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San Sebastian Festival Co-Production Forum: New Projects from Paula Hernández, Cristian Leighton, Johnny Ma

El Porvenir de la Mirada
Andrés Larráin

Paula Hernández’s “El Viento Que Arrasa,”Cristian Leighton’s “El Porvenir de la Mirada” and Johnny Ma’s “Chin-Gone” feature among 14 projects selected for San Sebastian’s 9th Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum, the Spanish festival’s industry centerpiece.

Many projects come with high-caliber Latin American arthouse backing.

“El Viento Que Arrasa” was talked up by producer Hernán Musaluppi at Cannes; “El Porvenir de la Mirada” is associate produced by Academy Award winner Sebastián Lelio, (“A Fantastic Woman”); Ma’s “Chin Gone” is produced by Rachel Daisy Ellis’ Desvia Produçoes in Brazil, whose credits include “Divine Love,” “Rojo” and “Prayers for the Stolen.”

Of two feature debuts, “Alemania” is backed by Tarea Fina (“The Sleepwalkers”), and “La Sucesión” by Pasto, which had “The Employer and the Employee” at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, and Gema Films (“Soldado”). New Argentine Cinema icon Diego Dubcovsky produces Romina Paula’s “People by Night.” Multi-prized Spanish director Javier Rebollo co-wrote another project, “Camionero.”

The selection is strong on new Argentine features, particularly from emerging leading lights of a new generation of female filmmakers: Hernández, Barrionuevo, Paula and Casabé.

At least one film, Casabé’s “The Virgin of Quarry Lake,” from an screenplay by “Rojo’s” Benjamin Naishtat, an enticing proposition, is genre; a second, Barrionuevo’s “Spectrum” uses its tropes.

Most strongly of all, however, multiple projects paint a picture of region where parents – in a literal or figurative sense – have abandoned their children. Latin America’s youngest generation has to live with the consequences.

The Co-Production Forum runs Sept. 20-22.

San Sebastian’s 9th Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum. Selected projects:

“Alemania,” (María Zanetti, Argentina)

Set up at Juan Pablo Miller’s Tarea Fina, a class act behind Pablo Giorgelli’s “Las Acacias,” Ariel Rotter’s “Incident Light” and Paula Hernández’s “The Sleepwalkers.” The feature debut of Zanetti, a commercials, vid-clip film director, and a teen girl’s coming of age drama set for the most part in a town near Buenos Aires.

“Camionero,” Francisco Marise (Argentina)

Marise, whose debut “To War” played at San Sebastian’s 2018 New Directors sidebar,  returns with “Camionero,” produced by Madrid-based Lolita Films. Set in Argentina, “Camionero” is described as a road movie without a road, with mechanics, prostitutes, men who lead a double-life and absent characters. It is co-penned by Spain’s Javier Rebollo, a Lolita co-founder and winner of the San Sebastian 2009 best director prize for “Woman Without Piano.”

“Celeste,” (Nayra Ilic García, Chile)

Lead produced by Florencia Rodríguez and Dominga Ortúzar at Chile’s Oro Films, the second feature from Ilic García, whose “Square Meter” played Ventana Sur in 2011. It turns on a 16-year-old girl cut adrift after the death of her father, as drug cartels take over her coastal town.

“Chin-Gone,” (Johnny Ma, Brazil, Mexico, Canada)

A major up and coming Canadian cineaste, Ma’s directorial debut, “Old Stone,” world-premiered at the 2016 Berlin Film Festival and won the Canadian First Feature Award at the Toronto Film Festival and at the Canadian Screen Awards. “Chin Gone” is structured as a Mexico-Brazil-Canada co-production, a sign of its initial multi-national appeal.

“El Porvenir de la Mirada,” (Cristian Leighton, Chile)

Produced by Gabriela Sandoval and Carlos Nuñez’s Storyboard Media, a doc feature announced at Cannes capturing the trauma, identity, views and future of some of the 460 protesters shot in the eyes by Chilean police during massive demonstrations which erupted from Oct. 2019. Distinguished Chilean doc filmmaker Cristián Leighton (“Kawase San,” “Nowheremen”) directs.

