Bendita swoops on Argentine Debut ‘Almamula,’ ahead of the Berlinale

Tenerife-based Bendita Films has pounced on international rights to “Almamula,” a buzzy debut, mixing folklore, sexuality and fantasy. From helmer Juan Sebastián Torales, the film will have its world premiere as part of the Generation 14plus’ strand at this month’s Berlinale. The film is nominated for the GWFF Best First Feature Award 2023 and has seen wins already with the Ciné+ Award for distribution at Ventana Sur 2022 and the Eurimages Development Co-production Award at the San Sebastian Co-Production Forum in 2019.

“We have been following this project since 2019, when we had the opportunity to attend Juan Sebastián Torales impressive pitch at the san Sebastian Co-Production Forum,” says Luis Renart, CEO of Bendita Film Sales. 

He added: “We were immediately captivated by the director’s singular vision and that delicate combination of coming-of-age sexuality and fantasy, rooted in the legends and folklore of the Argentine countryside. Now, we are excited to be able to present this film to the international audience in Berlin. Juan Sebastián is an auteur with a unique voice, and we are confident that his first feature will be a dazzling surprise for everyone.”

Juan Sebastián Torales
Credit: François Silvestre de Sacy

“Almamula,” begins in Santiago del Estero, in Argentina’s deep North-West, where 12-year-old Nino is assaulted for being homosexual. In an effort to protect the boy, his parents move the family to a small rural village. Overwhelmed by guilt and shame and facing the scorn of a conservative community, he will do everything he can think of to attract the Almamula: a legendary creature, known in myth in North Western Argentina. It’s a creature which captures those who commit an impure sexual act. 

On the genesis of the project Juan Sebastian Torales says, “When I wrote the script I wanted to reinterpret this legend, dive into the background of it and understand why it was created. Like with many things invented by the Catholic church, the Almamula was created to erase everything they considered immoral or a menace. In the end, ‘Almamula’ doesn’t tell the story of the monster that lives in the forest, but the monster that we, as human beings, created around sexuality, and how all that is different sometimes scares us.”

“Almamula,” is produced by Pilar Peredo and Edgard Tenembaum for France’s Tu Vas Voir, a producer on Laura Mora’s “The Kings of the World,” Walter Salles’ “The Motorbike Diaries” and Jayro Bustamante’s “Ixcanul.” 

It is made in co-production with Lorena Quevedo for Argentina’s Twins Latin Films (“Venezia”) and Augusto Pelliccia for Augustus Color (Italy). Caroline de Jenlis and Bernard de la Villardière (Palermo Production) act as associate producers.

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