Chile’s Santiago Lab, the Santiago Film Festival’s industry initiative to support Ibero-American projects in development, has selected 28 titles, 14 fiction and 14 documentaries, culled out of hundreds of entries from across Latin America and Spain.
Some of the titles were picked from other festivals’ industry events such as “Diamante,” from Malaga’s Mafiz; Constanza Figari’s “A Woman Wants to Die,” which Sanfic awarded at Industria Guadalajara this year, along with “MC Silencio,” a Colombian production from Medellin, an emerging audiovisual hub in Colombia, said Sanfic Industry head and festival co-founder, Gabriela Sandoval.
The same goes for some of the documentaries such as “The Silence of a Patio” a gripping documentary about the dark history of the Casa de la Beneficencia of Castellón, Spain which was presented at Doc Valencia. Docu “Bloques Erraticos” is the first full-length feature doc of Thomas Woodroffe whose acclaimed shorts include “Austral Fever” and “Holding Desire.”
Sanfic Industry leaned on its advisors for the selection. For the fiction titles, they had producer and sales agent Arturo Pérez and Colombian helmer Simon Mesa who won the Cannes Palme d’Or for his short film “Laidi” and whose debut feature “Amparo” was at Cannes’ Critics Week last year.
The documentary advisors were Colombian producer and distributor Consuelo Castillo and Rodolfo Castillo, a director, producer as well as programming director of the Guadalajara International Film Festival and DocuLab.
This year’s Santiago Lab features projects from new and established talent hailing from Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, México, Costa Rica, Brazil, Venezuela, Guatemala, Spain, Ecuador, Cuba and the Dominican Republic.
Santiago Lab Fiction
Bolivia, Argentina. Dir: Yashira Jordan Producer: Empatia Cinema, Alvaro Olmos
Yashira Jordan’s debut, set in Bolivia, won the Sanfic honor to participate in its mentoring sessions at Malaga’s Mafiz. It follows Petra, a rebellious Indigenous teen who performs trap music. One day she receives a message from her estranged father and sets out to reunite with him alongside a friend she makes along the way, Leo de Vinci.
“A Woman Wants to Die” (“Una Mujer Quiere Morir”)
Chile, France. Dir: Constanza Figari Prod: Niña Niño Films, Roberto Doveris
The winner of the Sanfic award at Guadalajara’s Co-production Meet in June, this is Figari’s second feature after her lauded abortion drama, “Siete Semanas.” As the title infers, Fernanda wants to die but her mother is bent on preventing her suicide.
“MC Silence” (“MC Silencio”)
Colombia. Dir: Germán Arango Rendón aka Luckas Perro
Prod: Briosa Films, Yira Plaza
Another winner of the Sanfic award at Guadalajara’s Co-production Meet in June, the drama focuses on a young aspiring rap singer, Jeff, who enlists his childhood friend Victor to perform together. But Victor joins the paramilitary instead.
“Kicks of Soil” (“Pies de Tierra”)
Guatemala. Dir: Leyzer Chiquin Prod: Cuenca Studios
An emerging talent from Guatemala, Indigenous director Leyzer Chiquin, whose short “The Girl and the Harp” participated in the NY Americas film fest, trains his camera on Argelia, a young Mayan girl from Guatemala who lives with her sickly mother and alcoholic father. She finds meaning and an escape from reality when she discovers Taekwondo.
Canada, Mexico. Dir: Andrea Martínez Crowther Prod: MadreFoca, Luis Naguil
By award-winning Canadian-Mexican helmer Andrea Martinez whose “Insignificant Things” was executive produced by Guillermo del Toro. “Labranza” turns on four farmworkers in different stages of their lives who travel to a farm in Ontario, Canada for an eight-month stay. There each of them will have to face their own fears and limitations as they embark on the next phase in their lives.
“Muere la Paz”
Costa Rica. Dir: Juan Luis Araya Prod: En Tiempo Liquido, Patricia Velazquez
A Costa Rican drama by actor Juan Luis Araya (“Gestacíon”) which centers on a grandfather, Torillo, and his granddaughter who set out to find their lost mare. Torillo feels guilty over the death of a neighbor’s boy who was run over while rescuing two dogs that he had abandoned. He attempts to adopt the surviving dog but the boy’s mother wants it for herself. Finding the mare is Torilla’s last chance at redemption.
