Mexico’s “All the Fires” and “We Shall Not Be Moved” and Chile’s “Sariri” look like buzz titles at this year’s Ventana Sur Primer Corte and Copia Final, the biggest single industry draws at Ventana Sur, which is both Latin America’s most important movie market and a springboard for selection at at Sundance, Berlin and Cannes.
Backed by the Cannes Film Market and Festival and Argentina’s INCAA film agency, Primer Corte and Copia Final unspool over Nov. 28-Dec. 2 in Buenos Aires.
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Of best known titles, Copia Final features “Malta,” a troubled young woman’s drama and second feature from Colombia’s Natalia Santa whose debut, “The Dragon Defence,” played Cannes 2017 Directors’ Fortnight.
Argentine Juan Sebastian Torales’ “Almamula” was a 2019 San Sebastian Forum winner.
The main takeaway from this year’s double section pix-in-post lineup, however, is that Latin America’s spectacular surge in new directorial talent shows no signs of abating.
Directed with precision by Mauricio Calderón Rico, “All the Fires” traces a young teen’s desperate cry for attention after his father dies and mother takes up, naturally enough, with another man.
That’s par for the course at this year’s PC and CF where seven of the 12 titles feature young protagonists and coming of age narratives, a building trend in Latin America cinema, observed Eva Morsch-Kihn, who curated the two works in progress strands with María Nuñez and Pamela Bienzobas.
That path to a larger maturity may be framed by rebellion, as in Laura Donoso’s “Sariri” where Dina, 16, plans to escape to the city from her mining town, still suffering an archaic patriarchy, and take her young sister Sariri with her.
Or it may take in learning a new conception of life – Mexico’s “Xibalba Monster,” from Manuela Irene. A more major narrative – in German Tejada’s “The Innocents,” Argentine Juan Sebastian Torales’ “Almamula,” “All the Fires” and “Malta,” from– sees teen protagonists exploring their sexuality in a battle for self acceptance.
Five films have LGBTQ characters or overtones. But their sexuality do not define them as characters.
In “Goodbye, Love,” from Indra Villaseñor, U.S. immigrant Chuy returns to his native Sinaloa in Mexico to re-meet his best mate, with whom he shared a teen romance, now a narco boss. But “Goodbye Love” is “a love story, not a LGBTQ tale,” Morsch-Kihn insisted.
That said, films reflect a stronger presence of social diversity, “opening up to he the whole of society, whether culture, race or sexuality,” said Morsch-Kihn.
“‘Xibalba Monster’ targets a young public, which is welcome since there are not that many films from Latin America addressing this audience, and there is a demand,” she added.
Six films in the two sections are directed by women. “Such parity came very naturally, it didn’t have to be forced,” she said.
Further PC and CF titles include Brazilian Marcelo Botto’s “Betânia,” a singular second chance drama; Katia G. Zuñiga’s “The Daughters,” about two young sisters; and “Leon,” from Argentina’s Andrea Nachón and Papu Curotto, where a lesbian battles for custody of her dead partner’s son.
As ever, the lineup does not ignore Latin. America’s tragic past. From Argentina’s Eduardo Serra, the 1978-set “Correspondent” sees a journalist collaborating with Argentina’s sinister secret services. In “We Shall Not Be Moved,” Socorro, 67, a lawyer sets out to avenge her brother death decades before in 1968’s Tlatelolco massacre.
Ventana Sur’s 2022 Primer Corte, Copia Final 2022. Brief details:
“Betânia” (Marcelo Botto, Brazil)
After the husband’s death, Betânia, 64, moves from a house on the dunes to a village to attempt a second chance at life. After “Abestalhados 2,” the second feature from Botto, who has carved out a career as a TV Series director with “Foca News” for Fox and Comedy Central hit “Auto Posto.” Salvatore Filmes produces.
“Goodbye, Love,” (“Adios, Amor,” Indra Villaseñor, Mexico)
From the director of Morelia 2020 best action short ”Pinky Promise,” seen at the Morelia Cannes Critics Week showcase in 2021, the first feature from Villaseñor, sneak peaked at Morelia’s Impulso. A U.S. immigrant, Chuy is deported, returns to Mexico, to Sinaloa to discover his fishing village is gone, overrun by narco gangs.
