April 14, 2024

“Lonely Hearts,” the highly-anticipated third feature from Brazil’s Berlinale-winner Caru Alves de Souza (“My Name Is Baghdad”), named among 10 Next Gen Talents to Track from the country by Variety in February, and a pair of additional homecoming narratives from burgeoning creatives, Uruguayan director Paula Botana’s“The Burned Women” and Dora Gomez’s “Blanca” out of Paraguay, are among the titles selected for Ventana Sur’s 2023 Punto Genero pitching sessions.

Histories unearthed and intimate interpersonal relationships are dominant themes in the remaining selections with films like Argentina-Spain co-production “Brücher. Unaudited Botanical Chronicle,” from Mariana Guzzante and Camila Menéndez,Natalia Solórzano title “She Was Covered In Sequins” and Marta María Borrás’s “The Passengers For The Last Trip.” 

“This year, the juries wanted the projects to represent Latin America. We selected eight projects from Latin America, excluding the four projects from Argentina, and the juries decided on one project per country,” Franco Rovelli, manager of Punto Genero, told Variety.

“From there, they decided on the quality of the way the stories were told by the directors and producers. Some countries don’t have a selected project because we couldn’t choose more to be part of Punto Género, such as Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador. It was the most difficult selection that Punto Género had,” he added.

Popular themes that tackle adolescence and social justice also figure in the selections, albeit less hardily this round, with “Mar Del Beach” by Argentine director Milagros Aquilia and “Mama Lulú,” from Mar Rivera, a co-production between Mexico, Honduras and the U.S., respectively.

“Although it’s not visible in the official selection, we saw a coming-of-age trend, many stories that involved teenagers as the main character, in their way to discover their identity or sexuality,” Rovelli stated. 

“Also, documentaries are very important for the industry in this part of the world, but we saw them less than last year, 30 from this year, in comparison to the 45 documentaries registered on our call in 2022, proving that people want to make stories from zero, taking some of their life experience and turning it into a new story with its own world,” he added.

Punto Genero, which teams Género DAC (Argentine Film Directors) and Acción de Mujeres del Cine, continues to be a space that promotes the rightfully rising voices of women and non-binary Latin American cineastes, curating their developing stories and readying them for the broader market. Production tutoring workshop given by APIMA (Association of Independent Producers of Audiovisual Media) and distribution and exhibition tutoring workshop given by Género DAC (Argentinian Cinema Directors) figure into this year’s incentives.

“Ventana Sur gave us the opportunity in 2020. Year after year, in an artistic and statistical way, the section keeps growing, because Punto Género is a space not for genres, but for stories to tell,” Rovelli stated.

A further rundown of the selected titles:

“Where We Belong” (Obeida Benavides, Colombia)

A Black mother flees her wartorn hometown. After the tragic death of her son, she and her daughter go on to navigate their new community as a sage palenquera protects the young woman from her mother’s abuse, their move threatening to derail a dream. “A tribute to the refugee communities that drove the growth of Colombia’s Caribbean cities in the 1950’s,” relayed Benavides.

Leonor Manotas García at Primera Persona produces alongside Benavides, an award winning playwright and audiovisual multihyphenate.

“Blanca” (Dora Gomez, Paraguay)

With less than a month to make up for her long standing absence, Blanca attempts to win over the daughter she abandoned at birth by helping organize her quinceañera. “In essence, it’s about returning home and the uncertainties of the encounter of two strangers: mother and daughter,” Gomez stated.

Gomez is a founding member of the Paraguayan Scriptwriters Association “KUATIA” and a member of the JOPOI women’s audiovisual collective. The project is produced by Sady Barrios Producción & Comunicación and Sembradora Cine.

Brücher. Unaudited Botanical Chronicle” (Mariana Guzzante and Camila Menéndez, Argentina, Spain)

A cold case involving German botanist Heinz Brücher is reopened by a journalist following the discovery of his body. Connections between the murdered scientist, his Nazi ties and the creation of a plant borne illness are unearthed in the investigation linked to the theft of the world’s largest seed bank.

Produced by Silvana Laura Díaz Coppoletta of Curandero Producciones, the project won the Development Award at 2022’s Mirada Oeste Festival and was selected for the 2023 Bolivia Lab Laboratory.

Brucher. Cronica Botanica Inaudita
Courtesy of Ventana Sur

“Holy New Scriptures” (Noelia Crispín, Peru)

A young virgin realizes she’s immaculately conceived and “through drama, humor and fantasy, the story serves as a rewriting of the most famous story of all time, where God is now a woman,” Crispín related.

