Laura Baumeister • Director of Daughter of Rage
“This will be the first fiction film directed by a Nicaraguan woman”
- We interviewed Nicaraguan director Laura Baumeister, who has just been awarded the EFADs–CAACI Europe-Latin America Co-Production Grant in San Sebastián for her project, entitled Daughter of Rage
Once again, EFADs (the European Film Agency Directors Association) has teamed up with CAACI (Conference of Ibero-American Audiovisual and Film Institutes) for the Europe-Latin American Co-Production Forum at the San Sebastián International Film Festival, with the €20,000 EFADs-CAACI Europe-Latin America Co-Production Grant awarded to the majority producer of the winning project. “Impressed by the quality of all of the projects submitted,” this year the jury opted for what they described as “the debut film from a very talented director and an organic co-production”: Daughter of Rage by Laura Baumeister. The film will be coproduced by two Latin American countries (Nicaragua and Mexico) and three European ones (Netherlands, Germany and France), involving thus less traditional co-production partners, which was a crucial specificity of the project for the jury to choose it.
The film will tell the story of María, a young girl who lives on the edge of a vast rubbish dump in Managua. After accidentally poisoning the puppies her mother was rearing to sell, she is taken to a recycling plant to learn the ropes, but after weeks have passed and her mother has not come back for her, María sets off to track her down. What she doesn’t know is that a wave of violent protests is unfurling in the city, and her quest will soon lead her into danger. We asked the director herself to tell us a bit more about the project.
Cineuropa: How did you come up with the idea behind this project?
Laura Baumeister: When I was a teenager, at school I was sometimes asked to teach classes, or rather to teach reading and writing, to children who lived in La Chureca, the biggest rubbish dump in Nicaragua, which inspired the story — a lot of the film will be set there. As I got to know these children, I was struck by the conditions they lived in, but they blew my mind because they were just like any other children — they were imaginative, they had dreams, they would tell you all kinds of jokes, go on treasure hunts... all the things that any child does. It immediately hit me how resilience the imagination is, and how you can draw strength from creating your own world. So that’s how I came to know about that place. Afterwards, I carried on with my life; I studied filmmaking in Mexico and made a few short films, and when I felt ready to take on my first feature, I went back to Nicaragua to write. Specifically, I went to La Chureca, because it had stayed with me all that time. I started to do some research, and because I knew I wanted to explore a mother–daughter relationship, like I did in my earlier short films, I decided to combine the two.
In technical terms, how did the project get started?
My producer is actually my sister, Rossana Baumeister, and she has always been there for me, quite literally. The co-production with Mexico (Martha Orozco for Martfilms) came about naturally because I live there, and the relationships developed organically; first we became friends, and later we worked together. At this point, the project just took off. We were singled out by the Hubert Bals Fund, who helped us with development funding and took us to CineMart, and that led us to producers from the Netherlands (Christine Anderton for Halal) and Germany (Bettina Brokemper for Heimatfilm). Through our Mexican production company we were introduced to Samuel Chauvin (Promenades Films), who had already worked with some of my colleagues in the industry in Latin America, and it all started to fall into place.
Talking of co-production markets, I imagine that events like CineMart in Rotterdam or the Europe-Latin American Co-Production Forum here in San Sebastián have been vitally important for your project. How useful would you say these were?
They’re crucial. At CineMart we also received an award, and that really kick-started the project. We wouldn’t be making this film without it. Nicaragua has no film industry, no film schools; there are a handful of Nicaraguan fiction films, but this will be the first one to be directed by a woman. There’s some pressure there, but I’m also really excited — the first time for anything can be wonderful. Right now, after the EFAD-CAACI Award, it feels like we are on the home stretch.
What’s your current time frame for the film?
We’re working hard to get everything ready to start filming in April 2020, because the little girl we’ve cast in the main role is growing up fast, and because Nicaragua only has two seasons: wet and dry. This is a really key factor, because if we miss our chance this year, we’re looking at 2021. But thanks to this grant, I think we’re going to get there.
(Translated from Spanish)
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