The participants at this year’s Open Doors Producers’ Lab have the opportunity to bolster their careers and build international connections.

Locarno producers

Source: Locarno

Locarno Open Doors Producers Lab 2023

The participants in this year’s Open Doors Producers’ Lab hail from Cuba, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Paraguay and Peru.

For those taking part, the Producers’ Lab offers a personalised programme focused on the role of the creative producer, honing the tools needed to develop projects and to work with international film professionals while improving their entrepreneurial skills. The training programme combines group discussions, screenings, individual consultancy meetings and networking opportunities.

It is the second year Open Doors is focused on underrepresented countries across Latin America and the Caribbean. Having taken place online in July, the programme continues onsite during Locarno Pro Days (August 3-8).

“They all have potential to become great creative producers,” says Open Doors head Zsuzsi Bankuti of this year’s participants, noting they come armed with more production experience than last year’s roll call. Among the 2023 cohort are Joaquin Ruano (Guatemala), executive producer of Cesar Diaz’s 2019 Cannes Camera d’Or winner Our Mothers, and Ana Isabel Martins Palacios (Honduras), producer of Mario Ramos’s La Condesa.

Meanwhile, producers Daniela Muñoz (Cuba) and Samuel Suff­ren (Haiti) return to Open Doors for the Producers’ Lab, having participated in Open Doors Screenings last year with shorts Gloom (Umbra) and Agwe respectively.

Suffren brings Je M’Appelle Nina Shakira, an adaptation of Haitian author Makenzy Orcel’s Les Immortelles. “In Haiti there are no public grants, the films are mostly self-

produced,” Suffren says. “You can imagine how difficult it is to create a film in Haiti. There are a few international funds but access is competitive and funding is not without consequences to the subject of a film.”

Palacios has been a key player in building a framework for the Honduran film industry. “After great efforts to make it possible to make films in Honduras, taking these first steps to Open Doors internationally, not only for my projects but for the entire sector, is a great opportunity.” Palacios brings Cae El Sol by director Aeden O’Connor Agurcia; the pair presented 90 Minutes during Open Doors Screenings last year. “We are building [Cae El Sol as] a co-production with Martha Orozco [Mexico] and Joaquin Ruano [Guatemala], who is also participating in the Producers’ Lab, and Elisa Fernanda Pirir [Norway], who is of Guatemalan origin.”

The projects with which Cuba-born Muñoz is involved as a filmmaker and producer have a Cuban connection. “Whether they are directly filmed there or deal with themes related to the diaspora, they strive to confront the demons that reside within us,” Muñoz says. “This opportunity is focused not only on advancing my project, La Estrella directed by Alejandro Alonso, but also on representing a group of filmmakers, a collective, a generation, and even a way of making films — a way of contemplating our country.”

Guatemala’s Ruano, whose credits include Andres Rodriguez’s Roza, lands with a brace of projects including Sebastian Lojo’s script Trucha Panza Arriba. It tells the tale of Koki, whose arrival at a remote Guatemalan trout farm turns the lives of its inhabitants upside down.

Other Producers’ Lab participants include Ecuador’s Veronica Haro and her Abril Film. Haro’s directorial debut Cuando Ellos Se Fueron premiered at Switzerland’s Visions du Réel in 2019, and she visits Open Doors as a producer with Maneki Neko, an Ecuadorian film in development and produced by Clap Productions and Abril Films. It explores love and female connections and is set to be shot in the Ecuadorian Andes.

Also attending is Peru’s Carlos Ormeño Palma and his La Fiebre Films. He is developing, and aims to direct, Peruvian feature The Scent Of Walls (El Olor De Las Paredes), which celebrates the elderly LGBTQ+ community.

Dominican Republic creative producer Gregorio Rodriguez and his Casa Latina Films arrives with documentary La Lengua Del Agua. The Dominican Republic-Venezuela-France co-production follows the last speaker of his Indigenous language who fled the community only to be drawn back years later after dreaming his grandmother urged him to return. Jeissy Trompiz is lined up to direct.

Rounding out the eight is Ivana Urizar and her Paraguay-based Cine Mio with Bajo Las Banderas, El Sol, a documentary in development compiled from 80 hours of material found in different parts of the world, by director Juanjo Pereira.