I have spent two days at a great new film residency program in Mexico. Tepoztlan is a village an hour out of Mexico City and home to many filmmakers and
artists. Pueblo Magico offers a three week workshop for first and second time filmmakers. It was founded by Flavio Florencio whose own first
feature, the award winning transgender doc “Made in Bangkok” will screen at the Palm Springs Film Festival this coming January.
“I launched this residency because I realized there was a need for such a space for budding filmmakers where they can be free of distractions and
pressure,” said its founder, Flavio Florencio. Florencio also founded the Human Rights Film Festival and the African Film Festivals, Africalal in Mexico.
Within 48 hours after opening the first call for entries for the three week workshop (October 17 to November 5), 120 projects from a dozen countries were
received and reviewed by the selection committee that included Florencio, Guanajauto Festival Programming Director Nina
Rodriguez and cinematographer Maria Secco. “The projects were so interesting that we have
accepted more than the requisite eight this year,” said Florencio.
Projects of the 10 residents included eight fiction features and two docs, the bulk of them debuts. Five projects were from Mexico:
The two favorites (voting was by mentors who also attended the event) include the debut film project of Florian Seufert (Germany), the fiction feature,
“Dragonflies Don’t Die”. Florian gathered his family to celebrate his parents 30th anniversary and his own 28th birthday on the same day. The
footage already shot shows an atmospheric and mysterious world set within the ordinary confines of the large family celebration.
The “runner up” is the second fiction feature of Mauricio Lopez Fernandez (Chile), “La Jauria” in which a pack of dogs kill a herd of cows
in a remote Andean hamlet, forcing village elders to make a sacrifice for the future of their youth. The film is still in early development. Mauricio’s short film “La Santa” (2012) premiered at Berlinale Shorts and was a finalist for the Teddy Award. His first feature film, “The Guest” (“La Visita”) won Best Picture and Best Actress at the Rencontres du cinema Sud-American de Marseilles et Region 2015 and was nominated Best Latin American Film at San Sebastian Film Festival 2015..
The winner receives post-production services, prestige, honor and glory!
Other debuts included:
“Por el Amor a mi Madre” (fiction)
Luis Horacio Pineda
“La Cosecha de los Naranjos” (fiction)
A group of teens affected by a fire 15 years ago in the nursery school Guarderia ABC seek revenge upon those responsible for it.
Luis now lives in Los Angeles where he is seeking to establish roots.
“Brooklyn Treehouse” (fiction)
This is the story of four young creatives
who come to New York; and through their experience of sharing an apartment with
a eccentric French artist, they are pushed to make decisions about their own
Produced by Edher Campos from MACHETE
PRODUCCIONES (“La Jaula de Oro”, “Año Bisiesto”)
Veronika Mliczewska (Poland)
“Where the Grass is Greener” (fiction)
Antonella Sudasassi (Costa Rica)
“El Despertar de la Hormigas” (fiction)
A young mother who questions what she wants for the first
time starts taking birth control pills without telling her husband.
Pitting her will against social expectations and the fear of being discovered slowlysubmerge her into a state of psychosis with hallucinatory episodes that portray her feeling of guilt, her relationship with her body and sexuality.
Mak Chun Kit
Documentarian Mak Chun Kit returns to Tanzania eight years after he volunteered in an orphanage to find out how his friends there have fared.
Pablo Perez Lombardini
“Los Suenos de Geronimo” (fiction)
A seven-year-old boy runs away to seek answers about his father’s death and comes upon a haunted village in the desert.
Two women fight to defend the rights of a group of women who seek the escape the misogyny of their communities.
The program will be offered three times a year for three weeks at a time. The next one is scheduled for March 2016. “We’d like to focus on American indie filmmakers then, as few applied this time,” said Florencio.
In our time, the idea of slowing down is ever more attractive, more important and more difficult. This is a program which offers time for that. “ Pueblo Magico offers its residents a less frenetic pace and a less impersonal approach to developing their projects, with time to enjoy the beauty
of their surroundings, visit the pueblo and hang out with mentors,” he added. The serious business of relaxation was led by yogi Namhari teaching
meditation and yoga.
It is not by chance that the filmmakers find their needs fulfilled. Their needs are determined first and then the right mentors are found just for them.
“If necessary, we’ll find not just film professionals but scientists, shamans or whatever sources they need,” said Florencio.
Mentors this session included Mexican producers Laura Imperiale,Christian Valdelievre and Nicolas Celis; screenwriter Carlos Contreras; Danish directing and acting coach Birgitte Staermose, festival pros/ consultants Mara Fortes, Christine Davila and Blanca
Granados and yours truly, Sydney Levine, giving the closing presentation about the international film circuit, what it is exactly and how to enter its
charmed circle of networking and screening opportunities.
A Master Class was given by Fernando Trueba, producer of the 2000 classic doc “Calle 54”, writer of the beautiful “Belle Epoque”, writer and director of the fabulous animated music feature “ Chico and Rita”. Residents also made a trip to D.F. for a private screenwriting session with
The master class of Nicolas Celis who has formed a coproduction entity with trend setter
Jim Stark (producer of Jim Jarmusch’s first films and films of Icelandic filmmaker Fredrik Fredrikson) will be the subject of an upcoming blog.
And soon, a call will be made to first and second time American indie filmmakers to come this March to Tepoztlan.