Beristain, Patterson, Pancarte, Santamaria Bow Titles at San Sebastian

Thanks in part to a strong co-production drive, 13 Mexican-nationality movies play at San Sebastian this year, a major presence. 

Perlak frames Alejandro G. Iñarritu Venice player “Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths.”  Much of the heat, in industry terms at least, will come from the the premieres and sneak peeks.  

In one highlight, Natalia Beristáin will world premiere “Noise” (“Ruido”), before its Netflix November bow. In possibly another, Mexico’s Laura Pancarte (“Non-Western”) unveils “Sueño Mexicano” as a pic-in-post.

Eyes will also be turned to Mexico’s latest generation of auteurs.  One director is suddenly very well known: Longtime editor Natalia López Gallardo, a Berlin Jury Prize winner for “Robe of Gems.” 

Others are bubbling under: Juan Pablo González whose “Dos Estaciones” impressed at Sundance, Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson, director of “Summer White,” another Sundance title, and Bruno Santamaría, a Gold Hugo best doc winner at the 2020 Chicago Festival for “Things We Dare Not Do.” Both have new projects at San Sebastian’s Co-Production Forum. The full lineup:

“Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths,”(Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Perlak)

The first film by Iñárritu (“Birdman,” “The Revenant,” Perlak) in his native Mexico since his 2000 debut, “Amores perros.” In it, “the filmmaker takes a page — in fact, an entire book — from Fellini’s “8 1⁄2,” telling the story of a renowned Mexican journalist who is full of fears and fantasies but mostly full of himself,” Owen Gleiberman  wrote in his News Brig review.

“Daughter of Rage,” (“La hija de todas las rabias,” Laura Baumeister,  New Directors)

Mixing scathing social realism and oneiric lyricism, Baumeister’s first feature, a mother-daughter broken relationship story set at a garbage dump in Managua, Guatemala “Daughter of Rage” swept San Sebastian’s Co-Production Forum (2019), before winning its WIP Latam (2021), a rare double. Marta Orozco’s MarthFilms in Mexico was one production mainstay, joins a strong six-country co-production base.

Daughter of Rage

Credit: BFF

“Dos Estaciones,” (Juan Pablo González, Horizontes Latinos)

Scoring an applauded Sundance Jury Award winner for lead Teresa Sánchez, set in the cosily rolling Jalisco Highlands but charting the merciless disappearance of Mexican artesanal tequila plants, gobbled up by global brands. Sánchez plays María Garcia, the steel-willed owner of Dos Estaciones, who holds out, despite a plague and a flood. Gloriously shot, a mournful valedictory to the passing of an age. Jamie Gonçalves, Ilana Coleman and Bruna Haddad of Sin Sitio Cine produced out of Mexico.

“Feeling It,” (“Sintiéndolo Mucho,” Fernando Leon Aranoa, Velodrome) 

A doc feature portrait of Spanish singer-songwriter Joaquín Sabina, 13 years in the making, depicting “the artist, his best and worst moments, and his personality, so linked to his work, his creativity,” Leon de Aranoa told News Brig. Produced byReposado, BTF Media, Sony Music Spain.

“The Kings of the World,” (“Los Reyes del Mundo,” Laura Mora, Competition)

Colombian Mora’s anticipated follow-up to 2017’s breakout “Killing Jesus,” backed by producer-director Cristina Gallegos (“Birds of Passage”), the fantasy-laced tale of five Medellín street kids who take off into the mountains to find a promised land. Produced out of Mexico by enterprising production/distribution house Interior X111, backed by Eficine 189 funding.

Kings of the World

Credit: Juan Cristobal Cobo

“La Hija del General,” (Rodrigo Ruiz Patterson, Mexico, Co-Production Forum)

Set up at Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna’s La Corriente del Golfo, a friendship tale between two – very different – women during the Mexican Revolution. Directed by Ruiz Patterson, his awaited follow-up to 2020 Sundance-selected “Summer White,” a psychologically acute coming-of-age-film.

“Mexican Dream,” (“Sueño Mexicano,” Laura Plancarte, WIP Latam)

Malena battles to finish her house, set up a business and receive IVF testament to get pregnant, bringing together her family under one roof as she always dreamed. Whether she can pull this off is another question.  Plancarte’s follow-up to the well-received “Non-Western,” produced out of Mexico by her own label, LP Films, and Ivan Trujillo at TV UNAM.  

“Noise,” (“Ruido,” Natalia Beristáin Horizontes Latinos)

San Sebastián’s big Mexican world premiere, a heart-wrenching chronicle of a mother’s desperate search for her missing daughter. This is grounded in a near-to-doc portrait of the search process and women’s protest movements: Not for nothing the screenplay is co-written by Diego Osorno  (“1994,” “Devils  Freedom”) and collaborator Alo Valenzuela. Balancing that, Beristain traces the emotional, mental and physical impact on the searcher, lacing the film with a dreamlike lyricism. Woo

Films, a producer via Noc Noc Cinema on “House of Flowers,” produces with Beristáin’s shingle Bengala.

“Octopus Skin,” (“La Piel Pulpo,” Ana Cristina Barragán, Horizontes Latinos)

The second feature from Ecuador’s Barragán, an alum of San Sebastian’s Elias Querejeta Zine Eskola, coming-of-age family drama “La Piel Pulpo” (“Octopus Skin”) turns on twins Iris and Ariel who live with their mother and younger sister on a remote island. Santiago Ortiz Monasterios’ Desenlace Films produces in Mexico.

“Pornomelancholy,” (“Pornomelancolia,” Manuel Abramovich, Competition)

The latest doc feature from Argentine Manuel Abramovich, a 2019 Berlinale Silver Bear winner for “Blue Boy,” depicting Lalo, an out-of-sorts sex influencer living in the mountains of southern Mexico. A Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund awardee.


Credit: Gema Films

“Robe of Gems,” (“Manto de Gemas,” Natalia López Gallardo, Zabaltegi-Tabakalera)

A 2022 Berlin Jury Prize winner, from editor Natalia López Gallardo (“Jauja,” “Post Tenebras Lux,” “Heli”). Three women clash with a drug gang, sparking tragedy and violence in a film which charts – often numbingly – the “spiritual wound” of a “cycle of villainy,” as López Gallardo puts it. Sold by Visit Films.  

“Six Months in the Pink and Blue Building,” (“Seis meses en el edificio rosa con azul,” Bruno Santamaría, Co-Production Forum)

A nuanced, comedy-drama with an undertow of tragedy, written-directed by awarded documentary filmmaker Bruno Santamaría Razo (“Cosas que no hacemos”),”  “an opportunity to understand an intimate and familiar event from the past,” in Santamaría Razo’s words. The story, set in the ’90s, follows 10-year-old boy Bru, whose father is diagnosed with HIV, sparking his family’s break-up.

“The Substitute,” (“El Suplente,” Diego Lerman, Competition)

From Lerman (“Suddenly”), a leading light of the New Argentine Cinema. Produced by Nicolás Avruj at Campo Cine, the hope-tinged drama is set at secondary school on Buenos Aires’ violent, marginalized outer radius. Esperanto Kino (“Desierto”) co-produces out of Mexico.