Mexican-American filmmaker Sofia Garza-Barba made waves with her award-winning short film “Death After Pancakes,” taking prizes at the Independent Filmmakers Showcase and Lady Filmmakers Film Festival, and has shared with Variety that it’s time to announce her debut feature outing, a supernatural fairy tale thriller “Santos Remedios,” pitching at this month’s Sanfic-Morbido Lab.
“Santos Remedios” – Holy Remedies in English – turns on eight-year-old Amapola, who idolizes her father, although she doesn’t remember ever having met the man. When she was a baby, he left for the U.S. leaving only traces of himself behind, including an audio cassette in which he promises to return to visit the girl one day.
Just before Amapola’s eighth birthday, she discovers a black coyote wandering outside her window and takes it as an omen that this is the year her father is sure to return. As the day winds down, she is dismayed by her father’s absence and begins to lose her previously unwavering hope. Dispirited, the girl decides to follow the coyote, believing it might lead her to him.
Instead, the animal brings her to La Santa Muerte, or the Holy Death, with whom the girl makes a pact that no child has the wisdom to understand. Amapola is offered the chance to see her father, but at what cost?
“This story is about accepting reality and seeing what is in front of us and beyond, accepting life or death, the good or the bad,” explained Garza-Barba. “It’s about reading between the lines and living in the moment. If we sit idealizing, it’s possible to lose what we have in front of us, and by the time we realize it may be too late. This story may have the skeleton of a fairy tale, but it’s wrapped in real life and death.”
Driven by the often slow, melancholic melodies of classic Bolero music, the supernatural fairy tale’s aesthetic proposes a magical realism reminiscent of “Pan’s Labyrinth” or Carlos Saura’s 1976 classic “Raise Ravens.”
According to Garza-Barba, “This movie will be driven by fantastic elements created in the main character’s own imagination, allowing the viewer to connect with her emotions.”