Yulene Olaizola’s “Tragic Jungle,” Natalia Meta’s “The Intruder” and Clarisa Navas’ “One in a Thousand” will compete in the San Sebastian Film Festival’s Latinos Horizontes, a showcase of standout recent movies from Latin America that this year underscores the emergence or consolidation of a new generation of female filmmakers in Latin America.
In all, women direct or co-direct seven of the nine features in Horizontes Latinos, a section which also features two world premieres: “La Verónica,” from Chile’s Leonardo Medel; and “Unlimited Edition,” co-directed by Virginia Cosín, Edgardo Cozarinsky, Santiago Loza and Romina Paula.
Certainly, this year’s San Sebastian makes no claim via its selection to women having suddenly taken over the Latin American industry: Four of the five titles from the region in other sections, including main competition (Argentine Eduardo Crespo’s “Nosotros Nunca Moriremos”) and New Directors (Brazilian João Paulo Miranda’s “Memory House”) are made by men.
But the fact that all but one of Horizontes Latinos’ women directors are selected for their first or second feature does suggest that women are now coming to the fore, at least among the ranks of Latin America’s newest generation of cineastes.
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Olaizola (“Artificial Paradises,” “Fogo”), exceptionally, bucks that trend, “Tragic Jungle” representing her fifth feature. A robust international co-production, produced by Mexico’s Malacosa Cine and Varios Lobos, France’s Manny Films and Colombia’s Contravía Films, “Tragic Jungle” also represents a step-up in scale for Olaizola. The cautionary period tale, tinged with the fantastic, revolves around a group of Mexican gum workers, deep in the Mexico-Belize border around 1920 who stumble across a mysterious young Belizean woman.
A move toward the mainstream for Meta, psycho-sexual fantasy-laced thriller “The Intruder” played Berlin main competition, as did a second Horizontes Latinos title, Caetano Gotardo and Marco Dutra’s “All the Dead Ones,” a lushly turned-out family drama which turns ghostliness into a political metaphor for the state, in 1899 and today, of Brazil’s Black majority.
Much of the section’s heat will be generated by lesser-known directors whose debuts or second features played this year to an upbeat reception from those who caught them: Argentine Sol Berruezo Pichón-Rivière’s coming-of-age tale “Mum, Mum, Mum” which won a special mention at the 2020 Berlinale Generation; Clarisa Navas’ “One in a Thousand,” a lesbian love story set in a memorably evoked project on the outskirts of Argentina’s Corrientes; and Chilean Carolina Moscoso’s non-fiction “Night Shot,” which explores the emotional legacy of rape.
Winner of the Films in Progress Industry Award at 2019’s San Sebastian, and world premiering at Sundance, Mexican Fernanda Valadez’s debut “Identifying Features” plumbs the Mexico-U.S. immigration experience, following a mother who searches for her son who went missing as he made his way to the U.S. border.
Medel’s “La Veronica” stars Mariana di Girolamo (“Ema,” “La Jauría”) as a model and social media influencer who suddenly falls from grace, incriminated as the prime suspect of the assassination of her oldest daughter.
In “Unlimited Edition,” the directors reflect via four stories on writing, reading, the generation gulf and creative process, according to a synopsis.
San Sebastian’s Horizontes Latinos
“All the Dead Ones,” (“Todos los Muertos,” Caetano Gotardo, Marco Dutra, Brazil, France)
“Identifying Features,” (“Sin Señas Particulares,” Mexico, Spain)
“The Intruder,” (“El Prófugo,” Natalia Meta, Argentina, Mexico)
“Mum, Mum, Mum,” (“Mamá, Mamá, Mamá,” Sol Berruezo Pichón-Rivière, Argentina)
“Night Shot,” (“Visión Nocturna,” Carolina Moscoso, Chile)
“One in a Thousand,” (“Las Mil y Una,” Clarisa Navas, Argentina, Germany)
“Tragic Jungle,” (“Selva Trágica,” Yulene Olaizola, Mexico, France)
“Unlimited Edition,” (“Edición Ilimitada,” Virginia Cosín, Edgardo Cozarinsky, Santiago Loza, Romina Paula, Argentina)
“La Verónica,” (Leonardo Medel, Chile)