“Leon,” (“Leon,” Andrea Nachón, Papu Curotto, Argentina)
Julia’s girlfriend, Barbie, has died leaving her battling to keep their restaurant afloat and retain custody of Barbie’s son, whom they raised together. To be helmed by Nachón and Curroto, writer and director of “Esteros,” which won a Special Jury Prize and Audience Award at Brazil’s Gramado Festival, with Curotto now co-producing “Ñusta.”
“The Innocents,” (“Los Inocentes,” Germán Tejada, Peru, Mexico)
Cara de Angel, 14, a boy of androgynous beauty attempts to prove his masculinity taking part in a robbery as he feels hugely attracted to Johnny, a punk band singer and his young girlfriend. “Betrayal, sex, rock, confusion and the end of innocence,” the synopsis runs. Tejada’s first feature after his short “Hueco” won the coveted Canal+ Award at France’s prestigious Clémont Ferrand Festival. From Señor Z, the Peruvian co-producer of the standout “Huesera.”
“Sariri,” (Laura Donoso, Chile)
Donoso’s graduate feature at Chile’s Cine UDD, has Sariri, 11, experiencing her first menstruation, and attempting to escape across the desert from her staunchly patriarchal home mining town of La Lágrima, where menstruation deemed malignant.
“Xibalba Monster,” (“Monstruo de Xibalba,” Manuela Irene, Mexico)
Intent on learning abut death, Rogelia spends a summer with an old man, allegedly a monster, and learns a new way of conceiving life. Another first feature, from Irene, whose short, Sol de Llano, played Clermont Ferrand and Huelva. Selected for the Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund works in progress showcase at Mexico’s Los Cabos Festival.
“Almamula,” (Juan Sebastián Torales, France, Argentina)
A standout Eurimages Award winner at San Sebastian’s 2019 Co-production Forum, the fantasy drama sees a young boy assaulted for being homosexual. Consumed by guilt, he hopes to attract the Almamula: a legendary creature which captures those committing impure sexual acts. From France’s Tu Vas Voir (“The Kings of the World,” “Ixcanul”) and Argentina’s Twin Latin Towns.
“All the Fires,” (Todos los incendios, Mauricio Calderón Rico, Mexico)
Sexually confused, resenting his mother’s new b.f, Bruno, a teen pyromaniac, escapes from home, attempts to affirm his masculinity with a young girl pyromanic, he meets online. From Calderón, an alum of Mexico City’s Centro de Diseño, Cine y Televisión and founder of the Colmena Collective, behind last year’s Cineasti del Presente entry “Mostro.”
“Correspondent,” (“Corresponsal,” Eduardo Serra, Argentina)
A correspondent at Argentina’s 1978 World Cup collaborates with its secret service, covering up their assassinations. The second fiction feature from doc director Serra, after “Cartero” took a special mention at 2019’s Bafici. Behind Marco Berger’s “Young Hunter,” Sombracine produces.
“The Daughters,” (“Las Hijas,” Katia G. Zuñiga, Panamá, Chile)
From Ceibita Films (“The Desert Bride”), the coming of age tale of two teen sisters who travel from Costa Rica to Panam to look for their father. The feature debut of actor-turned-director Zuñiga.
“Malta,” (Natalia Santa, Colombia Argentina)
Santa’s second feature after “The Dragon Defence” played Cannes 2017 Directors’ Fortnight, it turns on Mariana, 20, who dreams of running away from her city, her mother and, above all, herself. Colombia’s Perro de Monte produces with Argentina’s Oh My Gómez! France’s Temps Noir and Norway’s Hummelfilm.
“We Shall Not Be Moved,” (“No nos moverán,” Pierre Saint Martin Castellanos, Mexico)
After decades of obsession, Socorro, 67, a lawyer, identifies the soldier who killed her brother in 1968’s Tlatelolco massacre. She sets out for revenge, risking her legacy, family and life. Handled as black comedy by Saint Martin Castellanos, a Berlinale Talent Campus alum. Produced by Mexico’s Varios Lobos, behind bold plays “The Darkness” and “Tragic Jungle.”
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