In a deal struck on the cusp of San Sebastian Film Festival, Germany’s Pandora Filmproduktion has boarded “Riders,” the latest project from Martín Rejtman, hailed as the founding father of the New Argentine Cinema.
Written by Rejtman, “Riders” (“El Repartidor Está en Camino”) will be presented to further potential partners at this weekend’s 9th’s San Sebastian Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum.
Set up at Buenos Aires’ Un Puma, headed by Jerónimo Quevedo and María Victoria Marotta, “Riders” will be co-produced by Joao Matos at Portugal’s Terratreme Filmes and now Pandora, one of Europe’s most active co-production partners, working on new films by established directors such as Claire Denis, as well as emerging talent from around the world.
Conceived during COVID-19, and currently at screenplay development, “Riders” will turn on Buenos Aires food delivery app bike riders, most recently arrived from Venezuela, whose numbers grew exponentially during Argentina’s lockdown.
“There are times of the day, mostly at night, when they seem to be the only people in the city,” Rejtman said in August.
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Homing in on one delivery rider in particular, the doc feature will focus on his life as a young immigrant in a big city and his contact via Skype, WhatsApp and Zoom with his family and friends in Venezuela. In its final stretches, “Riders” relocates to Venezuela to investigate delivery services in that country as well.
“The pandemic accelerated a new economic reality with massive changes in our interactions within our communities,” Rejtman told Variety.
Delivery app services generate fierce debate over labor policies being seen as “a shared economy for some, precarious for others,” Reitman observed.
The director began to develop “Riders” during the lockdown. He is also continuing to work on “The Practice,” his latest fiction feature which Pandora is also co-producing.
Bringing down the flag on the New Argentine Cinema, Rejtman’s 1991 feature debut “Rapado,” was selected by compatriot Lucrecia Martel to re-screen at Locarno this year, as the festival showcased outstanding titles from its past. “I went to a ‘Rapado’ screening and for the first time, cinema was not something foreign to me,” Martel recalled.
The director is famed for his singular fiction features — “Rapado,” 1999’s “Silvia Prieto,” 2003’s “The Magic Gloves” and 2014’s “Two Shots Fired — distinguished by their seemingly random events and a through line of off-beat humor.
Rejtman directed a documentary, “Copacabana,” in 2006, which takes a similarly observational approach to its subject. In “Riders,” which Rejtman himself describes as “observational,” he will shoot “with no fixed idea of what we wish to discover or expose or say. I imagine each instance of the shoot as a lead that gives new clues for the investigation.”