Sundance Institute has just announced the 12 projects selected to participate in the five day winter cycle of the screenwriters lab, an immersive workshop where esteemed creative advisors challenge the filmmakers’ veracity in achieving their vision, and in many cases make them go through the proverbial ringer. Although this batch of filmmakers do not get a chance to enjoy the warm hiking weather of the Sundance resort in June, these folks have an extra perk as they are invited to swing by the film festival a few days afterwards, the perfect reinvigorating finish to the intense story workshop.
One of the projects selected is ZEUS from Mexican multi-media artist and ‘provacateur’ Miguel Calderon. Perhaps his most ubiquitous work outside the insular art circuit is the 1998 exhibit titled, “Aggressively Mediocre/Mentally Challenged/Fantasy Island”. Pieces from this collection were made cult classic by Wes Anderson’s inclusion in his Royal Tenenbaums film. Read more about Calderon in this article. He also created a fictitious grueling futbol match out of 100 hours of real footage between Brazil and Mexico – in which Mexico kicks Brazil’s ass. Calderon then broadcast in some bars in Brazil. This imaginary win is all the more prankster given the two country’s fierce rivalry (Brazil usually kicks Mexico’s ass). This was shown in 2004’s Sao Paolo’s Bienale. Sounds like my kind of artist. I’m looking forward to tracking this up and coming audiovisual talent. Zeus marks his first foray into feature films. The logline copied from the press release: “Sporadically employed and still living with his mother, Joel finds his only joy in falconry in the flatlands outside Mexico City, until an encounter with a down-to-earth secretary forces him to face reality.” Calderon was recommended by Fernando Eimbcke who developed his script for Lake Tahoe at the 2006 Screenwriters Lab. Although there is no submission fee required for international projects wanting to submit their screenplays for consideration, unless you fall into the region of focus (Central America, North Africa, Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe) it is required to send a letter of inquiry or be referred by Sundance family. Among other Mexican projects that have gone through the labs in the past few years and I am eager to see come to fruition soon is HELI by Amat Escalante whose SANGRE and LOS BASTARDOS played Cannes Film Festival and I DREAM IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE by Ernesto Contreras who made BLUE EYELIDS which garnered a Special Jury Award at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition category.
In other Spanish-language programming recently announced as part of the four additional feature films screening at Sundance, Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Silva will now have not one but two films screen at the festival. In addition to Crystal Fairy screening in World Cinema Competition, Magic Magic will screen in Midnight section. Michael Cera stars in both of Silva’s films but he speaks Spanish in only Magic Magic. Perhaps it was the second one they shot together this past year judging by the confident Cera deftly picking up the distinct Chilean vernacular melody. But its Juno Temple who plays the insomniac Alicia at the center of Magic Magic, an tensely unhinging film. This is her third film in the 2013 Festival. Temple is also in the films, Afternoon Delight and Lovelace. Also making an appearance in the film who we haven’t seen in a while is Catalina Sandino Moreno who was last at Sundance with Maria Full of Grace in 2004. Sebastian Silva’s hottie brother, Agustin Silva and gorgeous Emily Browning round out this good looking young cast. Sebastian joins the uber-exclusive Sundance 2fer club- a director with two films selected at the same edition of the Festival. British documentarian Lucy Walker had two films play in the festival, both in competition back in 2010 , COUNTDOWN TO ZERO and WASTELAND, and before that I’m not sure but I think that Alex Gibney has also had two documentaries at the same Festival. TBD
Robert Rodriguez’s now-infamous $7,000 guinea pig budget and 16mm shot first feature, El Mariachi is screening as part of The Sundance Collection at UCLA, twenty years after it screened at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Collection at UCLA is an important preservation program of Sundance Institute managed by Senior Programmer John Nein that actively offers and encourages all festival alumni the opportunity to store their films properly. Rodriguez’s down and dirty video action flick put the San Antonio native on the map and became the precursor to Desperado, the glossier, sexier Banderas/Hayek version which came about after Rodriguez was offered a considerably higher budget to flex and show off his intuitive action flair. If you have not seen El Mariachi, I highly recommend it. Watch it right now on Crackle for free.
Before I peace out on this post, I want to take a moment to address a couple comments on my Indiewire repost, “WTF is Latino at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival”. In it I break down the Latino elements of the Festival program – I lump together American Latino oriented films with films from Chile. Someone commented on my including Chile in a Latino post. “South American films are not Latino films…” first-name only Michael wrote. First of all I want to thank him for saying as much. I would have loved to hear his source and explanation. This is the point of my blog; trying to re-appropriate our representation and design new and accurate terminology of and for ourselves. The blanket category Latino is a very diluted term and one I’ve heard with Hispanic interchangeably. What IS the difference between Latin and South America? I want to focus my blog on primarily films from a bi-cultural, bi-literate American Latino community, which for me means US inhabitants who come from, or have ancestry from Mexico, Central, South America, Cuba and Puerto Rico. Does Latino accurately represent this group? Do you as the audience understand the reference I mean when I use Latino? Admittedly, these are two different things.