Ecuador-based Tropico Cine has pounced on the international sales rights to Javier Andrade’s drama “Lo Invisible.” This is Andrade’s second feature after his breakout film “The Porcelain Horse,” which represented Ecuador in the 2013 Academy Awards.
“Lo Invisible,” which bows its trailer exclusively in Variety, will have its world premiere Sept. 12 in the Toronto International Film Festival’s Discovery sidebar that spotlights directors to watch.
Said Tropico Cine CEO and co-founder Lucas Taillefier: “We started tracking ‘Lo Invisible’ after seeing it as a work in progress at a film festival in Ecuador and were struck by its power even then.
“It’s an elegant film that deals with a theme that is barely explored in Ecuadorian cinema; Anahi Hoeneisen’s performance is equally spectacular,” he added. Tropico Cine has handled such Latin American gems as “Alba,” “Neon Bull” and “Birds of Passage.”
Hoeneisen, who co-wrote the drama with Andrade, plays a woman who returns from a psychiatric clinic where she has been treated for her severe postpartum depression. But despite being enveloped by a phalanx of servants as well as husband and friends in her dazzling highlands mansion, she struggles to fall back into her role as the perfect high society wife and feels that no one really sees her, with the exception of her wise and wizened nanny, played by perfectly cast non-pro, Matilde Lagos.
In contrast to his first fiction feature, Andrade opted to focus on a woman’s story. “‘The Porcelain Horse’ was set in the coast, had a more masculine energy, a restless camera and a voiceover. For this one, I wanted a quieter, more intense film with a female lead and set in the sierra, the highlands of Ecuador,” he said, adding: “Anahi helped me navigate these feminine spaces in the world of Ecuadorian high society with more confidence and know how.”
The stately home is an integral element of the film. “The house is full of mirrors, windows, and shiny surfaces which allowed us to film Anahi in a way that reflected her character’s fractured mental state,” observed Andrade.
The trailer opens on a shot of Anahi’s character, Luisa, as she stifles her agonized screams followed by scenes of her coolly getting dressed for dinner. The camera focuses on her elegant nape and slick up-do as she glides into a dinner party that she is hosting.
Hoeneisen’s real-life husband, Daniel Andrade (no relation to Javier) served as cinematographer, which contributed to a greater intimacy in the scenes. “He knew her best and worst angles,” he said.
Although it was filmed before the pandemic, “Lo Invisible” was edited during the global health crisis which impacted the final outcome. “It’s a film full of anguish and our own feelings of isolation and uncertainty during the lockdown affected our editing,” said Andrade, adding that the film kept writing itself even during post. He credits his Uruguayan-based editors Fernando Epstein and Magdalena Schinca for “distilling the essence of the scenes and simplifying the structure of the film.”
“The emotion is between the takes,” he added.
Andrade’s next film, of which he’s still seeking producing partners, “Loretta Young and the Monsters,” is again completely different. He describes it as a cross between “Carrie” and the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “a story of teenage heartbreak set in a fishing village of Ecuador.”
“Lo Invisible” is produced by Andrade’s Punk S.A., along with also Quito-based La Maquinita and France’s Promenades Films.