Producer of Argentina’s Oscar entry “Sleepwalkers,” Juan Pablo Miller’s Buenos Aires-based Tarea Fina has unveiled “El Hijo Deseado,” the next film by Berlinale Jury Grand Prix winner Ariel Rotter (“The Other,” “Incident Light”).
Its announcement comes as Tarea Fina advances on post-production of “La Encomienda,” from Pablo Giorgelli, whose “Las Acacias” was awarded the Cannes Festival’s Camera d’Or for best first feature by a jury presided by “Parasite’s” Bong Joon Ho.
Both films maintain Tarea Fina’s hallmark of exacting, carefully crafted movies which break out to big festival prizes and sometimes global art house distribution.
“We always work like artisans, producing a small number of films a year so that we can care for them a lot, whether they’re first features or from established directors,” Miller told Variety during Ventana Sur where “El Hijo Deseado” looks to have been one highlight of the market’s Proyecta section.
That said, Tarea Fina also aims to “grow with its directors,” Miller said. An open sea survival thriller, “La Encomienda” marks a move towards the mainstream in some ways for Giorgelli. “El Hijo Deseado” may well pack a third act perspective pivot that adds a new narrative edge to Rotter’s cinema.
Produced out of Argentina by Tarea Fina and Aire Cine, Rotter’s own label, as well as Uruguay’s Montelona Cine, “El Hijo Deseado” turns on Javier and Lorena, both 42, who’ve been trying for over six years to get pregnant.
At work, Javier is approached by Camila, a co-worker with whom he had one fleeting encounter. She tells him she is pregnant with his child.
Javier feels he must tell Lorena. The damage, the synopsis says, is “structural.” The disgraced man seeks refuge in his father’s house. There, “the past begins to creep through the cracks in the iron silence surrounding the figure of Javier’s mother who died when he was still young,” the synopsis reads.
“El Hijo Deseado” – the title may be ambivalent, “hijo” meaning in Spanish both “child” and “son” – turns on what Rotter calls three thematic clusters: the eight years he and his partner spent trying to become parents; his father’s death and his inability to process his grief; a conflict unleashed by a man’s own behavior that puts to the test his belief system and moral and emotional core.
The film’s focus looks set to be hallmark Rotter: An austere mise-en-scene which highlights characters; a film that observes percipiently how characters feel and think and yet allows audiences to come to their own conclusions. “I love to think of a film as a vehicle around which there are as many hypothesis about what’s going on inside the heart and mind of the characters as there are possible viewers,” Rotter told Variety.
Shot in the midst of the pandemic at the water tank on the lot of the Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios, “La Encomienda” is produced by the Dominican Republic’s Lantica Media and Ecah Film and Tarea Fina. Written by Giorgelli, Ettore D’Alessandro, who originated the project, and Adrián Biniez, a Berlin Jury Grand Prix winner for “Gigante,” it stars D’Alessandro as Pietro, a deckhand on a ship dedicated to multifarious illegal trafficking that sinks after setting sail from the Dominican Republic.
Pietro, Abreu (Marcelo Subiotto), another crew member, and Benel (newcomer Henry Shaq Montero), a young black stowaway hoping to reach Miami, have to survive as they can. They face “hour by hour, minute by minute, an immense sea that threatens to devour them, an unequal struggle where a drop of fresh water can carry the same weight as a moral dilemma,” the synopsis runs.
“‘La Encomienda’ is “a genre film which attempts to avoid the clichés of this kind of cinema, focusig on intimate drama and the protagonists’ relationship to political, social, and economic dimensions that define them,” Georgelli said, suggesting that the film has several points of contact, aesthetic and thematic, with “Las Acacias.”
Scheduled for release first half 2021, the film “talks about our world today, dominated by a political system with high doses of perversion, generating inequality, exclusion and illusion,” Georgelli added. The latter, he added, is “believing that the only solution is in belonging, whatever the cost, to a first world that deceptively promises happiness.”