Guadalajara Co-Production Meetings: Mexican Fest Hosts Projects from Latin America’s Independent Scene

Ana Piterbarg, Tamae Garateguy and Shawn Garry
Courtesy fo FICG

Each year the Guadalajara Film Festival (FICG) invites a crop of the most exciting projects from around Latin America to participate in its Co-Production Meetings. This year, organizers are excited to welcome back in-person visitors for its rescheduled 17th edition of the event, where teams representing 24 feature film projects will meet with potential partners, financing organizations, sales agents and more.

Below, a look at this year’s participating projects.

“Animals,” (“Animales,” Andrés Waissbluth, Avispa Cine, Chile)

From Waissbluth, whose enterprising 2016 “A Horse Called Elephant” marked a rare Southern American movie play for family ads. Billed as a near-future dark dramedy, his latest pictures a world where animal rights begin to be widespread and upheld by law.

“The Bad Mother,” (“La Mala Madre,” Alicia Albares Martínez, Mordisco Films, Spain)

Victoria, a successful journalist, decides to have a baby, regrets it later, which plunges her into depression.She writes a book, “The Bad Mother,” which creates a movement. A horror drama marking the director’s first feature.

“Beach House,” (“La casa de playa,” Kim Elizondo Navarro, Bicha Cine, Costa Rica)

A study in modern gender power-play as Vilma, from humble origins but now living in an exclusive sea-side villa, awaits the annual visit of her lover, and house’s owner. The director’s fiction feature debut and a CRFIC 2020 Industry Award winner.

“The Diver,” (Jimena Muhlia, Pierrot Films, Mexico-Spain)

The debut feature of Muhlia, an alum of Mexico’s CCC film school, “The Diver” turns on a scuba diver who has spent years alone on the seabed after he drowns. He returns to the village where he is feared and despised, with the exception of his sister, a seamstress.

“The Fury,” (“La Furia,” Gemma Blasco Fernández, Ringo Media, Spain)

The latest from producer Mireia Graell, a London Film School alum and line producer on Clara Simon’s “Summer 1993” and producer of Sundance Grand Jury Prize winning short “Matria.” Billed as a “modern tragedy,” the tale of two siblings’ strong bond, set in working class Barcelona. Blasco Fernández (“El Zoo”) directs.

“The Invisibles,” (“Los invisibles,” Andrés Rodríguez, La Danta Films, Guatemala)

A social realist tale wrapped around the phenomenon of domestic migration in Guatemala, from Rodríguez whose first feature “Roza” awaits distribution this year. Produced by Heidi Bacá, creator of audiovisual programs for Guatemala’s Mayan communities. set up at La Danta, whose partners include Cannes 2019 Camera d’Or winner César Díaz (“Our Mothers”).

“Lala,” (Rodrigo Daniel Márquez, Mental Revolution Films, Mexico)

A genre blender – a coming-of-age road movie and crime thriller as Lala hits the road with her sister, on the run with drug money, having lived the last 14 years chained in a chicken pen because of mild mental disability. Part inspired by real events. Márquez’s first fiction feature.

“Giraffes,” (“Jirafas,” Felipe Carmona, Sarahi Echeverria, Clap Producciónes, El Otro Film, Ecuador, Chile)

In 2003 an Ecuador zoo hosted the country’s first-ever giraffe. The local mayor, his status elevated by Chelito’s arrival, then campaigned to bring more of the animals to the town after Chelito died, including a questionable and contentious fundraiser.

“Going Back Home,” (“Volver a casa,” Catalina Alarcón, Miembre Producciones, Pequén Producciones, Chile)

Valparaiso prison hosts a unique cultural program in which inmates use VR to “go home” without leaving its overcrowded and underfunded walls. Alarcón (“Dios”) previously created a VR short on the topic and is well into development on the feature version.

“Here Be Dragons,” (“Aquí hay dragones,” Iría Gómez Concheiro, Ciudad Cinema, Mexico, Colombia) 

One of the Co-Pro Meetings’ big plays, set in 2040, in a country terrified by imminent barbarian invasion, a study of “the culture of fear,” seen from a decidedly “specific, three-dimensional feminine gaze,” says Gómez Concheiro, one of the rising stars of Mexican moviemaking (“The Cinema Hold-Up,” !Before Oblivion”).

“Janos,” (Juan Celín, AudioVisual Atelier, Argentina)

In the late 1960s, Hungarian Móricz János claimed to have found mounds of gold, sculptures and a metallic library deep in an Andean cave, sparking rumors of hidden Nazi treasure. “Janos” is Celín’s feature debut.

“Like Magic,” (“Por arte de magia,” Melissa Saavedra Gil, Dessu Productions, Colombia)

An autobiographical work, Saavedra returns to her hometown of Cali and the memories of her childhood, when the pyrotechnics of magicians Los Hermanos Rodríguez Orejuela mixed with explosions tied to gang violence, and the murder of her parents.

