Inside the transatlantic film factory
Claudia Llosa’s debut and Viggo Mortensen’s latest sprang from one Madrid course
When Peruvian filmmaker Claudia Llosa, niece of Nobel Prize-winning writer Mario Vargas Llosa, had her project half worked out in her head, she headed to Madrid in search of someone to help her develop it. After spending six weeks discussing her ideas with her tutor at the Casa de América, she left with the script for her debut film Madeinusa (2005) under her arm and went on to make La teta asustada, which won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 2009 and was nominated for an Oscar in 2010.
When Argentinean director Ana Piterbarg began shaping her recently released Todos tenemos un plan, she already had Viggo Mortensen in mind, but thought it would be impossible to get him. But after she attended the same script and production course, he ended up as her star. “I left there with the text almost finished and then ran into Viggo at the door of the Club San Lorenzo in Buenos Aires when I went to pick up my son from swimming class,” she says. “I dared to mention something about the script and he told me to send it over. A few months later he returned my call and I started looking for a producer. It worked. My stay in Madrid changed everything.”
The Iberoamerican Film Projects Development Course is a factory for movie projects from both sides of the Atlantic that takes place every year in Madrid, initially in the Casa de América with funds from the Fundación Carolina, and now at the Spanish Cinema Academy with help from the Spanish International Cooperation Agency (AECID), among other institutions. The 2012 edition — the 10th — began earlier this month and will continue until November 16.
For each edition, around 20 projects are selected by industry figures such as TV executive Mercedes Ortiz de Solórzano, and assessed by others, such as screenwriter and former Culture Minister Ángeles González Sinde.
The participants arrive as movie virgins and leave pregnant with a solid script and a path to production in sight. “It’s not just about getting a good script structure, but also about delving deeper into the film’s viability, which is why we set up meetings with Spanish producers,” says filmmaker and course director Gerardo Herrero.
Since 2003 the course has given birth to 58 films. Yo también (2009), Álvaro Pastor and Antonio Naharro’s film about the first European with Down’s Syndrome to attain a university degree, also started life here and went on to win the Silver Shells for Best Actor and Best Actress at the San Sebastián Film Festival. Not all have been so successful, but, united by the Spanish language, all are films that bring both sides of the Atlantic together.