Three first features from Spain’s burgeoning next generation of female filmmakers, led by Cannes Critics’ Week winner Laura Ferrès, is one highlight at this year’s Málaga Work in Progress, an Málaga Festival industry centerpiece where productions such as “The Platform” first saw the light of day.
Playing in Malaga WIP, “The Platform” was acquired by Latido Film which sold the title to Netflix at Toronto. It has gone on to rank as the third most-watched non-English movie ever on Netflix.
At least three titles – Spanish road movie “Devil Dog Road,” horror pic “The Hidden City,” the neo-noir “Foremost by Night” – boast genre gristle. Some titles turn on gender oppression (“As Neves”), female self-discovery (“Mara’s Vacation”) or sexual diversity (“I Trust You”). Many, especially from Spain, have social-issue overtones.
Production companies range from established indie forces – Madrid’s Aquí y Allí, Buenos Aires’ Magma Cine, Portugal’s Ukbar Filmes – to on-the-rise outfits, such as Colombia’s Los Niños Films and Barcelona’s Fasten Films.
Málaga WIP España’s eight titles form part of Málaga’s Spanish Screenings Content, a big multi-initiative international market platform for the country’s movies and producers, which is part in turn of the Spanish government’s huge Spain AV Hub program.
Here’s the inside track on the titles announced:
MALAGA WIP ESPAÑA
“As Neves,” (Sonia Méndez, Spain)
From Aquí y Allí, behind San Sebastian top winner “Magical Girl” and “Life and Nothing More,” a 2018 Independent Spirits laureate, Galician Méndez’s feature debut turns on a sex tape incident in a snowbound village. Elamedia distributes in Spain. Cósmica Producións also produces.
“The Daughter of the Volcano,” (Jenifer de la Rosa, Spain, Mexico)
Separated from her biological family when one week old in the 1985 eruption of Colombia’s Nevado del Ruiz, director De la Rosa was adopted in Spain. The film is “a journey of discovery of what it means to be a daughter, sister, family,” she says. Solita Films and Auna Producciones, both behind 2023 Sundance entry “The Fishbowl,” produce with Samuel Kishi’s Guadalajara-based Cebolla Films (“Los Lobos”).
“Devil Dog Road,” (Guillermo Polo, Spain)
Billed as a darkly comedic road movie, traveling from Asturias to Benidorm, the journey allows a frustrated writer a chance to find his voice. The feature debut of Polo, a cinematographer on SXSW premiere “The Mystery of the Pink Flamingo,” produced by Los Hermanos Polo Films, Batiak Films, Japonica Films and Volcano Films.
“Foremost by Night,” (Víctor Iriarte, Spain, Portugal, France)
A neo-noir drama, with two women in their fifties meeting on the banks of the Duero River, and three deaths, two heists and a getaway. A strong cast – Lola Dueñas, Ana Torrent – and screenplay by Isa Campo, Iriarte and Andrea Queralt. Produced by Reescritura AIE, Ukbar Films, 4A4 Productions.
“Mara’s Vacation,” (Elena Escura, Spain)
Another first feature, from the Valencia region’s Escura, described as a journey of self-discovery, as Mara goes to stay with her friend Vera, who lives on Valencia’s striking coastal Sierra d’Irte. When Vera leaves, Mara takes her place. From Valencia’s Tarannà Films, headed by Giovanna Rives and Deborah Micheletti.
“La nit no fa vigília,” (Clara Serrano, Gerard Simó, Spain)
A graduate feature from six students of Barcelona’s prestigious Pompeu Fabra U., picturing the relationship between Unai (18) and his now frail grandmother, Nati, (83) who has bought him up and is now offered a chance of a free room at a care home. A fiction feature playing off Pompeu Fabra’s decade-old tradition of grounded creative documentaries, produced by Catalonia’s Mireia Graell at Ringo Media, a producer on Berlinale Panorama player “Matria.”
