Dir/co-scr: Alejo Crisostomo
Prods: Alejo Crisostomo, Elias Jimenez
Set in the seething, violent atmosphere of Guatemala City, this project tells the story of an evangelist pastor who is invited to conduct a service at the local prison. There he meets a young fisherman accused of raping and murdering a 13-year-old girl. The pastor believes in the fisherman's innocence and secures his release, before the fisherman moves into the pastor's own home. But when his own daughter goes missing, the pastor's faith is tested.
"I live in Guatemala and the violence in the city is awful. My dad and wife have both had guns held to their heads," says Crisostomo, of what prompted him to make this project. "The Christian evangelist part came from a discussion I had with a colleague at my production company (Ceibita Films) who said he found God at church. A lot of people in the country are doing the same, using God as a support mechanism to cope with the violence around them. Unfortunately evangelist preachers are making money from this."
The story is an original idea devised by Crisostomo, who wrote a treatment and then passed it on to Ray Figueroa to write the script. "I want to go to Locarno with the script ready, or at least a first draft," the director says.
Budgeted at around $470,000, Ceibita Films has raised around 20% of the money from the Cinergia development fund, which supplies money to projects from Central America and the Caribbean and is managed by Fundacine, a private non-profit organisation based in Costa Rica. Ceibita has also put in some of its own money. Production outfit Casa Comal is co-producing and has also put in money. "It would be good to get another co-production partner involved to provide the rest of the financing," says Crisostomo.
Shooting is due to take place in the middle of next year in Guatemala City and in Rio Dulce on Guatemala's east coast.
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Heart of stone (Peru)
Dir/scr/prod: Miguel Barreda Delgado
Set in the mines of Araquipa in south-west Peru, Heart Of Stone (Corazon De Piedra) follows the travails of 17-year-old Juan who witnesses his father's death. Soon after the funeral he discovers his uncle is having an affair with his mother and is moving into the family home.
The boy's behaviour changes dramatically as he leaves school and home, self harms and moves to the mines where the ghost of his father reveals his uncle had a hand in his death. Perturbed by his behaviour, Juan's mother puts him in a psychiatric hospital, but this does not stop him plotting revenge on his uncle.
"It is a story inspired by Hamlet, but in a Peruvian context," says Delgado. "One of the main problems of Peruvian society is impunity. Many people who are guilty of common and political offences are not convicted because the judges themselves are involved in crimes. Therefore, innocent victims feel they have to take the law into their own hands."
Delgado has already made several documentaries about Araquipa, a region renowned for its white volcanic rock, and plans to shoot Heart Of Stone on location in mid-2009, casting real-life local miners.
Having written the first draft of the script, Delgado is keen to find funding at Locarno. "My production company (Via Expresa) is supplying some of the money, but we need more for the development, production and distribution of the film." He estimates the total budget to be $390,000.
Delgado is looking for a co-production partner, preferably from Europe, having lived in Germany for 20 years and worked with German broadcaster ZDF on his first film Panamericana (Y Si Te Vi No Me Acuerdo) in 1999.
Crab trap (Colombia)
Dir/co-scr: Oscar Ruiz Navia
Prod: Diego Ramirez
This project is the story of a man who arrives at a small fishing village in Colombia where a dispute is taking place between the Afro-Caribbean locals and a white landowner trying to set up a resort.
"The film is fiction, but the situation is very real," says the project's writer-director Oscar Ruiz Navia. "We will be shooting in La Barra (for six weeks in the second half of this year) where this is happening right now."
Navia says the idea for the script came from seeing the construction of resorts up and down the Colombian coast for the past 10 years.
"We have written the script, but plan to keep it low budget and small," says producer Diego Ramirez. "We don't want to turn up with 1,000 people, lights and cameras and ruin their landscape even more."
Budgeted at $800,000, Ramirez's Antorcha Films has secured $250,000 from private investors and state Colombian broadcaster Canal Institucional, the first time the latter has invested in a film.
A further boost to the project has arrived in the guise of France's Arizona Films, which has come on board as a co-production partner. Ramirez is also hoping to secure a sales agent at Locarno. "We would like to get Celluloid Dreams involved as they handled our other film, Dog Eat Dog, which was at Sundance this year," he says.
Cracks 1 - the kid who lies (Venezuela)
Dir/scr: Marite Ugas
Prod: Mariana Rondon
The backdrop to this drama is a real-life disaster that took place nine years ago in a town on the coast of Venezuela.
"A mudslide enveloped an important oil port and home to the international airport, just 20 minutes from Caracas," explains director Marite Ugas. "The town was destroyed, its inhabitants isolated and disoriented, fighting among themselves for survival and the most basic needs."
Ugas' script takes its cue from this event, following a young boy as he leaves the decimated town to search for his mother. He is forced to beg for food and accommodation along the coast, regaling those he meets with the story of the terrible destruction.
Ugas plans to start shooting at the beginning of January for two months. Part of the film has already been made, as the director shot a documentary about the feast of San Juan on the coast of Venezuela which will be edited into the final feature.
