national Equipment Film & Design (EFD) offers up two equipment packages for shoots, on documentary and one fiction; sound and music company Sonata Films will aid in post-production of sound for a fiction feature to the value of $400,000 Mexican pesos ($19,750); and Olivares will provide legal guidance – including contract issues, clearance and regulatory work – valued at $200,000 Mexican pesos ($9,875).

Due to its international nature, Guadalajara’s industry sections have been forced to adopt an online model, and the festival has recruited digital solutions company Risolviamo to host the festivities. The platform will allow for scheduling of one-on-one meetings and access to video conferences with an easy to use interface.

Below, a brief look at the 21 projects selected for the 2020 Guadalajara Co-Production Meetings.

“Spaceman,” (Paul Vega, Peru, Argentina)

Backed by strong producers – Tío Malo and Tondero in Peru and Cepacine in Argentina, this story of a TV presenter and frustrated writer looking back on his life is currently looking for European co-producers.

“The Road Is a Red Thread,” (Melissa Elizondo, Mexico)

The second doc feature from Elizondo after Thessaloniki and Morelia player “The Sower.” This time, she examines how women protect themselves against a rising tide of gender-based violence in Mexico.

“Ceremony,” (Dan Chávez, Mexico)

An alum of Barcelona’s ESCAC, Chávez’s feature debut turns on Maria, the conductor of Jalisco’s Philharmonic with broader aspirations, challenged by a new rival.

“Once I Left to Become Maria,” (Sofía Castellanos, Mexico, Turkey)

A generational story of a mother and daughter, each in a period of newfound freedom, sharing their learned experiences of womanhood. Muchachxs Salvajes and Tardigrada Producciones co-produce.

“Let the Dance Begin,” (Marina Seresesky, Spain, Argentina)

Backed once again by Sereseky’s “La puerta abierta” producer Álvaro Lavín, this road trip film follows a trio of elderly travelers with a shared secret and desire to tango.

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Let the Dance Begin Credit: Marina Seresesky

“La Felicidad,” (Pepe San Martin, Chile, Argentina)

Sold by Spanish company Latido Films, who also represented San Martin and producer Macarena López’s Berlin Generation winner “Rara,” this project turns on Ana, a 65-year-old retiree with a dream of swimming the Beagle Channel.

“To the South,” (Camila Selser, Nicaragua)

Based on Selser’s eponymous short, in which young Dario looks for a place to call home. Along his journey, the boy uncovers a past of lies and war crimes which preface his own violent story.

“Huesera,” (Michelle Garza Cervera, Mexico)

A haunting horror thriller, “Huesera” sees hopeful mother Valeria visited by a foreboding spirit, La Huesera, which causes her to doubt if motherhood is for her. Disruptiva Films founder Paulina Villavicencio produces.

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Huesera Credit: Disruptiva

“The Young Ones,” (Segundo Arregui, Argentina)

Set at a rural spiritual retreat, adolescents cohabiting for the first time explore budding desires when Nahuel grows closer than expected with guide Valentín. Debut feature produced by Navega Cine.

“Kaye,” (Juan Cáceres, Chile)

Chilean cinema has excelled at Guadalajara recently with features such as Infractor films-produced “Perro Bomba,” and the filmmaker-producer combo from that film are back with trap music-fueled “Kaye,” about a 12-year-old girl who loses her best friend to a stray bullet.

“The Machine That Destroys Memories of the Future,” (Lucas Turturro, Argentina)

Con artist Agustín attends alternative group therapy sessions for maladies he hasn’t got, using the safe spaces to steal info from other participants. Aleph Cine produces, looking for international partners.

“María Montaña,” (Bárbara Ochoa Castañeda, Mexico)

María’s is 40 and doesn’t want kids, causing her partner to leave. When her sister returns after 20 years apart, she must mend old wounds to salvage another relationship. Ixchel Coutiño produces for Atlantida Cine.

“Neon,” (Ángel Molina, Paraguay, Nicaragua)

Molina’s passion for addressing human rights issues inspires this story of a teacher and a drag singer who fall in love, but an HIV diagnosis solicits prejudice and fear, threatening the relationship.

“Children of the Wind,” (Katherina Harder Sacre, Chile)

Award-winning shingle Maltrato films produces this story of three young siblings who flee their orphanage to avoid being separated, embarking on an epic adventure across Chile’s diverse terrain, from the desert to the sea.

“The Dusk of the Amazon,” (Alvaro Sarmiento, Peru, Colombia)

From Guadalajara’s 2020 guest country Peru, this indigenous documentary follows a group of indigenous Huitoto as they investigate the history of colonialism in the Peruvian Amazon. Sarmiento’s brother Diego produces with Colombia’s Anakaa co-producing.

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The Dusk of the Amazon Credit: Alvaro, Diego Sarmiento

“Ozogoche,” (Joe Houlberg, Ecuador, Brazil)

This documentary uses the unusual migratory cycle of the Upland Sandpiper birds as an allegory of human migration, which frequently sees travelers set off with no plan of returning. Acuador’s Boton Films produces.

“Queen Bee,” (Denisse Arancibia, Bolivia, Spain)

Body image features heavily once again for filmmaker and “Las Malcogidas” actor Denisse Arancibia. This is the story of Julieta; whose only desire is to get fat until she dies. Regular Arancibia collaborator Victoria Guerrero returns to produce.

“Sujo,” (Astrid Rondero, Mexico, Spain)

Corpulenta in Mexico and Spain’s Nephilim Producciones co-produce the story of a gunman’s son and the unlikely path of a cartel orphan to a future far different than circumstances might normally suggest. The second feature as a director of the writer-producer of “Identifying Features,” a 2020 Sundance Audience Award and Special Jury Award winner, the latter for best screenplay, among multiple festival plaudits.

“The Whisper of the River,” (Paloma Valencia, Colombia)

Henry Rincon and Ana María Mayo from Colombia’s Hero Films produce this debut feature from Lee Strasberg grad Paloma Valencia, about a 16-year-old who defies the legends of her people and stares down a chaotic reality.

“Only One Spring,” (Joaquin Pedretti, Argentina, Paraguay)

A 1947-set period piece turning on a young Paraguayan woman who falls in love with a civil war prisoner. As the war rages, she finds herself pregnant and alone, forced to flee the country. Argentine producers Productora de la Tierra and Cyan Productions are joined by Sabaté Films from Paraguay.

“Words Behind Bars,” (Ivan Melo, Brazil)

Former Sao Paulo Film Festival executive producer Ivan Melo of Cup Filmes produces this human rights documentary with an anthropological spirit. “Words Behind Bars” examines the long-term consequences of imprisonment and how it marks an individual for life.

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Words Behind Bars Credit: Ilaine Melo