According to festival director José Luis Rebordinos, this year’s San Sebastian International Film Festival has the most Latin American films in its official selection and in its markets.
The line-up includes three titles in the official selection: two by Argentine directors – that of Manuel Abramovich Pornomelancholia and Diego Lerman The substitute – and wonderment by Chilean director Sebastian Lelio.
“It’s a very good time for Latin American cinema both for the quantity and for the high quality of the proposals,” says Rebordinos.
Argentina in the spotlight
Among the strong results for Argentine films, Nicolás Batlle, president of the country’s national film body, INCAA, said his organization had “doubled down” on its support for filmmakers during the pandemic – a move he said pays off today.
“We have proven that in times like these, the role of the state is crucial in supporting our cultural industries.”
Batlle points to the country’s strong film tradition which he says is now adapting to the demands of streaming platforms and new trends in the global market. There are, he says, “great co-production opportunities, especially with other Latin American countries.
In addition to two titles in competition, Argentina has four titles in the Zabaltegi section. The country also has seven projects in the Coproduction Forum.
“We are proud of the many emerging female directors that Argentina produces,” says Batlle. He quotes Clarisa Navas, director of the 2020 hit one in a thousand and Agustina Sanmartin, director of 2021 To kill the beast. The two filmmakers present their new projects on the festival marketplace.
New Chilean Models
The president of the Chilean Association of Film and Television Producers, Gabriela Sandoval, agrees that now is a great time for local talent and production. “[There are more] films that both address themes that represent us as a region and consider a global audience.
New production models – involving partnerships between countries and platforms, and public and private funds – are also consolidating in the region, he says.
In addition to Lelio wonderment (a UK-Ireland co-production for Netflix) Chilean talent is represented by Niles Atallah – who won a Special Jury Prize at Rotterdam for King in 2017. Atallah will present The fire doll at the market. A second project on the market is that of María Paz González Die standinga bittersweet drama produced by Chilean producer Giancarlo Nassi of Quijote Films.
Horizontes Latinos includes Manuela Martelli 1976 and Patricio Guzman Mi País Imaginario. Diego Cespedes Las Criaturas Que Se Derriten Bajo El Sol is in Zabaltegi.
“Our expectations are really high. We’ve garnered 70 awards so far this year and we’ve seen a greater national presence not only in our regular markets, but also in others, such as across Asia,” says Sandoval. “The upcoming Busan festival, for example, will feature a strong Chilean presence.”
Emerging Mexican Producers
Mexico also submitted a greater number of projects under industrial programs than in previous years. Once almost entirely dependent on public funds, many young Mexican production companies are working on low-budget projects for which they seek international co-production partners. “I have a feeling that something interesting could sprout,” says Javier Martín, festival delegate for Latin America, from the Mexican contingent.
There are two Mexican films at Horizontes Latinos and two projects at the Forum, while the WIP section presents a co-production with the UK (Laura Plancarte’s mexican dream) and another with Brazil (Guto Parente’s A strange path).
From Costa Rica to Nicaragua
In particular, smaller Latin American countries that are often less represented at international events are participating in this year’s festival. Nicaragua, for example, has Laura Baumeister competing in New Directors with rage girl.
Costa Rica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic come with two titles in different sections.
Colombia also participate in the main competition with The Kings of the world, Laura Mora’s long-awaited sophomore effort whose kill jesus won a special mention in New Directors in 2017.