Working alongside producer Mariana Rondon, through their production company Sudaca Films, they have already secured about $500,000 in investment, including funds from the Institute of Cinema in Venezuela and Ibermedia. "We need another $250,000-$300,000 towards post-production," says Ugas.
El Verano De Los Peces Voladores (Chile)
Dir/co-scr: Marcela Said
Prod: Bruno Bettati
Marcela Said says her project is a portrait of a bourgeois family and their eccentric lifestyle in southern Chile, which includes a plan by the head of the family to kill the fish in his pond with a bomb.
But the film will be more than a family farce, Said says. She wants to highlight the ever-expanding gulf between the starving Mapucha peasants and the wealthy elite living in the same region.
"When I was travelling in the south, I stayed with a wealthy family who told me all about their crazy experiences and it just seemed so unrealistic. I couldn't believe how oblivious they were to what was going on around them. It inspired me to write a script," explains Said.
Having written the first version, she is now working with co-writer Julio Rojas on a second version. "We want to shoot on location in a place called Freire in November or December next year to give us enough time to have a solid script ready," she says.
She is working with producer Bruno Bettati of Jirafa Films on the production.
The company has already secured $40,000 in development funds from the Chilean government, and is looking for further investment at Locarno, as well as a co-production partner.
"We have already had interest from producers in Spain, Argentina and France," says Said.
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The Last cristeros (Mexico)
Dir: Matias Meyer
Prod: Paola Herrera
Director Matias Meyer is set to continue what his father started 40 years ago as a doctorate thesis - telling the story of the Christian peasants ('cristeros') who fought against the anti-religious Mexican government in the 1920s and 1930s.
"It was a time of revolution and communism," says Meyer of the period. "(The then) president Cayas was concerned religious figures had too much power so took away many of their privileges, including their land and wealth, resulting in the closure of several churches. Consequently, there was an uprising among the deeply religious peasants.
Based on the novel Rescoldo, The Last Cristeros by Antonio Estrada, Meyer's project will focus on a cristero colonel and his men who hide in the mountains in the north of the country while being pursued by the army. Unarmed and starving, their resistance ends in tragedy.
"My film will be less of an epic and more of an emotional, intimate personal story," says Meyer. "My father spoke with Mexican historians and to the cristeros themselves, but struggled to find much information because the government and religious archives were closed to the public. They tried to censor the issue, and it remains a taboo subject to this day."
Meyer has already written a first draft of the script with Israel Cardenas Ramirez (who also wrote the script for the award-winning film Cochochi and Open Doors project Jean Gentil). Shooting is set to begin in August next year in Durango State, where the towns and landscapes have hardly changed since the events took place. Meyer plans to enlist locals to play their forefathers.
"In terms of funding, we have already received $14,000 from the Hubert Bals Fund and $100,000 confirmed in private capital," says producer Paola Herrera of Una Comunion.
"It's important the film is not only enjoyed by a local audience but by a wider audience who can learn about the story of the cristeros," says Meyer. "Picking up a European partner would certainly help us with that goal."
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Jean Gentil (Dominican Republic-Mexico)
Dirs/scrs: Israel Cardenas Ramirez, Laura Amelia Guzman
Prod: Pablo Cruz
A Haitian professor struggles to find a decent job in the rapidly modernising city of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. Although a job on a building site is a possibility, he considers it beneath his intellect, and instead wanders the streets. But soon he becomes bewildered and feels no sense of belonging. Questioning his faith in God, he retreats to the coast to find himself.
Jean Gentil is backed by Canana Films, the Mexican company set up by actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna with producer Pablo Cruz to support Latin American films with an international perspective.
"This is the third film we are working on with Israel and Laura," Cruz explains. "We did Cochochi two years ago, which won the Discovery award at Toronto. We were just starting out as a company and thought that was the perfect project to start with. Then we did a small film, Carmita, and now this one. (Israel and Laura) are exciting film-makers with a particular voice."
Jean Gentil is a co-production with Aurora Films in the Dominican Republic, which is run by Peyi Guzman, a respected film-maker who has worked on projects including Andy Garcia's Lost City.
The script has already been written by Ramirez, and Canana has put together about $170,000 of the total $395,000 budget from Aurora, Rotterdam's Hubert Bals Fund and its own funds.
"We want to shoot it this year in the Dominican Republic," says Cruz. "Most of the money will go towards the post-production of the film because we tend to do very quick and organic shoots."
Cruz say he is a keen to find a further production partner "who understands what we are trying to do with the film".
By The Fire (Chile)
Dir/scr: Alejandro Fernandez
Prod: Eduardo Villalobos Pino
This romantic drama from New York-based director Alejandro Fernandez spans four seasons as a peasant tries desperately to please his terminally ill wife. "He decides to give her one present for each season," says producer Eduardo Villalobos Pino. "In the summer he gives her a TV so she can watch a telenovela, which she's only ever heard about. The second present in autumn is a cat to keep her company. The third is a night of passion, and finally he takes her to the mountains so she can see snow for the first time."
