Malaga Focus on Peru Boosts Opportunities for Diógenes Director Leonardo Barbuys Historical Drama Toro Mata (EXCLUSIVE)

This year’s Malaga Festival and its industry section’s Latin American Focus are celebrating Peruvian cinema and talent.

A number of Peruvian films are screening in the festival and industry section, including “El Caso Monroy,” by Josué Mendez, and Leonardo Barbuy’s debut feature “Diógenes,” which unspool in the fest’s main section and Zonazine sidebar.

As a meeting point for producers and directors from Latin American and investors from Spain and the rest of Europe, the Malaga Festival Industry Zone (MAFIZ) serves as a key hub that promotes the co-production of Latin American projects aimed at the international market.

For Barbuy, the premiere of “Diógenes” in Malaga brings it full circle.

“The project passed through MAFIZ in 2019, which opened up a series of opportunities for us,” the director tells Variety. “It was clearly an important showcase for the project. We were able to make contacts that bolstered the project. This made it possible to bring in co-production partners and access Ibermedia, the World Cinema Fund and the Aide aux Cinémas du Monde, which was important for ‘Diógenes.’”

The film centers on two siblings who are raised by their father in isolation in the Peruvian Andes and whose lives and reality are transformed by unexpected events.

Barbuy adds that the experience at MAFIZ has also continued to opened doors for future projects.

“Having a debut film in competition clearly generates attention and I’ve felt that there is interest in other productions that I’m thinking about.”

Barbuy is currently lining up his second feature, titled “Toro Mata.” Set in 1860, the film revolves around relationships of power on Italian estates in the Acarí Valley of southern Peru and the role of African slaves brought from Cartagena, the main port of entry for the South American slave trade at the time. The story also examines relations between powerful Italians, French and Spanish interests in the country and the role of the Peruvian forces from the high Sierra region.

“It’s a subject that has been discussed very little in Peru, which allows me to develop it in a more profound way while also telling an important historical story,” Barbuy says, adding that he’s very eager to find co-production partners.  

The project has already received development funding in Peru and the script, which Barbuy is penning with assistance from Mexican writer Beatriz Novaro, is nearly completed.

Peruvian projects at MAFIZ

A number of Peruvian productions are being presented in the different sections of MAFIZ.

Taking part in the Malaga Festival Fund & Co Production Event (MAFF) are Ximena Valdivia’s “4EBER”; Sairah Josefina Choque’s “Gloria”; “La Otra Orilla,” by Francesca Canepa; and Sonaly Tuesta’s “Misión Kipi.”

MAFF Women Screen Industry is presenting “Aida,” by Alejandra Gómez, while four projects by female Peruvian directors took part in the Warmi Lab, a MAFIZ Latin American Focus initiative emphasizing gender equality: Kandy Nataly Aures’ “Cabeza de Toro”; María Jimena Calderón’s “Catorce”; “Ukhu,” by Sadeli Nina Contreras; and Gladis Flórez’s “Watukamunayki.”

Mauricio Freyre and Juan Daniel Fernández Molero, meanwhile, are participating in the works-in-progress event, Malaga WIP Ibero-America, with their respective films, “Estados Generales” and “Punku.”

In addition, Nazaret Patricia Sánchez Vega was part of Malaga Talent and Katya Zevallos Ynmenos took part in Hack Malaga, which focuses on digital creators.

Three Peruvian works are also screening as part of the Latin American Focus:

*Aldo Salvini’s 2021 science fiction-fantasy drama “El Corazón de la Luna” (“Moon Heart”), which follows a lonely old homeless woman who one day sees a mechanical angel that will change her life;

*Rossana Díaz Costa’s 2021 period drama “Un Mundo para Julius” (“A World for Julius”), about a boy from an upper-class family in 1950s Lima who, despite growing up in a mansion with servants, loses his innocence as he discovers that the world is full of injustices;

*“Invasión Drag,” Alberto Castro Antezana’s 2020 documentary looks at the impact that international drag queen shows held in Lima in 2017 had on the local LGBT+ community in a country that is very conservative and religious.

On Wednesday, Erika Chávez Huamán, of Peru’s Directorate of Audiovisual, Sound Production and New Media (DAFO), and Carmen Julia García Torres, head of the Country Brand and Image Strategy Office, presented the large opportunities Peru offers for local and international filmmakers.

In recent years the number of international productions shot in Peru has grown. Recent high-profile films and series that have filmed in the country include the forthcoming “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” – so far the biggest project ever shot in Peru — and the Netflix series “The Queen of the South.”

“Peru’s participation in a major event like the Malaga Film Festival is a great opportunity to make our creativity visible and to promote it amongst the international community,” said Peruvian culture minister Leslie Urteaga Peña. “Many of the films and projects participating in the different sections of the Festival have the support of the ministry of culture, thanks to  economic incentives, a policy that promotes the growth of an entire ecosystem for Peruvian film and audiovisual production.”

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