Ahead of its world premiere screening as part of Berlinale’s Generation 14plus strand, Alief has swooped on global sales to Dominican director Victoria Linares Villegas’s second non-fiction feature, “Ramona,” and has provided Variety exclusive access to its first look trailer.

After its Berlin run, “Ramona” is set for a North American bow at the True False Documentary Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri this March, where Linares will receive the Visionary Award.

A postmodern look into the class divide and lives of an already vulnerable population, the project has emerged as a documentary with glimpses of scripted narrative, which the director credits to the adolescents she interviewed; their predicaments became paramount. 

“I started developing ‘Ramona’ in 2016 as a fiction film, about a pregnant teenager who escapes the outskirts of Santo Domingo in search of a casting call for her favorite telenovela,” Linares recounted in a statement.

“As I was writing the screenplay, I interviewed several of these Dominican teenagers, seeking to capture a true representation rather than a caricature. This felt all the more crucial given that the Dominican Republic has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in Latin America and the Caribbean,” she added. 

Turning the film into an eye-opening affair where both actress and director come to terms with their gaze, examining the intricacies of youth, hardship, prejudice and strength, the pandemic also nudged Linares to consider the best production angle for the film. 

“We had to leave the comfort of a soundstage, a world of artificiality, to find truth in the process, so that I could bring it back in with us — renewed, reinvented by the girls who were living through it. Reality had to become fiction, and vice versa,” she stated.

Linares debut non-fiction release, “It Runs In The Family,” a bombastic and radical study of her lineage, stacked up accolades, screening as an official selection at True/False, BAFICI, Outfest LA, DOC NYC and the Málaga Film Festival.

“Ramona” is produced by Jordi Gassó at the Dominican Republic’s Lantica Media (”Holy Beasts”) alongside Rafael Llaneza and Pedro García at Sky Films, the film division of the Dominican’s SkyPro Entertainment group, and its teaser opens with a snippet of Dominican actress Camila Santana in a dark theater, spotlight on her as she prepares to recite lines from a script.

The trailer then cuts to Santana as she speaks to stylists that wrap a prosthetic pregnancy belly around her waist, remarking that she’s out of her depth for her role as the title character Ramona, a pregnant teenager.

An empty stage and theater sets play as a transition, the teaser then cutting to a montage of the young women interviewed as they gaze towards the camera and offscreen, the rural towns they inhabit flash briefly, contrasting their circumstances with that of more affluent peers.

Scripted by Linares and Diego Cepeda, the vision set to screen dictates an audience listens to the stories told as close to home as possible. An eye-opening foray into the divide and a stirring narrative that examines stolen youth, fortitude and the young folks striving to keep their character in check from a society that brandishes a sharp tongue and a judgemental edict upon those simply living the lives passed on to them.

Brett Walker, president of Alief, told Variety that the company is delighted to come back to Berlinale in person with the Caribbean warmth of ‘Ramona’.” 

Miguel Angel Govea, a partner at Alief, added, “’We feel smart documentary audiences will be transfixed by Victoria’s kind, skilful and cinematic storytelling.” 

Ramona poster Courtesy of Alief