May 23, 2024

BUENOS AIRES —  Mr. Miyagi Films co-founder David Matamoros, firmly established as one of Barcelona’s leading specialists in international film finance, is now in post-production on his solo feature directorial debut, “Astronaut” (“Astronauta”) as Matamoros explores novel movie financing sources as a producer while building co-productions across Europe and Latin America. 

Produced by Mr. Miyagi, Sombra Cine and Mother Superior and backed by Spain’s ICAA, Argentina’s INCAA, Uruguay’s PUA and Catalan pubcaster TV3, “Astronaut” which is set for delivery in early 2024, weighs in as a queer romcom which questions classic romcom narratives, asking in a bigger picture what now form bedrock affective family relationships in a modern age. 

Inspired by true events that actually happened to the director, Matamoros freely admits, “Astronaut” turns on David, an inveterate romantic film producer who organizes a trip down Route 66 with a stop in Las Vegas but is rejected by his partner of 15 years when he pops the question in front of everybody. 

Set on marriage, he has only 10 days to find someone to marry.

“Astronaut” joins a new generation of gay romantic comedies in which the protagonists’ queerness is not the real issue, Matamoros observes, citing Amazon-produced “Red, White & Royal Blue.” 

“These titles aren’t talking about coming out nor existential crises, but rather do something which is very interesting which is to put a homosexual couple in a place that would normally be occupied by a heterosexual couple, which is fantastic,” Matamoros said, adding that he didn’t want a “sexualised” film but rather one that worked at an emotional level.

A classic crossover proposition, “Astronaut” works at one level as a comedy about a mad guy looking for someone to marry at the other end of the earth, Matamoros observed. 

Beyond that, however, it delivers “a certain critique of the romantic comedy that we’ve been sold, romantic love which I was born with and brought up on,” he said. “That takes the spotlight off what’s really important, the person you have beside you, who’s there when you are crying, fall drunk, are happy, have a cold, get a raise or are sacked.”

In its reevaluation of the love narrative, how it has moved on as part of far more fluid bedrock relationships forging a new affective world, “Astronaut” connects with a building canon of titles from the Spanish-speaking world, some of which will be presented or announced at this year’s Ventana Sur.

“Astronaut” was shot in Spanish. “The film begins with a Spanish couple who talk Spanish. One of the things I liked setting the film there is that people can talk Spanish all the time in the U.S. Afterwards, they meet people who also talk Spanish, girls from Korea, China and South-Africa, for instance. I like this nationality mix because I’m surrounded in my daily business by people of different nationalities.”

The co-production structure is equally cosmopolitan and inventive. Sombracine (“El sonido de los tulipanes”) is located in Argentina. “But it’s very easy to shoot in Buenos Aires and many parts look like Barcelona and we were able to incorporate Argentinian actors. 

Founded by Gustavo Hernández and Ignacio Cucucovich, Montevideo-based Mother Superior burst onto the scene with “La Casa Muda,” and now ranks as one of Latin America’s top rated fantastic genre production houses. Shot in Barcelona, Buenos Aires and Las Vegas over August-October, “Astronaut’s” Uruguay participation was very easy to arrange since it will handle a large part of post-production,” said Matamoros. 

Mr. Miyagi is as ever spreading the net to capture broader and higher caliber financing lines. 

“Restless Waters, Shivering Lights,” (“Faro”), the solo feature debut of Mr. Miyagi co-founder and “Isaac” director Angeles Hernández, plays at Ventana Sur as part of Blood Window Screenings. 

It closed the gap, thanks to moneys from the Fundació Foment Turisme de Mallorca, the Mallorca Film Commission and the Menorca Film Commission.

The Fundació has created what Matamoros calls “a highly sophisticated” scheme to attract shoots from all over, such as “The Hustle,” starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson. Crucially, Mallorca and Menorca financing is considered sponsorship rather than public funding, so it doesn’t breach Spain’s limits on the percentage of a pic’s budget that can be sourced from subsidies, Matamoros noted.

Mr. Miyagi is also in pre-production on “The Virgin of Quarry Lake,” from Laura Casabé (“Los que vuelven”) and a screenplay by “Rojo’s” Benjamin Naishtat, produced by Ajimolido, Mostra Cine, Mr. Miyagi & Caponeto, which will tap Mendoza’s fast burgeoning tax rebate system. 

“Mendoza is becoming a strategic partner in Miyagi’s creative collaboration with Argentina,” said Matamoros, noting that “The Trail of the Wolf,” Hernández’s next horror film, will partly shoot there. 

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