Benjamín Mirguet’s “Alfredo Larón,” Niles Atallah’s “Celestial Twins” and Silvina Schnicer’s “The Cottage” feature among 16 projects to be presented at Ventana Sur’s 4th Proyecta co-production forum, a wide-ranging showcase of emerging auteurs and new talents to track from Latin America and Europe.
“Alfredo Larón,” for example, marks the feature debut of Mirguet, the editor of Carlos Reygadas’ “Battle in Heaven,” and also a former Cannes Directors’ Fortnight programmer. Its action takes in a 17-year-old Larón syndrome sufferer’s battle for legal compensation from the Ecuador government and, in a turn of fortune, his happy high-school days in Germany.
Atallah caught attention with “Lucia” at San Sebastián’s 2009 Films In Progress, but all the more for 2017 Rotterdam Tiger Award Special Mention winner “Rey,” edited, as it happens, by Mirguet. A vision of the delirious Orllie-Antoine de Tonnens, who proclaimed himself King of Patagonia in 1860, “Rey” was shot in 8mm and 16mm film which, to achieve the effect of celluloid decay, Atallah then buried in his garden.
The fast-emerging Argentine auteur Schnicer has had her first two features – 2017’s “Tigre” and this year’s “Carajita” – both selected for San Sebastian’s New Directors, the latter snagging a Special Mention, which is no mean feat.
Packed by other budding talents, Proyecta is rich in coming-of-age and identity narratives such as Adrian Orr’s doc feature “The Future Hasn’t Changed Us.” In it, a young woman from Madrid’s working-class Carabanchel loses her childhood friends when she makes it into university without being able to fully identify with her privileged further education peers.
Many young female protagonists – in Yashira Jordan’s “Diamond,” or Kim Torres’ “If We Don’t Burn, How Do We Light Up The Night” – rebel against the reigning status quo.
Other projects are spangled by genre. But its tropes are designed not so much to shape films for easy identification by consumers as to help their creators to tell their story.
Proyecta presentations will take place onsite and online on Tuesday Nov. 30 at this year’s Ventana Sur, which runs Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 in Buenos Aires, backed by the Cannes Marché du Film and Festival and Argentina’s INCAA film-TV agency.
A breakdown of titles:
“Alfredo Larón,” (Benjamín Mirguet, Rohfilm Productions, Germany, France, Ecuador)
Moved by producer Benny Drechsel at Leipzig and Berlin-based Rohfilm, the company behind Cannes Un Certain Regard winner “Great Freedom.” Alfredo, 17, from an Ecuador mining region, has Laron Syndrome, slowing his growth. Then he’s suddenly offered a new life in Germany. From French editor-turned-director Mirguet, one of the most ambitious titles in this year’s lineup.
“Another Possibility,” (“Bir Intimal Daha Var,” Burak Çevik, Fol Film, Turkey)
The latest from Turkey’s Fol Film, whose “Between Two Dawns” won the San Sebastian Festival’s 2020 WIP Europa Industry Award and then played the fest’s New Directors sidebar this September. Directed by Çevik whose first features – 2018’s social allegory “The Pillar of Salt” and 2019’s psychological drama “Belonging” – played multiple festivals.
“Celestial Twins,” (“Gemelos Celestiales,” Nilles Atallah, Chile)
Backed by the Hubert Bals Fund, a “smart genre adventure with fantasy and horror beats,” according to producer Giancarlo Nasi. “Celestial Twins” marks the third feature from Atallah (“Lucia,” “Rey”), one of the best-known directors in the section. A mother and young son shelter in their home during a pandemic. The son’s video game begins to modify the limits of the real and virtual and life and death.
“The Cottage,” (“La Quinta,” Silvina Schnicer, Brava Cine, Argentina)
On a long weekend at their country cottage, middle-class parents discovers a dead body, the result of the criminal games of their children. A film about affections, family dynamics and of course unconditional love, Schnicer says. Another on-the-rise talent, Valeria Foster (“Mother Dough”), produces.
“Diamond,” (“Diamante,” Yashira Jordán, Empatía Cinema, Bolivia, Argentina)
Petra, a rebellious teen singer who combines her indigenous language of Quechua with hip hop sub-genre Trap, refuses to conform to the traditions of her community. She escapes to find her father, marginalized years ago by them. Meeting her father makes her realize the vital power of transformation.
“Far From the Trees,” (“Lejos de los Árboles,” Meritxell Colell, Allegra Films, Spain)
Angélica, 50, records the sounds and stories of the high Andes, which weave together in her fevered mind capturing the present and past, reality and imagination of the places and people of the mountains. The potential third fiction feature from Colell (“Facing the Wind,” “Duo”), a leading light of Catalonia’s newest generation of filmmakers.
