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Benjamin Naishtat, Celina Murga Set for San Sebastian’s Co-Production Forum

Variety — John Hopewell

Three of Argentina’s foremost auteurs – “Rojo’s” Benjamin Naishtat, “The Third Side of the River’s” Celina Murga, and “Two Shots Fired’s” Martin Rejtman – will present new movie projects at a 9th Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum, the industry centerpiece at this year’s San Sebastian Film Festival.

They will be joined by up-and-coming directors such as “The Heiresses’” Marcelo Martinessi,  “The Sharks’” Lucia Garibaldi and “The Future Perfect’s” Nele Wohlatz in a lineup that is long on strong and fairly established Argentine talent, has a clutch of new Colombian directors, and presses the urgent social-issue concerns that have come to characterize Latin American cinema.

Catapulted to fame when Martin Scorsese executive produced “The Third Side of the River,” Murga will present “The Smell of Freshly Cut Grass,” a high-concept gender drama starring “Paulina’s” Dolores Fonzi and co-written with partner and fellow film director Juan Villegas (“Las Vegas”).

Produced by Uruguay’s Montelona and Cimarrón, Garibaldi’s “The Last Queen,” her follow-up to Sundance laureate “The Sharks,” weighs in as near-future geo-political allegory. It turns on Elisa, the last young woman in a city whose youth, when they come of age, are forced to migrate to the North, a kind of promised land where “history is being made.” Elisa, however, refrains.

“Pobres Pibes” represents the fourth feature from Naishtat whose “Rojo,” a portrait of corruption and welling violence in pre-Junta Argentina, played the Toronto Platform and San Sebastian competition, loading up at the Spanish festival on prizes – director, actor (Dario Grandinetti) and cinematography – and dazzling some critics.

“¿Quién mató a Narciso?” bids fair to become the second feature from 2018 triple Berlinale winner Marcelo Martinessi, director of “The Heiresses,” which swept actress (Ana Brun), the then-called Alfred Bauer Prize for innovation and a Fipesci nod.

The founding father of the New Argentine Cinema, whose 1992 debut “Rapado” was selected by Lucrecia Martel to screen at Locarno this year, Rejtman’s “El Repartidor está el camino” sums up in its title the bathetic humor distinguishing a career which has inspired a whole new generation of Argentine filmmakers.

Venezuela’s Jorge Thielen Armand will present “La Cercania,” the story of a woman’s flight from Venezuela to France and yearning to return. It marks the third feature from Thielen Armand, who impressed with his second, “La Fortaleza,” which played in this year’s Rotterdam Competition.

Set up at Argentina’s Murillo Cine, “American Night” is directed by Nele Wohlatz, who won best first feature at the Locarno Festival for “The Future Perfect,” which Variety welcomed as a “charming, humorous debut.” “American Night” turns on the sometimes fractious dynamics between movie animal actors and their wranglers.

Among a trio of titles from young Colombian directors,  neo-noir documentary “Anhell69” is Colombian Theo Montoya’s first feature, after his short film “Son of Sodom” was chosen for the Cannes 2020 Official Selection. A portrait of Colombian youth, grappling with suicide, drug overdoses and a “no future” mindset, “Anhell69 ” won this year’s Tribeca All Access fund and co-production from IBF Europe.

Camila Beltrán will pitch her feature debut, coming-of-age “The Day of My Beast,” supported by Proimágenes Colombia, after her short film “Pacífico oscuro” was selected by Locarno 2020. Set in Bogotá in 1996, it turns on Milagros, a 13-year-old girl who hears rumors that the Antichrist will arrive on earth during a solar eclipse.

Produced by director Franco Lolli (“Litigante,” “Gente de bien”), a third Colombian project, “El otro hijo,” marks the feature debut by Juan Sebastián Quebrada, a Medellín-born director. His first short film, “La Casa del árbol,” co-produced by Colombia’s Evidencia and Why Not Productions in France, initiated in Toronto 2017 a fruitful international festival career.

Of other films, Hungary’s Gyorgy Palfi, director of the memorably grotesque “Taxidermia,” and Karlovy Vary best director winner “Free Fall,” will introduce “Hen.”

Recipient of the Arte Kino International Prize at Rotterdam’s Cinemart project market last year, Argentine Mateo Bendesky’s “The Fever” explores the warped psychological consequences of exorcism. Costa Rica’s Alexandra Latishev will introduce the domestic violence themed “Delirio.”

9th Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum

“American Night,” (Nele Wohlatz, Argentina)

“The Anatomy of a Horse,” (Daniel Vidal Toché, Spain, Peru, Colombia)

“Anhell69,” (Theo Montoya, Colombia, Argentina, Romania)

“Ángeles,” (Paula Markovitch, Mexico, Argentina, France)

“Nearness,” (Jorge Thielen Armand, France, Venezuela)

“Delirium,” Alexandra Latishev, Costa Rica, Chile)

“The Day of my Beast,” (Camila Beltrán), Colombia, France)

“Eternal Adolescent,” (Eduardo Esquivel, Mexico)

“The Fever,” (Mateo Bendesky, Argentina, Brazil, France)

“Hen,” (György Pálfi, Hungary, Mexico)

“The Last Queen,” (Lucía Garibaldi, Uruguay, Argentina)

“Memories of a Burning Body,” (Antonella Sudasassi, Costa Rica, Spain)

“Who Killed Narciso?,” (Marcelo Martinessi, Paraguay)

“The Other Son,” (Juan Sebastián Quebrada, Colombia, France)

“Pobres Pibes,” (Benjamín Naishtat, Argentina)

“Riders,” (Martín Rejtman, Argentina, Portugal)

“The Smell of Freshly Cut Grass” (Celina Murga, Argentina, Germany)

“Three,” (Diego Schipani, Argentina)

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