LOS CABOS, Mexico — Building the multi-partner co-production structure which is proving a hallmark of breakout international hits from Latin America, Paris-based Manny Films and Buenos Aires Haddock Films have joined Madrid’s Tornasol Films and Montevideo-based Salado to produce Alvaro Brechner’s anticipated “Memorias del calabozo.”
Also written by Brechner, “Memorias del calabozo,” was one of six projects presented at the inaugural Los Cabos Film Investors Summit on Friday. It won the Arte International Prize at the 2016 Berlin Co-Production Market.
The now four-way co-production reunites Tornasol and Haddock, which joined forces for Juan Jose Campanella’s Academy Award winner “The Secret in Their Eyes.”
“Memorias del Calabozo” also marks Manny Films’ latest Latino co-production after Pablo Fendrik’s 2014 “El Ardor,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Alicia Braga, and David Pablos’ Netflix pick-up “The Chosen Ones,” produced by Pablo Cruz at Canana and selected for Cannes 2015 Un Certain Regard.
More than anything else, however, it also underscores one competitive asset of Latin American narrative drama, whether film or TV fiction. Time and again, at Los Cabos’ first Film Investors Summit, panelists stressed the need for writers and directors to be original.
A director’s vision needs to be “singular, interesting, and unique” so that it will “stand stand out in a marketplace flooded with a lot of ordinary or mediocre films,” said Bec Smith, a literary agent at UTA.
Many, maybe most of the projects pitched at Los Cabos were based on true facts. Latin American history is so extraordinary, for good and bad, that its creative industries have a huge well of remarkable, unforgettable narratives to draw on. They just – and it’s no small challenge – have to coney their emotion, and their sense.
A humanist survival drama, the true-fact based “Memorias del calabozo” begins in September 1973 as Uruguay’s falls under military dictatorship and nine captured Tupamaro guerrilla members are subjected to a solitary confinement which will last 12 years. One, Jose Mugica, spent two years confined to the bottom of one emptied horses’ water trough.
Mujica went on to become a legendary president of Uruguay between 2010 and 2015, who dove to work in a battered car, refused to live in the presidential palace and was one major reason why The Economist chose Uruguay as its Country of the Year in 2013.
But rather than a political drama, Brechner has construe what a chronicle of a remarkable feat of physical and, above all, psychological resilience.
Star of “The Fury of a Patient Man” and “May God Save Us,” two standout big fest plays this late summer, Alvaro de la Torre, regarded as one of the finest Spanish actors of his generation, will play Jose Mujica. Chino Darin (“Death in Buenos Aires,” “The Queen of Spain”) co-stars. “Memorias de un calabozo” is based on the same-titled memoirs of Mauricio Rosencof and Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro, the other central figures of the film.
“My goal is to make a film which transcends historical events to tell the existential struggle of three men who cling to their spirit so as to maintain their humanity and hope,” said director Brechner, whose first two features, “Bad Day to Go Fishing” and “Mr. Kaplan” were both Uruguay’s Academy Award entries
He added: “Even in the darkest moments, the struggle and resistance of an individual for dignity should never be under-estimated.”
“Memorias del calabozo” is “based on a true-life figure and describes, describes a human journey, the creation of something positive in such negative context,” added Tornasol’s Mariela Besuievsky.
Shooting in Spain, Uruguay and Argentina, it is scheduled to go into production February to March 2017.