June 23, 2024

There’s “an enormous amount of fresh talent coming through, and those new voices, that for the most part don’t come from the U.S.,” CAA Media Finance’s said at San Sebastian’s Creative Investors Conference this September.

Getting noticed ia another matter. Global content spend has near doubled in a decade, from $136 billion in 2013 to $250 billion this year, according to Ampere Analysis. 

The same cannot be seen of media coverage of new movies. Quite the reverse: At most outlets, it has radically declined. 

Enter Huelva. They also often announce undoubted new talent to track, as Latin America has built film schools and passed film laws, creating a seemingly bottomless well of new talent. 

Also taking in Luis Mandoki’s 17th fiction feature, Daniela Goggi’s fourth the second and third respectively from Renée Nader Messora and João Salaviza, Huelva’s 12 competition movies have very often won significant prizes at prominent festivals, and yet demand far more media attention.

Below, Variety explains why:    

“Adolfo,” (Sofía Auza, Mexico, U.S.)

Auza’s auspicious debut, produced by Fremantle-backed The Immigrant and made in a U.S. indie tradition, quirkily charting the meeting of Hugo and Momo, both vulnerable from recent tragedy, who meet at a bus stop and spend the night talking. “Sofia paints a world where pain very much exists but is mitigated by the warmth of human connection,” say The Immigrant’s Camila Jiménez-Villa and Silvana Aguirre. 

“Almamula,” (Juan Sebastián Torales, Argentina, France, Italy)

Moved with his family after a homophobic attack to a hamlet in Argentina’s deep North-West, Nino is a gradually attracted – out of shame, guilt and budding erotic desire – to the figure of Almalula, a beast that abducts the sexually impure. A 2019 San Sebastian Forum and 2022 Ventana Sur winner, scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, garnering praise as a distinctive, darker LGBTQ title and study of the genesis of local legends.  

Almamula

“Boca Chica,” (Gabriella A. Moses, Dominican Republic) 

Desi, 12, dreams about becoming a famous singer. Some, even people close to her, have more sinister designs. Written by Marité Ugás, Mariana Rondón, co-scribes and director (Rondón) of San Sebastian Golden Shell winner and experts in socially grounded broader audience family dramas. Moses delivers eye-catching direction and an arresting lead performance by Scarlet Camilo, the Tribeca Fest noted.

Boca Chica

“Chronicles of a Wandering Saint,” (Tomás Gómez Bustillo, Argentina) 

A mystical feature debut whose unwaveringly upbeat SXSW critical reaction established Bustillo as a talent to track, “Saint” blends magical realism and Tati-ish comedy of the absurd starring Monica Villa as a pious woman plotting her path to sainthood. “A see-it-to-believe-it visual treat,” sentenced the Austin Chronicle’s Dex Wexler.

“The Buriti Flower,” (Renée Nader Messora and João Salaviza, Portugal, Brazil)

Having walked off with a Cannes Un Certain Regard Jury Prize in 2018 for “The Dead and the Others,” this year the Portuguese filmmaking duo scored again with “The Buriti Flower,” a portrait of the Krahos people’s ever more sophisticated battle for land rights – including a red carpet protest at Cannes – while tabling an urgent dialogue on the means of resistance in a modern world.

The Buriti Flower

“Power Alley,” (Lillah Halla, Brazil) 

A suspense-filled abortion drama turning on talented volleyball player Sofia who pregnant seeks an abortion but is targeted by a fundamentalist group hell-driven on stopping her. Halla’s debut feature, and sold promisingly by M-Appeal to an initial bevy of territories, including the U.K.and Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Benelux, Switzerland and Portugal.

Power Alley

“Presencias,” (Luis Mandoki, Mexico)

A ViX original, sold by 102 Distribution, turns on Victor who wakes up to be told by a police detective that his wife has died pregnant with his child. Unable to ember anything, he investigates. But the truth is more horrifying than any nightmare. Huelva stages “Presencias’” international premiere.

Presencias

“Prison in the Andes,” (“Penal Cordillera,” Felipe Carmona, Chile, Brazil) 

Five key military figures from Pinochet’s cruel regime now reside in a plush Andean prison serving sentences totaling hundreds of years for crimes against humanity. However, a televised interview by one of the inmates triggers a public backlash. A metaphor on Chilean society, combining true events with fictional elements, “Prison” is produced by Chile’s Cinestación (“Chile ’76”) and sold by Luxbox, a prime purveyor of high-profile Spanish-language titles.   

Prison in the Andes

“The Rescue,” (“El Rapto,” Daniela Goggi, Argentina)

Featuring a hefty turn by “Money Heist’s” Rodrigo de la Serna and made by Argentine industry aristocracy – Paramount Television International Studios, Infinity Hill (“Argentina 1985”) and Rei Cine (“The Settlers”) –  a labyrinthine political thriller unfolding in smoke filled rooms in which the hopes of Argentine democracy are soured by kidnapping and corruption, showing a country moving from but still grappling with its past.  

The Rescue

“La Suprema,” (Felipe Holguín, Colombia)

Set in a hamlet off the Caribbean coast, in the middle of nowhere, without even electricity, a feel-good ode to collective effort as villagers rally around knows-her-own mind teen Laureana, a wannabe boxer, who’s determined to secure a TV to watch her estranged uncle fight in a boxing world championship. A potential crowdpleaser. 

La Suprema

“Upon Open Sky,” (Mariana, Santiago Arriaga, Mexico)

Backed by upscale Argentine powerhouse K&S Films, “a searing coming-of-age road trip movie,” Variety wrote, penned by Guillermo Arriaga(“Amores Perros,” “Babel”) directed by his children where, “as is common in Arriaga’s scripts, the tale finds its potency in the intricate moral grays of the human condition, here portrayed through a collection of strikingly incisive performances by the young cast.” 

Upon Open Sky

“Valentina or the Serenity,” (“Valentina o la Serenidad,” Angeles Cruz, Mexico)

A Toronto world premiere, a second feature from actor turned notable writer director Cruz after the well received “Nudo Mixteco,” a Mexican Academy best first feature winner. Here little Valentina refuses to accept that her late father than gone. “Rather than dwell in sadness, this tenderly poignant tale of loss is uplifted and upheld by the joyous nature of love,” the Toronto Festival observed. 

Callum McLennan and Anna Marie de la Fuente contributed to this article. 

Valentina or the Serenity

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