“El Viento que Arrasa,” (Paula Hernández, Argentina-Uruguay)

One of this year’s buzz titles, talked up by producer Hernán Musaluppi at Cannes, the tale of a Reverend trying – he claims – to save a gas-station owner son’s soul in north Argentine desert. Based on the cult novella by young Argentine writer Selva Almada, and Hernández follow up to “The Sleepwalkers,” which world premiered at Toronto’s 2019 Platform Competition and was Argentina’s 2021 Oscar submission.

“La Sucesión,” (Martín Kalina, Argentina)

The latest from Pasto, another highly selective Argentine production company, which backed Santiago Mitre’s “The Student,” María Alche’s “A Family Submerged,” and now Manuel Nieto’s Cannes Directors’ Fortnight player “The Employer and the Employee.” Kalina’s feature debut, inspired by Cynthia Edul novel, the portrait of an nouveau riche Argentine family in the 1990s, caught in a downward vortex of violence and euphoria.

“People By Night” (“Gente De Noche,” Romina Paula, Argentina)

Set up at Argentina’s Varsovia Films, and produced by Diego Dubcovsky whose credits take in founding stones of the New Argentine Cinema (“Garaje Olimpo”), multiple hits from Daniel Burman,, such as Berlin double Silver Bear winner “The Lost Embrace,” and features by Walter Salles (“The Motorcycle Diaries”), Cesc Gay (“Truman”) and Diego Lerman (“Meanwhile”). The project follows a woman who travels to Selva Misionera to meet her wife’s family.

“Sarah,” (Alvaro Aponte Centeno, Puerto Rico)

Presented at the BrLab, Aponte-Centeno’s portrait of a 14-year-old Sarah, trapped between dreams of qualifying for the Julliard School of Art and caring for her mother, whose mental faculties are fast degenerating. Aconite Centeno’s second feature outing after 2017’s Mar del Plata-awarded “Silence of the Wind.”

“Spectrum,” (“Espectro,” Inés María Barrionuevo, Argentina)

A highlight of Ventana Sur’s 2020 Proyecta pitches, a relationship-based Argentine Gothic chiller, produced by Sofía Castells at Buenos Aires/Cordoba-based Vega Cine, which backed Morocco Colman’s “Weekend.” The fourth feature from Barrionuevo, whose coming of age drama “Camila Comes Out at Night” plays San Sebastian’s main competition.

“Stay Still,” (“Quédate Quieto,” Joanna Lombardi, Perú)

Peruvian filmmaker, showrunner and head of fiction at Latin America’s Movistar, Lombardi’s next feature is a doc-fiction hybrid produced by Lima-based outfit El Árbol Azul. Played by non-pro actors, “Quédate” tells the story of an illegal gravedigger who faces new intruders who threatens to invade his cemetery grounds: Hilda and Cristina, two young girls who seek a new home.

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“Stay Still” Credit: Daniela Talavera

“The Virgin Of The Quarry Lake,” (“La Virgen De La Tosquera,” Laura Cascabé, Argentina)

Produced by Alejandro Israel’s outfit Ajimolido Films, co-producer of Rodrigo Sepúlveda’s Venice Days player “My Tender Matador.” A horror-thriller co-produced with México, “The Virgin…” follows a group of teen girls who fall in love with a boy during a very hot summer. The project marks the fourth feature by Casabé whose “Los que vuelven” snagged best director at the 2020 Sitges-Catalonian International Film Festival’s Noves Visions sidebar.

“The Passing Deaths,” (“Las muertes pasajeras,” Agustín Banchero, Uruguay)

A drama about a man overcome by the fear of becoming father who abandons his partner, in late pregnancy, without warning. Produced by Virginia Bogliolo and Juan Álvarez Neme at Tarkiofilm, also behind “Hilda’s Short Summer,” Banchero’s debut, which competes at this year’s San Sebastian’s New Directors section.

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“The Passing Deaths” Courtesy of Tarkiofilm

“Where The River Begins,” (“Donde Comienza el Rio,” Juan Andrés Arango, Colombia)

In development at Paola Pérez’s Inercia Películas, a jungle set relationship drama between and an Embera woman and young white gang member. The third feature from on-the-rise Colombian auteur Arango, director of Cannes’ 2012 Un Certain Regard title “La Playa D.C.” and the multi-prized “X500.”