The Chilean director-producer team of Juan Cáceres, Alejandro Ugarte and Esteban Sandoval are back in Guadalajara, where their first feature “Perro Bomba” dominated the 2018 Guadalajara Construye works in progress section, scooping the Chemistry, Yagán, Mondragon-Disruptiva and Habanero awards, ensuring a strong post-production and aiding in the film’s highly successful international festival run.
Variety can now announce that Chilean trap superstar and Latin Grammy Awards nominee Pablo Chill-E and his younger sister Javiera Rojas Leiva, an aspiring amateur actress and singer herself, will star in Cáceres’ upcoming film “Kaye,” pitching as a project at this year’s Guadalajara Co-Production Meetings.
At only 20 years old, Chill-E is pushing 1 million subscribers on YouTube and has surpassed 1.2 million on Instagram, fueled by hits like “Vibras,” “Pensando En Ti” and “Hablamos Mañana” with Bad Bunny and Duki, which was nominated for Best Urban Fusion/Performance at the Latin American Grammys.
Chilean films struggle to gain a foothold in their domestic market, often finding better success abroad. According to Cáceres, less than 3% of the local box office take goes to Chilean films, and when factoring in how much of that slice of pie goes to broad local comedies, the prospects for independent cinema aren’t great.
That’s one reason that Cáceres and the “Kaye” team are “thankful to Javiera and Pablo for joining us on this project, knowing that the popularity they already have endows this film with the potential to be massive,” the director explained to Variety.
“If we want to make honest cinema from marginalized territories, we must do so with methodologies that confront the power hierarchies of hegemonic cinema,” the filmmaker explained of his ambitions at the Chilean box office.
Set in the outskirts of Cartagena de Chile, “Kaye” sees 13-year-olds Yeka and Yavanna singing romantic bolero duets which contrast with the often violent lyrics of Pablo, Yeka’s older brother and an up-and-coming trap star. The girls adore the older brother and follow him to a concert in a nearby village where Yavanna is hit by a stray bullet fired into the crowd. When the adults around her refuse to investigate, or even properly acknowledge, the young girl’s death, Yeka takes matters into her own hands, tracking down the truth behind the shot that killed her friend.
When speaking as a filmmaker, Cáceres insists on using plural pronouns, positioning himself as part of a collaborative process, and his story will be brought to the screen by a young team of behind-the-camera talent from the community he refers to. “Perro Bomba” director of photography Valeria Fuentes returns to the same role for “Kaye.” Elisa Torres aids in production with Katherine Luke filling the role of assistant director. Ugarte is joined as executive producer by regular collaborator Sandoval, also a producer on “Perro Bomba.” Sound tech Camila Pruzzo, who worked on Guadalajara competition player “Piola,” and San Sebastián standout “Some Beasts” editor Valeria Hernández join the team.
“In addition to considering cinema as a medium dedicated to entertainment, we also perceive it as an instrument of change. It is our way of contributing to a fairer society,” says Ugarte. “Films that in their shell appear to be conventional but that inside invite audiences to reflect on the current problems of our environment,”
As a project, “Kaye” participated in several international film labs, winning best pitch at Italy’s BioCine Meetings in 2019.
Filming is scheduled for 2021 in Chile’s Valparaiso region.