“The Permanent Picture,” (Laura Ferrés, Spain, France)
One of the most awaited titles in the section, the feature debut of Laura Ferrés whose short “The Disinherited” won Cannes 2017 Critics’ Week. A “depressing comedy,” claims Ferrés, co-written by Carlos Vermut (“Magical Girl”), “Picture” turns on a casting director looking for a “normal” person for a political campaign. Nadine Rothschild’s Volta produces with Fasten Films, also based in Barcelona, and France’s Le Bureau.
“The Residents,” (Jo Sol, Spain)
The latest from Barcelona’s Jo Sol, who burst onto the scene with social issue art films “El taxista ful” (2005) and “Fake Orgasm” (2010). Shaktimetta Produccions, Sol’s production label, produces.
MÁLAGA WIP IBEROAMÉRICA
“Carropasajero,” (Juan Pablo Polanco, César Alejandro Jaimes, Colombia, Germany)
From Colombia’s Los Niños Films in co-production with Germany’s Pong Berlin, “Carropasajero” narrates an examination of life on the border between Colombia and Venezuela. One of the highlights of 2021’s Sanfic Industria’s Lab Documental, the project was previously selected in 2020 at Málaga’s Fund & Co-Production event. Los Niños’ 2019 feature debut “Lapu” world premiered at Sundance and screened at Berlinale’s Forum.
“Hidden City,” (“Ciudad Oculta,” Francisco Bouzas, Argentina)
Beneath Ciudad Oculta, the oldest villa in Buenos Aires, there is another city where the dead live. After the death of young soccer player Martino, his friend César suffers recurring dreams. He must find a way to cross the city of the dead and close issues from the past that still bind him to Martino. An Oculta Cine and Pensar Con Las Manos co-production, whose credits take in Francisco Márquez’s Berlinale 2020 Panorama player “A Common Crime.”
“En vos confío,” (“I Trust You,” Agustín Toscano, Argentina)
A documentary produced by Oriana Castro at Argentine outfit Magma Cine which won a Special Mention at Buenos Aires Fidba festival. Toscano – whose “El Dueño” took a special mention at Cannes’ 2013 Critics’ Week – follows the story of two women who met in a convent and abandoned their habits to live their love secretly.
“Estados Generales,” (Mauricio Freyre, Perú-Spain)
Teaming Spanish outfit Tasio with Peru’s Walden Films and Estudio Rien, “Estados Generales” explores the journey of a seed that departs from the Botanical Garden in Madrid ending up in a Afro-Peruvian village where it was collected in a colonial expedition around 1800.
“Idade da Pedra,” (“Stone Age,” Renan Rovida, Brazil-Spain)
A production by Maria Tereza Urias, Roberto Tibiriçá and Ana Rabelo for Desalambrar Filmes, Plateau Produções and Tela Suja Filmes. “Stone Age” has just won the Málaga Festival Prize at Brazil’s CineMundi Connection during the 26th Tiradentes Film Festival.
“Una luz negra,” (“A Dark Light,” Alberto Hayden Hahn, Chile)
Chilean writer-director Hayden’s feature debut was the biggest winner at Sanfic Industria’s 2022 Work in Progress. Produced by Brisa, the film is inspired by the musings of South Korean-born philosopher Byung-Chul Han and his French counterpart Deleuze that question whether people continue to exist past their physical selves through people’s memories.
“Punku” (Juan Daniel Fernández Molero, Perú)
Filmed in Spanish, Quechua and Matsigenka, “Punku” is produced by Peruvian company Tiempo Libre and won a WIP Prize at the 37h Mar del Plata 37 Festival. It tells the story of Iván, a 15-year-old boy who had been presumed dead after getting lost mysteriously a couple of years ago. Now he’s back after having been found in the Amazonian jungle by Matsigenka girl Meshia.
“The Saint,” (“El Santo,” Juan Agustín Carbonere, Argentina)
The story of Rubén, a healer of humble origins using outlandish and disturbing techniques. With the appearance of Benjamin, his luck will change, with his generating a cult around him. But that fame will end up being his own hell. Executive produced by Eva Padro at Buenos Aires-based Hiperión.