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Locarno 2022 - Locarno Pro

Country Focus: Switzerland

REPORT: Open Doors @ Locarno Pro 2022


- A look at the Latin American-European projects Sopor and Bird by Ana Cristina Barragán and Kids Swimming in the Lake by Michael Labarca, currently in development

REPORT: Open Doors @ Locarno Pro 2022
A moment during the Plenary session Open Doors, Friday 5 August (© Locarno Film Festival/Ti-Press/Samuel Golay)

Cineuropa gained access to two of the Open Doors Hub projects presented during this year’s edition of Locarno Pro (5-7 August). The initiative aims to connect talents and projects from the region of focus – on this occasion, the Caribbean countries and Central and Southern America – with European producers.

The first project, titled Sopor and Bird, is a co-production between Ecuador’s Boton Films, Argentina’s Bomba Cine and Spain’s Zine Eskola, with Ana Cristina Barragán (Alba [+see also:
film review
film profile
) at the helm. The picture revolves around a group of teens, victims of sex trafficking in Ecuador. Talking about its main themes, the director disclosed: “Sopor and Bird explores trafficking through the bodies of these girls, their games and hair, their ways of bathing, the laughter that sounds painful, the girls who are mothers and those who play at being mothers. It urges me to talk about it, without seeing it directly, because I believe that then the facts transcend the image, the breaks, like tips of icebergs that suggest something much deeper.”

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“I felt the meetings where really spot on for the project and I formed real connections with possible producers for the film. Open Doors made the gap between directors, programmers and funding much shorter and we learned so much about each other,” she added.

“The meetings, talks and sharing experience with the other colleagues open our hearts, minds, spirits and doors. For our project Sopor and Bird, in particular, the reception has been really great. It is a very risky project from its conception and way of production, but it has raised a lot of interest even though it's so new. We are confident that after Open Doors, we will close important agreements and welcome great new partners,” explained producer Joe Houlberg, of Boton Films.

Check out Sopor and Bird’s exclusive still below:

Courtesy of Boton Films

Currently in development, Michael Labarca’s drama Kids Swimming in the Lake is being produced by Patricia Ramírez Arévalo for Venezuela’s Todos Los Ríos and co-produced by France’s René Osi and Chile’s Florencia Rodríguez and Dominga Ortúzar. The story starts during a long blackout in Venezuela. 11-year-old Dayana and her two little siblings dream of leaving the country and reuniting with their father, who migrated to flee the crisis. As they anxiously wait for this day, the kids watch as other families and their friends leave first.

Speaking about their experience at Open Doors, Labarca and Ramírez Arévalo told Cineuropa: “We came here with a clear goal: to find a second European co-producer, a creative partner to join us and together add strategies and talents to make our film possible. During the one-to-one meetings, we met interesting professionals from different countries. Now we leave Locarno with the good feeling of having found the interest of several of them, to keep in touch and eventually finalise an agreement with one or maybe two. We return to our country with a stronger project, good contacts as well as new talented friends from our region.” On his artistic vision, Labarca added: “My need to make this film and not another comes from the deep mourning of having lost my country. It is consistent with the image that today orbits my mind as a migrant myself: the people I left behind. This is an urgent story because it talks about a crisis that is happening now, not only in Venezuela, because there are many other countries that are also dealing with the ravages of migration.” The project also won the Open Doors’ second biggest prize, a development grant of 15,000 Swiss francs awarded by the CNC.

Still courtesy of Michael Labarca and Patricia Ramirez
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