In one of the first deals struck at Chilean industry forum Sanfic Industria, local indie producers Matias de Bourguignon and Equeco have boarded the Venezuelan drama “I Will Mutate Like a Jungle Animal” (“Mutaré como animal del monte”), the feature debut of rising Venezuelan talent Hector Silva.
Lead produced by Berlin-based Venezuelan producer Rodolfo Cova whose credits include Venice Golden Lion winner “From Afar” and Michel Franco’s Cannes Un Certain Regard winner “Las Hijas de Abril,” “I Will Mutate Like a Jungle Animal” is among the 28 titles in the Sanfic Industria Santiago Lab which supports Ibero-American projects in development.
De Bourguignon and Equeco join international co-producers Pomme Hurlante Films (France), Artrupe Films (Brazil) and Abismo Cine (Ecuador) who were also drawn to the feature debut of Silva whose award-winning short films have played in prominent film festivals, including Cannes, Toronto and Tribeca.
“Hector’s shorts deeply moved me. He has a knack for creating atmospheres that transport us with very human characters that always feel real and genuine,” said De Bourguignon.
“When I saw Héctor’s shorts I was fascinated by the atmosphere that surrounds his films, the good taste and the subtlety with which he conveys the stories and the characters,” Cova concurred, who added: “Co-productions, in addition to being a financing mechanism, is a cultural exchange that contributes to the artistic growth of the project and should be used to its full potential and fostered by all countries.”
“Sanfic’s Santiago Fiction Lab gives us the opportunity to grow and add powerful Chilean co-producers like Matías and Equeco, a decisive boost at this stage,” he remarked. The team is on the lookout for investors, post-production partners and a sales agent at Santiago Lab.
“Mutate…” turns on 20-year-old Brayan who returns after a long absence to his Afro-descendant village in a remote Venezuelan jungle. After he starts dreaming of an animal hiding in the foliage, the lines between reality and dreams begin to blur. Unsure on whether to leave his country in crisis or embrace his ancestral roots, Brayan sets out deep into the jungle in search for answers.
According to Silva, he began working on his feature shortly after Venezuela’s deepening crisis forced him to leave Venezuela for Chile where he now resides. He set his story in San José, a remote Afro-descendant community located south of his native region (Zulia state).
“Since my first visit twelve years ago, I formed a deep bond with its people,” he said. “This film is inspired by a combination of my personal experience after leaving my home and the actual experiences of my friends in San José,” he said, adding: “Brayan’s tale is also the story of millions of young Venezuelans with fewer opportunities, racked by uncertainty, who are trying to forge a better future for their families at a critical time in our country’s history.” This is a theme that he touches on in his 2015 short, “Anfibio” (“Amphibian”) about two close brothers who are torn by the older one’s urge to leave home.
De Bourguignon, a former producer at Jirafa who left to pursue his MBA at the Columbia Business School in New York, is back in the saddle as an independent producer and is also a co-producer in “Ladron de Perros” by Vinko Tomicic (Biennale College, Best Pitch winner at the 2019 Cinefondation), now in post. His credits include Francisca Alegria’s Sundance 2022 entry “La vaca que canto una canción hacia el futuro”; “Divino Amor” by Gabriel Mascaro (Sundance 2019) and “The Summer of the Electric Lion” by Diego Cespedes, winner of the top prize at the 2018 Cannes Cinefondation.
Equeco is founded by producer Pablo Calisto and director Tomás Alzamora, whose first international hit was his feature debut, “Little White Lie.” At last year’s Cannes, they brought three features and a short to the Marché du Film, ranging in themes from dramedies to experimental thrillers and mockumentaries.
Calisto, Alzamora and De Bourguignon, in their early thirties, belong to the new generation of post-Pinochet media-savvy Chilean producers who embrace a range of material with global, universal appeal.