Ostinato Cine, one of the high-energy company hubs on Ecuador’s burgeoning film scene, is teaming with Germany’s Rohfilm Productions to co-produce “Alfredo Larón,” the feature film debut as a writer-director of Benjamin Mirguet, an editor on Carlos Reygadas’ “Battle in Heaven” and João Paulo Miranda Maria’s “Memory House.”
Developing and financing features for the international crossover arthouse sector, Rohfilm Productions’ credits include Cannes’ 2021 Un Certain Regard winner “Great Freedom,” Kate Shortland’s “Lore” and Adina Pintilie’s 2018 Berlin Golden Bear winner “Touch Me Not.”
Producing upscale docu-features, such as Bafici 2017 Fipsresci jury winner “A Secret in the Box,” Obstinato also runs a energetic distribution operation in Ecuador.
Ranging from Ecuador to Germany and France and building from a portrait of the protagonist’s life in Ecuador into a far broader reflection on growth, freedom and coming of age, “Alfredo Larón” will be unveiled by Mirguet on Nov. 30 at Ventana Sur’s Proyecta co-production forum, which is backed by the Cannes Film Market, Ventana Sur and the San Sebastian Film Festival.
Produced by Rohfilms’ Benny Drechsel and Ostinato’s Pedro Orellana, the feature project forms part of an ever building breed of highly ambitious art films now coming out of Latin America, often debuts but backed by established producers in Latin America and Europe and made in multilateral co-production. Often boasting strong cinematographic values and high production values, they build from local detail to tackle issues of global import.
Alfredo is hardly the run-of-the-mill protagonist of much Latin American fiction. From Ecuador’s mining region of Pinas, at 17 he is short for his age, having Larón Syndrome, a rare blood condition which slows physical growth. For 10 years, Alfredo has travelled the world with a doctor who affirms that Larón holders can cure cancers.
In Ecuador, Alfredo is a media star. But he feels used. His adventure really starts when he meets Janet, a 60 year-old German widow who settled in Ecuador’s nearby Valley of Youth and decides to offer him a new life in Germany. Alfredo begins an odyssey which will change his worldview and give him a far broader sense of real life growth and freedom.
Exploring a character’s dissatisfaction with the status quo and search for a new sense of identity, “Alfredo Larón” underscores one of the key through-lines in projects comprising this year’s Proyecta.
“Alfredo Larón” could be described as “a coming of age, but it’s not only that, though it’s definitely the story of enlightenment of a boy of 17, his becoming an adult by understanding that he is nothing special,” Mirguet told Variety.
“As a French editor who is becoming a director, the question of the legitimacy for me to tell the story of a boy from Ecuador was from the beginning a core part of the film,” he added, noting “that’s why the film turns on a relationship between a European lady and a [seemingly] very special boy from Ecuador.”
Having a producer in Ecuador is essential, Mirguet argued. “Obstinato represents Ecuador’s youth. The question’s also how we collaborate because the subject of the film is about doing things together,” he added.
“It has been really interesting joining Benjamin in the development of this project, trying to help him feel more connected and close to Ecuador even in the solitary process of writing the script,” said Ostinato Cine’s Pedro Orellana.
“He is very respectful and aware of the difficulties that come with working on a project that includes a country and culture that you were not familiar with, and it has been very special seeing his perspective materialize in this film.”