Director-producer Dorián Fernández Moris, the leading light on an genre production scene based out of Iquitos in the heart of the Amazon, is set to produce “The Sugar Girl,” a slice of Amazon Noir aimed squarely at international markets.
Mixing a cop drama-thriller and doses of Amazon legend and the supernatural, “The Sugar Girl” will be directed by Javier Velásquez Varela, adapting his own same-titled novel.
“The Sugar Girl” is set to be unveiled at the Sanfic-Morbido Lab, whose pitching sessions unspool online on March 23 as part of a virtual Sanfic Industria, the industry forum of Chile’s Sanfic festival.
The new movie project also forms part of a drive by Iquitos-based AV Films, headed by brothers Dorián and producer Chicho Fernández Moris, to broaden AV’s genre productions beyond horror titles. Four of these have already sold to Netflix: 2013’s “Cementerio General,” which marked Dorián Fernández’s breakout as a director, 2014’s “Secreto Matusita,” 2015’s “Desaparecer,” and, still available globally, 2016’s “Juego Siniestro.”
However, “we’d like to grow the universe of films which we develop out of AV films,” Dorián Fernández told Variety. “We’ll continue our horror titles but also explore every so often some genre variations,” he added.
Set in modern-day Iquitos, the world’s biggest city without road access, “The Sugar Girl” intertwines four narratives which merge at its climax. A little girl comes down from the top floor of a building to knock every night at the door of a young eco-journalist, Juan, asking for sugar. Bothered by her insistence, Juan informs the concierge who tells him horrified that nobody lives on the top floor.
In parallel, Zamora, a police captain and the film’s protagonist, obsesses about finding a beautiful medical student, recently arrived from Lima, who disappeared from the same housing block.
When Zamora decides to visit an old seer who lives on a raft in Iquitos’ Belen district, “the drama of a family destroyed by the mafia, the madness of a concierge traumatized, the despair of a parent, and the unhealthy obsession of a police captain fuse,” the synopsis says, in the simple words of a message written by the seer.
In the 1980s, as a 10-year-old kid, Velázquez Varela could cross the city by bike. “The Sugar Girl” sets out to show how Iquitos has now been decimated by drug gangs, its camerawork adopting the increasingly desperate and somber POV of Zamora, building a sense of “chaos, disorder and fear that contributes to the horror.”
“We’re always concerned about releasing stories about events in the Peruvian jungle, a mystical space that’s a great source of stories, myths and legends, many of which we’ve already incorporated into movies,” Dorián Fernández told Variety. “The Sugar Girl,” he added, is in this line: “Stories with their own identity that, grounded locally, present novelties and their own traits for other markets.”