Independent Chilean production company Equeco, founded by producer Pablo Calisto and award-winning director Tomás Alzamora, is celebrating it’s fifth anniversary this year by showing off its impressive lineup of two features in post, one feature project and a finished short film on display at the Cannes Marché du Film, looking to connect with partners abroad.
Shot last December, Bernardo Quesney’s dramedy “History & Geography” was one of the company’s longest-gestated project, originally announced by Variety in 2018 as “Break a Leg.” The film turns on Gioconda Martínez, played by Amparo Noguera (“A Fantastic Woman”), a well-remembered but past her prime TV actor who stages a play about the conquest of Chile in her hometown, earning her artistic recognition which she assumed she’d lost, but realizes she never really had. Catalina Saavedra, who’s unforgettable performance in Sebastián Silva’s “The Maid” won her awards around the world, including at Sundance and Torino, co-stars.
Shifting to something completely different for the company, Equeco’s second pic-in-post is Belén Giadach’s “We Forgot,” co-produced by Michelle Aburto at Eureka Films, an experimental thriller that’s part ghost story and part social commentary on ancestry in Chile. Set in a non-existent ghost town, the film’s protagonist is attempts to free memories trapped in an old movie theater, when images around him begin coming to life. Eventually, a stranger appears as a sort of spiritual guide, helping the man to find peace.
“History & Geography” is well into post-production and looking for markets and festivals to pitch a work in progress cut. Equeco is already in talks with international sales agents and ready to begin plotting out premiere and distribution details for “We Forgot.”
Alzamora’s newest project, but already one of the company’s most advanced, having won a financing award in Chile, is “Designation of Origin.” Once again Alzamora will shoot in a small rural Chilean town, this time telling the story of recently-elected councilman Roberto Betancourt who is forced to deal with the stresses of a community that expects him to come good on campaign promises he has no idea how to keep. Sticking with the sense of humor that defines his other work, in format “Designation of Origin” is a departure for Alzamora, who will shoot the feature as a mockumentary.
Equeco’s final Cannes-featured production is Alzamora’s now-finished satire short “For Some Horses.” Constructed as an almost-classic Western, it’s set in the rural Andes mountains where two shepherds face off in an ambitious feud over a strange ultra-modern object which has crashed down in the Andes mountains.
Founded in 2016, Equeco’s first major international success came with Alzamora’s feature debut “Little White Lie,” a dark comedy about fake news in a rural Chilean village that grimly and accurately predicted changes seen in the global political landscape during the subsequent half-decade.
Today, Equeco is at the forefront of a wave of young filmmakers based in and around Santiago which speaks a different cultural and generational dialect than its predecessors. They and their peers grew up in a post-Pinochet Chile and belong to a hyper politically and socially conscious group of professionals who navigate a trans-media landscape with ease, and whose films always have something important to say.
Having cut their teeth making music videos and revolutionary short films, Equeco’s creatives and their peers are equally as popular on Instagram and Tik Tok and are adept at translating what has worked on those platforms to the film and TV. The cinema created by this new generation of artists feel like a natural evolution, offering up the kind of cinema that proposes something audiences of all ages can get behind, a feat not easily accomplished in Chile where local films are often rejected in favor of big budget Hollywood fare.
In addition to the Cannes Film Market lineup, Equeco is also preparing another Alazamora feature, “Pepperoni Pizza,” which was pushed back by COVID-19 but is well into development and has already pitched at Guadalajara’s important Co-Production Market. Originally planned as a fish-out-of-water satire about a Trump-loving immigrant whose affections aren’t reciprocated, after being delayed by COVID-19, the film’s screenplay is being updated and relocated to Chile to better reflect current socio-political conditions.