Dusseldorf Germany-based Patra Spanou Film has snagged psychological suspense-thriller “Delirio” by Alexandra Latishev, a co-production between Chile’s Cyan Prods and Linterna Films of Costa Rica.
Backed by Costa Rica’s El Fauno fund and the Ibermedia program, the drama turns on 11-year-old Masha who, with her mother Elisa, moves into her ailing grandmother’s house. While everybody believes Masha’s father is dead, she rejects the idea. Elisa begins to feel a menacing presence around the house and so to protect Masha, she seals her off from the outside world.
“Alexandra [Latishev] and I previously collaborated on ‘Medea,’ her directorial debut, which Patra Spanou also handled,” said Cyan’s Cynthia Garcia Calvo. “Like ‘Medea,’ ‘Delirio’ addresses themes related to women’s experiences, particularly concerning violence against women,” said the Argentine-born producer, who added: “I was intrigued by the opportunity to explore this subject matter within the framework of a thriller.”
Shot in Costa Rica with a mostly female crew, “Delirio” and Cyan’s Sanfic Industria Lab-Fiction participant, “Plaster Virgins,” dovetail with Garcia Calvo’s mission to train a spotlight on more female-driven issues.
“I was drawn to ‘Plaster Virgins’ because it encourages reflection on gender roles, social expectations, and traditions. It’s a story about identity and female empowerment, set against a unique visual and auditory backdrop. As a producer, I’m particularly interested in narratives that explore gender and diversity themes,” she told Variety.
A coming-of-age LGBTQ tale, “Plaster Virgins” (“Virgenes de yeso”) will be the feature debut of Katherina Harder, best known for her multiple-prize winning short films led by “Desert Lights,” which to date has nabbed 52 awards and qualifies to participate in the Oscars.
With Sanfic Industria’s Santiago Lab-Fiction strand as its first stop in its development journey, the drama follows 13-year-old Rosario who lives in the northern Chile desert town of La Tirana alongside her mother with whom she paints and sells religious plaster figures. On the eve of the traditional Fiesta de la Virgen de la Tirana, a spectacle that attracts some 250,000 visitors each July, she meets Ayleen (16), a Peruvian macha caporal dancer, who stirs a sexual awakening.
“Plaster Virgins’ rescues some elements of the northern and Andean identity of the extreme north of Chile to tell the story of a 13-year-old girl who, in the search of her own voice, and clashes with her traditional Catholic upbringing and the paradigms of the town,” said Garcia Calvo.
Having herself grown up in the extreme north of Chile in the middle of a desert, Harder taps her childhood memories of life in the arid region and the staunchly Catholic traditions of her family.
In “Plaster Virgins” the revelry of the annual festival contrasts with the strict conservatism of Tirana’s mere 1,000 inhabitants. “The figure of Ayleen was born when I discovered the machas caporales, female dancers who come to cross the limits and redefine the space that has historically been given to women in this dance, where the gender division is strict both in terms of clothing and movements,” said Harder in her director’s statement. “Wearing pants gives the dancers the freedom to kick with total abandon; it empowers them and gives them more confidence and a sense of control over their lives,” she observed.
As in some of her short films, she has worked with young non-professional actors and intends to do the same here. She draws on her past experience as the director and showrunner of TVN’s docu-reality series “4to Medio,” which follows a group of eight high schoolers in their final year amid their expectations and dreams for the future. “I like working with kids, they appeal to my inner child,” Harder mused.
“The desert landscape and how one’s identity is connected to the land you grow up in is very much an integral part of the film,” she told Variety.
Harder has been the artistic director of her hometown Iquique’s film festival for the past 15 years. She co-founded her production company Volcánica Films in a bid to fortify film production in the northern region of Chile. “Not enough filmmakers emerge from this region, we hope to change that,” she declared.