Kattia G. Zúñiga, Director of Malaga Screener ‘Sister & Sister,’ Lines Up Panamanian Dance Drama (EXCLUSIVE)

Sister and Sister
Courtesy of Malaga Film Festival

Panamanian-Costa Rican director Kattia G. Zúñiga, whose debut feature “Las hijas” (“Sister & Sister”) premieres at the Malaga Film festival, is developing a new feature project about women finding their and a tougher attitude late in life through the power of dance. The project re-teams her with “Las Hijas” producer Alejo Crisóstomo.

“Rabiosas” (“Raging”, their project, follows a group of 55-year-old friends in Panama who decide to take ballet classes together, as they did when they were schoolgirls, in order to cheer up a friend going through a difficult time and also to get out of the routine of daily life. Inspired by their 26-year-old teacher, however, they soon switch to bolder dancing moves.

Their coach encourages them to release their emotions, especially pent-up anger, and not only in the studio but in their regular lives. As their development intensifies, they begin to experience changes in the way they perceive themselves and the world around them.

“I feel completely free when I’m dancing,” says Zúñiga. “I was lucky to grow up in a society where dancing is a well-accepted pleasure, especially if you are a woman.”

She adds, however, that women in her country are “better accepted when they are smiling, when they apologize before speaking, when they don’t contradict.

“They taught us that confrontation is dangerous. How can we manifest anger then, that basic and primitive emotion that, like dance, inhabits our body?”

Zúñiga and Crisóstomo are presenting the project for the first time to industry professionals at the Films in Development event at the Toulouse Latin American Film Festival, which runs March 24-April 2.

Meanwhile, “Sister & Sister,” a Panamanian-Chilean co-production, is having its European premiere in Malaga, where it unspools in main competition, following a world premiere at South by Southwest.

Produced by Ceibita Films and Mente Pública, the autobiographical story follows two sisters, Marina, 17, and Luna, 14, who travel from Costa Rica to Panama during their summer vacation in search of their absent father. On their journey, the sisters deal with tensions that arise between them but also find space to explore their desires, new friendships, lovers, skateboarding and the taste of emancipation.

Ariana Chaves Gavilán and Cala Rossel Campos make their acting debuts in the film. “Sister & Sister” was produced by Crisóstomo, who also lensed the film, Zúñiga, Isabella Gálvez Peñafiel and Said Isaac.

Zúñiga  previously produced and starred in both Crisóstomo’s Costa Rican co-production “Nina y Laura” and Paz Fábrega’s 2015 Costa Rican drama “Viaje.” Berlin-based Pluto Film is selling “Sister & Sister” internationally.