“Malta,” (Natalia Santa, Perro de Monte, Colombia) 

Mariana, 20, yearns to escape from dealing with her dysfunctional family. Her promised land is Malta. Trying to get there she seeks refuge in the beds of occasional lovers. Santa’s follow-up to Directors’ Fortnight player “The Dragon Defense,” which converted her into the first Colombian woman to be selected for Cannes.

“Mother of Gold,” (“Mãe de ouro,” Madiano Marcheti, Terceira Margem Produçoes, Brazil)

An ecology-themed mystery drama as Jaci, 60, a school teacher, dreams of deaths which then materialize. She realizes they’re connected to the ilegal mine being driven into the hill on which she lives. The second feature from Marcheti and producer Beatriz Martins whose joint debut, “Madalena,” world premiered in the main competition at this year’s Rotterdam.

“My Best Half,” (“Mi media naranja,” Sebastián del Amo, Cine Qua Non Films, Mexico)

From the prolific and award-winning Del Amo (“Cantinflas”), this thriller unspools in a middle-class apartment complex where a couple is disturbed by noises next door and attempt to investigate but are thrown off by the lies of their neighbor who harbors a horrible secret.

“My Saints Recognize Your Saints,” (Rodrigo Antonio, Leão do Norte Prods., Brazil)

Docu by Antonio, head of the Black Audiovisual Professionals Association in Brazil, follows him as he travels to Marajo island where he is initiated into Marajoara shamanism and records his relationship with shaman Roxita, who guides him in contacting his ancestors.

“Noises, Voices, Rumors…Distant Songs,” (José de Jesús Gutiérrez, Mono Films, Off-Hollywood Films, Los No Ricos Films, Mexico-Spain)

Gutierrez’s third feature is a Western-fantasy hybrid set in 1913 Mexico that tracks two brothers who flee the war through the desert. Their journey is replete with odd experiences that make them face their deepest fears. They enter a cave which will alter their lives forever.

“Now They’re Coming For Us,” (“Ahora vienen por nosotros,” Shawn Garry, Clara Films, Chile)

Inside an isolated condo, an unconscious young man is found. Not trusting authorities, the building’s community launches its own investigation, with serious consequences. One of two projects in pre-production from award-winning director-producer Garry (“Desierto Sur”), along with Storyboard Media’s “After Elena.”

“Time to Harvest,” (“Tiempo de cosecha,” Flavio Pedota, Luz Creativa, B-Roll Films, Venezuela, Dominican Republic)

A drama thriller about a group of journalists covering the aftermath of an earthquake in Haiti who stumble on an organ trafficking ring and must flee or die. Pedota made a name for himself with his 2019 feature debut “Infection,” screened in competition at FICG.

“Walking on Waters,” (Larissa Figuerido, Cazumba Filmes, Brazil)

The second feature from Figuerido, whose debut, “The Bull,” played 2015’s Rotterdam fest. A hybrid doc-fiction about the relationship between men and the littoral of Maranhão, North-East Brazil, its joys, challenges, and colonial legacy, as filtered through their dreams.

“Water’s Skin” (Patricia Velazquez, Tiempo Liquido, Costa Rica-Spain)

Director-Producer Velazquez’s feature debut revolves around 15-year-old Camila who returns to her estranged father after her mother’s accident. She seeks refuge in strange, anarchic Diego, a 28-year-old rock singer. Velazquez co-founded Tiempo Liquido, which produces films, TV and web content.

“The White Room,” (“La habitación blanca,” Ana Piterbarg, Bikini Films, Argentina, Chile)

Arguably the best-known director at the Meeting, Piterbarg, who directed Viggo Mortensen in “Everybody Has a Plan,” focuses here on the confusions and trauma of childhood. Behind “Karnawal,” a FICG 2020 best director winers, Edson Sidonie produces.

“Women Fighters of Latin America,” (“Mujeres lucadhoras de Latinoamérica,” Tamae Garateguy, Tedigoque Producciones, Argentina)

A change of pace from one of Latin America’s most important genre filmmakers, this documentary dives into the world of women’s contact sports, an area traditionally dominated by men. From novices to paid professionals, all are fighting to expose structures of patriarchy.

“The Year of the Cat,” (“El año del gato,” Juliana Orea Martínez, Ártico Cine, Mexico )

“Follow your dreams.” Not if you’re Liz, in Mexico, whose aspirations to get into a music school are quashed by her parents’ divorce and economic crisis, forcing her to look after her family. A potential first feature from Jalisco-based Orea and “Martinez” producer Alex Briseño.  “Now They’re Coming for Us,” (Shawn Garry, Clara Films, Chile)