Ventana Sur’s Blood Window, one of Latin America’s most important platforms for up-and-coming horror, science fiction and fantasy filmmaking, is headed to Cannes’ Marché du Film with seven works in progress and a new market screening premiere for buyers and film festival programmers.
Although Blood Window’s beginnings are steeped in blood and gore, the festival has diversified its offerings across recent editions, embracing films of fantasy and science fiction with increasingly political storylines and constantly bigger budgets. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty of slashing to be had in this year’s lineup with classic cabin in the woods fare like “The Shape of the Woods,” zombie slasher flick “Dead Alive” and ghost stories “Don’t Come Back Alive” and “Huesera,” but two of this year’s crop are full-on sci-fi titles: “The Last Boy on Earth” and “Alien Island,” the former set in a dystopian future and the latter a nostalgic extra terrestrial tale from the 1980s.
In addition to the seven works in progress, Andrés Beltran’s “Tarumama,” a hit at last fall’s Ventana Sur where it was awarded a guest prize from the Méliès International Festivals Federation, will host its market premiere ahead of a Sitges world premiere in October.
“Alien Island” (Cristobal Valenzuela, Chile, Italy)
Set in 1980s Chile, this Glaciar-produced sci-fi feature tracks a group of amateur radio enthusiasts who make first contact with mysterious beings claiming extra-terrestrial origins. For former film soundman Ernesto, the almost unbelievable scenario offers a tiny glimmer of hope when he is told that on the island they can cure his terminal cancer.
“Dead Alive” (Sandra Arriagada, Chile)
“Dead Alive” is the latest slasher flick from one of Chile’s busiest genre filmmakers. Arriagada, who directed a section of the “Apps” horror anthology which screened at Bucheon earlier this month, has several other films in varying stages of development and production. In “Dead Alive,” a trio of stunning models recruited for a menstrual pad commercial are put face to face with a zombie apocalypse when a catering girl returns to the set and starts nibbling on the cast and crew.
“Don’t Come Back Alive” (Néstor Sanchez Sotelo, Argentina)
Del Toro Films produces this better-off-dead tale of police officer Camila who, while interrupting a mass-suicide-by-immolation ceremony, falls into a coma. After waking from her unconscious state, Camilla is haunted by a female albino figure from the ceremony which plays twisted games with the stricken officer, her partner and the criminal prosecutor with whom they’re working.
“Huesera” (Michelle Garza, Mexico, Peru)
Buzzed up after its pitch at last fall’s Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG), “Huesera” is the story of Valeria, a young woman thrilled to learn that she’s pregnant. After the conception is confirmed, a malevolent entity, La Huesera, appears and raises questions about Valeria’s commitment to motherhood. To remove the spirit from her life, Valeria must face a younger version of herself, a punk rebel who couldn’t have cared less about traditional family. Mexico’s Disruptiva Films and Machete Producciones co-produce with Señor Z and Maligno Gorehouse.
“The Last Boy on Earth” (Nicolás Onetti, Argentina, New Zealand)
Two years after pitching his latest feature, “A Night of Horror: Nightmare Radio,” at Blood Window in Cannes, Onetti is back with a completely different offering in this futuristic tale of an enigmatic boy who represents the best hope for humanity’s future. In the search to learn more about the boy’s origins, it slowly becomes clear that some questions are better left unanswered. Horror specialist label Black Mandala Films produces.
“The Shape of the Woods” (Gonzalo Mellid, Argentina, U.S., New Zealand)
Another Black Mandala Films production – this time with 3C Films and Oneplay – this ambitious three-country co-production turns on young siblings Silvia and Andrés, who live in a remote cabin with their grandfather. Alone in the woods, the kids accidentally unleash a dark spirit which pursues them through the night. Only by surviving until morning can they hope to banish the malevolent apparition.
“Side Project” (Federico Finkielstain, U.S., Argentina)
A Ninja Films-Pupeteer Productions co-production, “Side Project” kicks off when three young programmers come across an abandoned technology meant to detect supernatural presences. The three reverse engineer the tech and create an app for their phones which allows them to see ghosts, in the process crossing ethical lines and endangering their own lives.
“Tarumama” (Andrés Beltran, Colombia) – Market Premiere
In “Tarumama,” Sara and Oscar look to repair a marriage on life support with a family trip to a remote cabin, where a mysterious woman roams the woods crying for her lost baby. The pain of the ghostly figure proves too much for Sara, suffering her own trauma, and things quickly get out of hand when their way out is blocked by an impeded road. Leading Colombian production shingle Dynamo (“Narcos”) produced and early investors Cine Colombia will distribute.