Argentine production company Coruya Cine (“Nocturna: Side A”), led by Javier Díaz, has signed-on to co-produce “The Sugar Girl,” (“La Niña Del Azúcar”) alongside Peru’s AV Films (“Juego Siniestro”). The project, shooting in the remote and sprawling city of Iquitos, will utilize an Amazonian cine noir aesthetic to merge the suspenseful and metaphysical components of four parallel narratives.
“The space is being given to tell the stories of others. It’s not always the narco, it’s also the one who lives in the jungle, taking another look at Latin America and who we are. Before, it seemed that Europeans were the only ones who could talk about the human condition. Latin America also has stories to tell,” Díaz told Variety.
“The Sugar Girl” writer-director Javier Velásquez Varela will lead a mix of Peruvian and Argentine talents as they unravel the mysterious facts surrounding a missing woman amidst supernatural happenings that touch on local mysticism in a city ravaged by the chaos of criminal terror.
Previously pitched at the Sanfic Morbido Lab, the film joined five other projects in front of a jury that included lauded Spanish horror legend Paco Plaza.
Díaz, whose focus oscillates between documentary and genre cinema, spoke to Variety about the range of genre projects Coruya boards and the care needed to see them through, “Each film is a different universe. Each film has its own behavior. They’re like organisms, organisms that get sick, heal, shrink, grow. But, well, one takes care that it’s alive, that it can be finished. I think of it this way, everything is very organic.”
He went on: “I like films of artistic risk that genre to address societal issues, not simply films based on scare tactics, but elevated horror films that are audience-aware.”
“Legions” Heads to Fantasia
Further cementing South American genre cinema’s place in the global market, Díaz is seeing another Coruya production, Fabián Forte’s (“Mala Carne”) “Legions” (“Cosa e Mandinga”) head for Montreal’s Fantasia Festival.
Guido Rud’s FilmSharks has swooped in on sales rights, anticipating high market interest after its upcoming North American debut.
The film, which draws upon ancestral lore, faith in heritage, and complicated familial dynamics, follows protagonist Antonio Poyju (Germán de Silva) as he recounts his fantastic past as a shaman to fellow residents of a mental facility.
The troupe prepares to stage a play of the events while long-staved evil brims to the surface. A brutal and semi-comical narrative unravels as an estranged father and his daughter, Helena (Lorena Vega), face honoring their past to secure their future.
Forte, credited as an integral part of the revitalization of the Argentine horror scene, spoke with Variety in advance of the screening on connecting to culture, the Argentine genre cinema circuit and finding a kindred soul in Díaz.
The film tells the story of moving away from heritage in favor of modern convenience. Do you think humanity has strayed too far from its roots?
I’m convinced of it. The capitalist system leads us to completely separate ourselves from our roots. There are a few cultures and peoples resisting the current policies, the predominant world systems, but they’re a minority. We’re slowly losing who we are and finding ourselves again, if we are lucky enough to achieve this. It’s a very personal task which becomes arduous in a world that leads to disconnection. It requires strong conviction to be reborn and change the mind, the habits of a lifetime.
Can you speak to making genre films in Argentina, the pros and cons?
Argentine genre cinema is growing considerably due to the talent of its creators and their ability to adapt, more than to the budget of the films. We’re creating projects that are competing in big international horror film festivals despite low budgets and large financial problems. Our country is in crisis and it affects culture considerably. We need co-productions to be able to carry out filming.
We must adapt to tell stories within the economic panorama that we have. That adaptation means that sometimes great products are lost. We’re faced with the difficult task of keeping up with the market and achieving it with little money.
Something that I value very much is the independence, that the creative authorial decisions are in my hands, or those of Javier, in this case. We’re not tied to large production companies that make demands according to the public, the market.
How important is it to find the correct producer?
It’s complex and extremely important to find someone who believes in your story with a similar vision, who defends the project. Javier Díaz always believed in the story, in each artistic decision made during development. Producing in our country is the task of titans, there’s a lot at stake. I understand the courage necessary to produce a genre film. It requires different effects, makeup, VFX, post time that other genres don’t. It’s necessary to have a production partner who knows what film you have in mind, and who’ll risk it all for that vision.