“The Future Hasn’t Changed Us,” (“El futuro no nos ha cambiado,” Adrian Orr, El Viaje Films, Spain)
A doc feature, but with a fiction structure, from go-ahead Spanish outfit El Viaje (“They Carry Death”). Exploring resonant questions of identity and social class of a generation born in a big city’s humbler outskirts, it tracks Sara, her friends in Madrid’s Carabanchel, first love and university life. The second film from Orr (“Niñato”), a talent to track.
“If We Don’t Burn, How Do We Light Up The Night,” (“Si No Ardemos, Cómo Iluminar La Noche,” Kim Torres, Noche Negra Prods, Costa Rica, Mexico, France)
A coming-of-age tale about pre-teen Laura, who moves to a conservative town in the mountains where a femicide has occurred. She meets Daniela, 16, the victim’s best friend, who leads her in the joys and challenges of growing up in a new environment and in coming to terms with their changing bodies.
“Iluminada,” (Nicolas Rincón, Medio de Contención Prods., Colombia, Belgium, France)
Brussels-based docu filmmaker Rincón’s debut feature, “Valley of Souls” represented Colombia at Spain’s upcoming Goya awards. “Iluminada,” his next drama, is about a young poet from Colombia’s predominantly Afro-Colombian región of Choco. The titular Iluminada has visions and hears voices, which forces her to go into isolation. She writes down what she sees and hears, not realizing they are poems.
“The Swift Ones,” (“La raza de los ligeros,” Paula Buontempo, Murillo Cine, Argentina)
From Buenos Aires’ Murillo Cine, headed by Cecilia Salim and Georgina Baisch, producers on Cannes Directors’ Fortnight hit “The Employer and the Employee” and San Sebastián New Directors’ title “That Weekend.” A doc feature plumbing the relationship between man and horse in an iconic setting, Argentina’s Pampa, following a horses’ lives from birth to death.
“Taturana,” (Carlos Piñeiro, Socavón Cine, Bolivia)
Set in the Bolivian highlands and the Amazon jungle, it turns on Saturnino, a university student who lives with his parents in the city. One day, his father confesses that Saturnino has a half-sister but who has vanished, pleading with him to find her. The reason why she has fled is apparent once he finds her.
“The Waste Land,” (“A Terra Gasta,” João Dumans, Katásia Filmes, Brazil)
Set in a remote countryside of Brazil, in a land ravaged by years of exploitation, a homeless former drug addict seeks out a young man who has vanished called Décio, an orphan with a volatile temper who flits from one job to another. Their encounter will rouse a jumble of mixed feelings in both men.
“Winter’s Ghosts,” (“Fantasmas de Invierno,” Gabriela Vidal, Argentina)
The first solo outing by Córdoba, Argentina and Mexico-based screenwriter Gabriela Vidal, a co-director with Inés María Barrionuevo of 2019’s “Little Bikes,” it turns on a lone sad woman convinced there’s a ghost in her home.
San Sebastian Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum:
“Camionero,” (Francisco Marise, Lolita Films, Spain, Argentina, France, Germany)
The big winner at San Sebastian’s Co-Production Forum in September, taking its Best Project Award. Co-written by Marise and Spanish director Javier Rebollo, a San Sebastian 2009 best director winner for “Woman Without Piano.” An Argentina-set tale of male angst, joy and solitude described by Marise as a road movie without a road, with mechanics, prostitutes, men who lead double-lives and absent characters.
EAVE Puentes Europe/Latin America Co-Production Workshop
“Loretta Young and the Monsters,” (“Loretta Young y los Monstruos,” Javier Andrade, Punk S.A., Ecuador, Chile, Norway)
Described by Andrade as a cross between Brian de Palma’s “Carrie” and the magical realism of Gabriel García Márquez, it is a story of teenage heartbreak set in a fishing village of Ecuador. As Celina’s 15th birthday looms, she realizes that her femininity is mysteriously tied to her fishing village’s fortunes.
“The Secret of Sikán,” (“O Segredo de Sikán,” Everlane Morales, Carapiá Filmes, Brazil)
Set in ancient Africa, men from enemy tribes Efik and Efó condemn Princess Sikán for revealing the sacred secret of humanity. She dives into the river and becomes a fish to protect the secret with her life. But every thousand years, she is forced to surface, arousing the desire of men to possess her and her secret. Five women team up to protect Sikán.
Emilio Mayorga contributed to this article.