Crispín’s prior title “Níveo” was awarded in the National Short Film Contest of the Peruvian Ministry of Culture. The film is produced by Claudia Chávez at Amazona Producciones, who produced Thais Drassinower short “The Catch,” which premiered at Tribeca.

“Lonely Hearts” (Caru Alves de Souza, Brazil, France)

Julieta heads to São Paulo to settle her father’s will and discovers he’s left the fate of the family’s porn theater in her hands. She’s tasked with battling gentrification to help restore its fabled glory. “A unique and challenging film for all types of audiences, a comfortable journey to warm hearts,” Alves De Souza and producer Rafaella Costa commented.

The project is produced by Costa and Fernanda Denuzzo at Manjericão Filmes alongside French outfit Parati Films. 

She Was Covered In Sequins” (Natalia Solórzano, Costa Rica)

The life of a popular Costa Rican fortune teller Soralla is reconstructed by family, actors and the public as they sift through faded memories to reveal her dark, clandestine past. “The film explores the consequences of women challenging norms. Boldness, for women, has a price to pay,” Solorzano admitted.

ECAM alum Mariana Murillo Quesada, founder of Sputnik Films (“El sonido de las cosas”), produces the project directed by Solórzano (“La Bohemia”), who was backed by the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund in 2021.

She Was Covered In Sequins

“Behind Her Back” (Julia Elena Zárate and Julieta Ledesma, Argentina)

The story of Argentine director Maria Mistoni de Celestini ‘s lost film “My Right,” the first feminist silent title commercially released in the country. The creators tackle the filmmakers’ ongoing persecution and the uncertain fate of similar projects in today’s cinematic landscape.

The film is produced by Elena Zárate, who serves as president of the Mujeres Audiovisuales Association (MUA) alongside Ledesma, who acts as vice president in tandem with her role of professor at the University of Buenos Aires.

“The Burned Women” (Paula Botana, Uruguay)

20 years after being persecuted and banished from her hometown for her sexuality, Marina returns to the Uruguayan-Brazilian border for carnival festivities. There, she and her daughter reconnect and try to strengthen familial bonds as Marina works through past traumas in a film that’s “main theme is the stigmatization of female sexuality,” according to Botana.

Belén Ballesteros, head of production on the 2023 Pablo Solarz Berlinale title “Desperté con un sueño,” produces vía Bitácora Cine. 

The Burned Women
Courtesy of Ventana Sur

“Passengers for the Last Trip” (Marta María Borrás, Cuba, Colombia, France)

A young single mother on the brink impersonates the daughter of an elderly neighbor living with Alzheimers in order to improve her circumstances. “It’s a little bit my story, my mother’s story and my grandmother’s, who built the building where they live with their own hands,” said Borrás.

The film, which won the Cuban Film Development Fund’s production stipend, is produced by Borrás alongside Dany Celeiro, co-produced by Galaxia 311 and Temps Noir.

“Mom Lulú” (Mar Rivera, Mexico, United States, Honduras)

In Mexico City, devoted mother Lulú fights for justice after the murder of her beloved son. She becomes a resounding voice, barking up the system to honor his memory and ensure the crime against him doesn’t fade into obscurity while facing,“ a pain so huge that there isn’t even a word in the dictionary that can explain its nature,” according to creators.

Nohely Barahona, who has worked on projects for HBO and Netflix, produces alongside Rivera.

“Mar del Beach” (Milagros Aquilia, Argentina)

A coming-of-age film set in the Argentine beachside community of Mar del Plata. Pilar and Camila meet during the Bikini Open and experience their first love amidst a society that largely prohibits it, Aquilia noting: Carrying out this project is questioning what I couldn’t question, shouting something that I couldn’t even say before.”

Carolina Cesario produced the project directed by Aquilia, who worked as the director of photography on Andrés Duprat (“Official Competition”) short “Señales que inspiran.”

Mar Del Beach

“Orgasms, Sex and All That” (Teresa María Saporiti, Argentina)

Saporiti, whose prior credits include documentaries “Nelly Omar Cantora Nacional,” and “Sinfonía en Abril” as well as fiction title “Bahía Blanca,” turns a lens internal as she reflects on the social mandates that restrict her adult life, juxtaposing her ‘childish and playful past with her oppressed present.” A narrative supported by song that will provide an emotional counter.

The project is produced by María Alejandra Guzzo of arthouse production company Cereza Cine.

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