Fernandez has completed a first draft of the script and Pino has raised $70,000 from the government and through an award at the Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival. Fernandez and Pino hope to shoot the film in southern Chile from December through their production company El Remanso Cine. The two have previously worked together on the shorts Desde Lejos and Lo Que Trae La Lluvia, which have screened at several international festivals. Their first feature, Huacho, is in post-production.
"Having successfully worked with Pandora in Germany on Huacho, we will be looking for a European partner for By The Fire," says Pino. "We would like them to provide financial support, but also work as a co-producer. Maybe even get some European technicians involved."
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The life of fish (Chile)
Dir: Matias Bize
Scr: Julio Rojas
Prod: Adrian Solar
Following the success of multi-award winning drama In The Bed (En La Cama), director Matias Bize, producer Adrian Solar and writer Julio Rojas are reuniting for a tale of a Chilean journalist working in Germany who decides to return to his home country and meet with old friends and lovers after a 12-year absence.
"The film takes place over one night as he attends a party of his old friends," explains Bize. "He travels from one room to the next, re-acquainting himself with people he hasn't seen since he was 21, but soon realises their lives are now very different."
Based on an original idea from Rojas, the team is working on the script, which they are presenting at Open Doors. "We have the first draft ready and are now looking for financing," says Bize.
"We will be hoping to get funds from national sources, such as local subsidies and private investors, which should cover about 45% of the budget," adds Solar of Ceneca Productions. "And the rest we hope to make from European sources. We are certainly considering working with a Spanish or German production company, but we plan to use Chilean technicians, actors and post-production facilities."
Bize is confident Locarno is the right place for their project. "We took In the Bed to the festival and had great success finding money."
Shooting is due to begin early next year.
The Man Of The Crowd (Brazil)
Dirs: Marcelo Gomes, Cao Guimaraes
The Man Of The Crowd is the final part in Cao Guimaraes' Trials of Solitude trilogy, following The Soul Of The Bone about a hermit, and Drifter, a drama about people who spend their lives walking along the highways of Brazil.
Based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, The Man Of The Crowd tells the tale of a man who cannot be alone (the original story is set in 19th century London) and decides to follow people on the streets of Sao Paulo. The other character in the film is a woman with similar feelings, who decides to connect to others through computers and telephones.
"They are two different kinds of loneliness. The guy finds it difficult to interact with the crowd, but he needs to be close to them, and the woman finds it hard to interact with the real world," explains Guimaraes, the film's co-director.
Guimaraes is working on the script with the hugely popular Brazilian director Marcelo Gomes, whose debut feature Cinema, Aspirin And Vultures won more than 50 international awards in 2005.
"I asked Marcelo to help me because he has not only directed, but also written several scripts (including for A Casa De Alice and Happy Desert, both at Berlin last year). For me it is very difficult to write scripts because I'm used to making documentaries," says Guimaraes.
However, he points out there is little difference between fiction and documentary in his films. "After a screening of my documentary Drifter, the audience kept asking me, 'Where did you find these strange characters''"
A visual artist by trade, Guimaraes is always keen to show his films at galleries and museums, as well as cinemas and festivals - Drifter was shown at the Sao Paulo Biennale gallery as well as in the Orizzonti section at Venice. At Locarno, he is hoping to attract a co-producer for The Man Of The Crowd, and encourage feedback on the script.
Working with REC Produtores and Cinco Em Ponto, the film's Brazilian co-producers, Guimaraes has already received some script-development finance from the Brazilian government.
"It provides an aid which is given to producers in Brazil for films with commercial potential," explains Guimaraes.
"Marcelo's production company received this money for its new projects, and chose to use some of that money ($60,000) to go towards the script for The Man In The Crowd."
So much water (Uruguay)
Dirs/scrs: Ana Guevara, Leticia Jorge
Prod: Agustina Chiarino
Following the international festival success of 25 Watts, which took one of the top awards at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2001, and Whisky, which won the Fipresci prize at Cannes in 2004, dynamic Uruguayan production company Control Z is putting its weight behind this family drama from rising directors Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge.
The focus of the film is a teenage girl and her younger brother, whose father takes them to a thermal spa town for a bonding holiday following his divorce from their mother. When they arrive it is pouring with rain, the spa is closed and they have to share one room in a cabin. The daughter is embarrassed by her father, especially in public, and turns her attention instead to a slightly older local girl with whom she can be more grown up. But events do not turn out as planned.
Guevara and Jorge wrote the script together after finding out they had both visited the same spa as teenagers. "The project has been around for about a year and a half," explains producer Agustina Chiarino, who joined Control Z last year. "The last version of the script was done back in December."
Control Z has secured $12,000 in development funds from Rotterdam's Hubert Bals Fund, and a further $50,000-$60,000 from private investors. It is also investing some of its own money. "In total we have about $120,000, but we need about $450,000," says Chiarino. "We are looking to obtain more funds at Open Doors, as well as other co-production forums."
Control Z is an experienced international co-producer, having worked with Spain's Wanda Film and Germany's Bavaria Film.
As well as looking for a partner for So Much Water in Locarno, it is also hoping to secure a worldwide sales agent. Shooting is set to take place in Salto, Uruguay in September next year.