“The South” (“El Sur”)
Chile. Dir. Pablo Cerda Prod. Rodrigo Pino Espinoza
Chilean actor-dancer Pablo Cerda’s second directorial outing. Pic turns on a German journalist who follows the trail of an illegal shipment to South America which turns out not to be hashish but a more lethal drug. She goes up against corrupt officials and international pressure to expose the contraband.
“Land Without Evil” (“Terra Sem Males”)
Brazil. Dir-Prod: Giovani Borba
The third feature by Borba whose award-winning debut film “Empty House” had its world premiere at the Rio Film Fest. Also set in the countryside, “Land without Evil” zeroes in on the Freitas family brothers whose plantation is beset by severe drought. To escape their misery, the older brother accepts a job in the Amazon rainforest. When he doesn’t hear from his brother, the younger sibling accepts the same job where he hopes to find his brother. The grinding work reveals a system of modern-day slavery.
“I Will Mutate Like a Jungle Animal” (“Mutaré Como Animal De Monte”)
Venezuela, France. Dir. Héctor Silva Núñez Prod. Genuino Films, Rodolfo Cova
Produced by Rodolfo Cova, whose credits include Venice Golden Lion winner, “From Afar” and Michel Franco’s Un Certain Regard winner, “Las Hijas de Abril. “Mutate..” tracks 20-year-old Brayan who returns from the city to his Afro-descendant village in a remote Venezuelan jungle after a long absence. Faced with the dilemma of leaving his country in crisis or embracing his ancestral roots, Brayan sets out in search of answers hidden in the depths of the mountain.
“Freddy & Willington”
Colombia. Dir. Carlos Augusto Rojas Prod. Calambur Films, Julian Sánchez
The debut feature of writer Rojas, whose credits include lauded short “Un Barril” and mini-series “La Vida es Como,” centers on 10-year-old twin brothers who face each other on a soccer field oblivious to that fact that they are playing for the fate of their community and for the fate of a fisherman condemned several years before they were born.
“Queen of the Woods” (“Reina del Bosque”)
Argentina, Chile. Dir. Lujan Loioco Prod. Libre Cine, Mariano Turek
The third film of Loioco turns on a pregnant girl, Julia who cares for her dying father, whom she hasn’t seen in years. Alone together in a snow-bound cabin, they share a distant and reproachful bond. Isolation and the imminent arrival of life and death produce a hallucinated state where the present, the past and dreams coexist.
“What Remains Between Us” (“Lo que queda entre nosotros”)
Chile. Dir. Carlos Dittborn Prod. Cinemadiccion, Paulina Costa
Debut feature of editor Dittborn known for his London-based shorts. Film focuses on a Chilean couple in their late 30s who are immigrants in Paris. After 15 years together, they face the challenge of being new parents while Paris is overcome by terrorist attacks.
Argentina, Chile. Dir. Martín Emiliano Díaz Prod. Ianvoka, Fernanda Chain Fuentes
The second feature of director, editor, video artist Diaz whose debut pic “Lo Habitado” premiered at the 17th Sanfic. “Bernal” follows a young Chilean student in Buenos Aires who works as a delivery man and is active in a left-wing organization. One day, his partner suffers a heart attack and at the hospital, he’s forced to make some hard decisions while facing an unfamiliar health system and his own personal and ideological contradictions.
“Professor Leda” (“Profesora Leda”)
Colombia. Dir. David David Prod. Garabato Cine, Carolina David
Colombia’s David David snagged two awards for his debut feature “La Frontera” (“The Border”) at the 2018 Sanfic Industria event and another from the Malaga fest. His new film focuses on a teacher, the titular Professor Leda, who checks on a constantly absent student to find out that the father, a former guerrilla fighter who has been struggling to return to civilian life, has abandoned the family. Meanwhile, her student wants to learn to play the accordion and become an artist.