“History of the Occult” director Cristian Ponce, “The Trace We Leave Behind” producer André Pereira and “Huesera” producer Edher Campos all have projects at the 3rd Sanfic Morbido Lab, Sanfic’s genre/fantastic film showcase which looks packed with riches.
Also noticeable, three of the six projects are set to be directed by female genre auteurs – Argentina’s Laura Sánchez Acosta, Spain’s Marta Medina del Valle and French-Spanish screenwriter Elisa Puerto Aubel – as women create an ever larger number of the most exciting elevated genre movies coming out of Spain and Latin America.
Appropriately enough, given Sanfic takes place in Santiago de Chile, Chile accounts for two projects at the Lab, Daniel Aspillaga’s “Plasma,” a part body horror mockumentary, and Cristián Grez Donoso’s “Magic Word,” turning on an aged and crazed former amusement park actor.
The potential impact of projects is underscored by recent events. On “A Mother’s Embrace,” Pereira at Brazil’s Lupa Filmes – whose “The Trace We Leave Behind” was the highest-grossing Brazilian horror movie in the last 30 years, – produces Ponce, whose “History of the Occult” was the highest rated horror for Letterboxd’s 2021 Year in Review.
Campos , producer of Cannes Festival winners “Leap Year” and “La Jaula de Oro,” produced “La Huesera,” acquired by XYZ Films for U.S. theatrical release.
Many projects draw a bigger social picture.
“’Caw’ is a film in which fantasy and genre are not simply tools to tell and preserve folkloric myths and aboriginal monsters but also expose, criticize and denounces an urgent reality in northeastern Argentina: Kidnapping and human trafficking,” said Sánchez Acosta.
“I was raised in Soria, the most depopulated region in Spain, a demographic desert. Many villages are abandoned today. Are we the modern ghosts of these ghost stories?” asks Medina del Valle.
Tutors at this year’s Sanfic-Mórbido Lab include Gonzalo Maza, screenwriter of Academy Award winner “A Fantastic Woman.”
“This year’s selection is the most robust to date that we’ve had, with titles from the whole of the continent, from the north with Mexico to the south with Brazil, a special emphasis on Chile, and, for the first time, participation from Spain,” commented Grupo Mórbido CEO Pablo Guisa.
Guisa added: “50% of the projects are from women, with very interesting names participating from producers André Pereira and Edher Campos, director Cristian Ponce and new talents to discover such as Marta Medina. I’m proud and excited.”
The 3rd Sanfic-Mórbido Lab 2022 lineup:
“Caw,” (“Solapa,” Laura Sánchez Acosta, Argentina, Uruguay)
Teen Malena plunges deep into the forest to rescue her little sister, kidnapped in the middle of a party by an apparent mythological creature: The Solapa. But, in the forest and the shadows, there are more dangerous monsters than the ones that live in the folktales. A feature-length expansion on Sánchez Acosta’s fest fave short of the same title backed by Argentina’s Cruz del Sur Cine (“Limbo”) and Far Away Cine (“Yésica”) and Uruguay’s Sueko Films (“Reus”).
“Lapland,” (“Laponia,” Marta Medina del Valle, Spain)
Eva, a young student, Héctor, a topographer who drives a Google Street View Car, and Saturio, a farmer, get involved in a series of mysterious disparitions that have taken place in the same region of Soria, Spain, at different times. What politicians and demographers call the ‘emptied Spain,’ however, could be the result of something deeper and ancestral. It could be the land punishing those who abandon it, the projects’ synopsis runs. A buzzy project from ECAM Madrid Film School alum Medina del Valle, winner of an Academia de Cine residency.
“Magic Word,” (“Mundo Mágico,” Cristián Grez Donoso, Chile)
Alfredo (65), a former amusement park actor now working at a home for the terminally ill, promises Isidora (8), his friend and leukemia patient, to put on a play to surprise. Violent psychotic episodes lead to Alfredo’s dismissal but don’t dampen his determination stage the play, even if he has to kill to do so. Written by Grez Donoso, who’s also set to direct, “Magic Word” is produced by Majo Einfalt at Chile’s Imaginario Contenidos. “This project delves into the horror of decadence and desolation that have always existed in our society when it comes to the elderly, a forgetfulness of people that more than one of us are afraid of,” Grez Donoso told Variety.
“A Mother’s Embrace,” (“Abrazo de Madre,” Cristián Ponce, Brazil)
When a major storm hits Rio de Janeiro, Ana and her team of firefighters must evacuate a nursing home at risk of collapsing – but they soon find the mysterious residents in the house have other plans. Ponce’s second live-action feature. “With this project, I seek to continue exploring several themes close to me already developed to a certain extent during ‘The Kirlian Frequency’ and ‘History of the Occult’: Notions of paranoia, religion, existentialism and the construction of identity through our relationship with others,” said Ponce.
“Plasma,” (Daniel Aspillaga, Chile)
Set up at Chile’s hu+mano production house, a fiction feature film come body horror mockumentary. A flesh sphere with tentacles gravitates across the sky of Valparaíso, generating in its inhabitants an uncontrollable desire for liberation and well-being and genetic modification, they tell a film crew which records the end of the world.
“Pups,” (“Cachorros,” Elisa Puerto Aubel, Mexico)
Mexicali, on the U.S border: Drought, corruption and cantinas. Zoo vet Clara Vásquez is brought a wolf pup, with whom she connects immediately. Suddenly, strange things happen and terrifying wolves appear wanting to reclaim the pup. The potential feature film debut of Madrid-based Puerto Aubel who penned Sitges “La venganza de Jairo,” backed by “Huesera” producer Edher Campos at Mexico’s Machete Producciones.