Blood Window’s Tinta Oscura: Sitges Winner Demian Rugna, ‘Desde tu infierno’s’ Sandra Becerril, ‘Evil Eye’s’ Junior Rosario Among Finalists (EXCLUSIVE)

Fresh off making history, becoming the first Latin American to win the best picture award at Sitges with highly acclaimed Shudder Original “When Evil Lurks,” Argentina’s Demián Rugna figures among writers of six finalist screenplays at Tinta Oscura 2023, presented by Blood Window and Argentine independent Del Toro Films.

Part of Ventana Sur, backed by Cannes Marché du Film and Argentina’s INCAA film-TV agency, Blood Window unspools over Nov. 27-Dec. 1 in Buenos Aires.

More from Variety

Further finalists, chosen from some 300 submissions, take in Mexico’s extraordinarily prolific and multi-prized horror writer Sandra Becerril (“Desde tu infierno”) and the Dominican Republic’s Junior Rosales. co-writer of Isaac Ezban’s “Evil Eye,” a B.O. hit.

Screenplays must be original and unpublished fantastic genre works, either horror or sci-fi stories. The winning script will  be announced at Blood Window on Dec. 1. It will receive a $10,000 cash prize from Del Toro Films (“On the 3rd Day,” “The Funeral Home,” “Don’t Come Back Alive”) which will produce the title, presenting details of ongoing development and a production schedule at next May’s Cannes Marché du Film, aiming to shoot  in 2024. 

Launched in 2022, Tinta Oscura aims to address what has been described as the Achilles’ Heel of Latin America fantastic genre, its screenwriting. The second edition of Tinta Oscuro takes place just a month after this year’s American Film Market which crowned horror and sci-fi, alongside action thrillers, as the go-to option for  producers in and outside the U.S., given its large attraction for streamers and little requirement for stars.

In a lineup which speaks large of paranoia coursing through the contemporary zeitgeist, five of the six finalist screenplays on the horror of altered identity whether through possession or genetic engineering, age or, for example, another world which, for the protagonist of “The Other Side,” hides a truth that “shakes the foundations of his very being.”

This year’s Tinta Oscura jury is made up of Pablo Guisa (Grupo Mórbido), Luis Rosales (Curtas Festival do Imaxinario), writer-director Santiago Fernández Calvete (“The Exorcism of God”), Néstor Sánchez Sotelo (Del Toro Films) and Javier Fernández Cuarto (Blood Window).

“We are passionate about horror and science fiction, and we have a team of expert curators of genre films to find the best script,” said Néstor Sánchez Sotelo, producer of Del Toro Films

He added:  “Participating in previous editions of Blood Window has allowed us to meet creators, producers, festivals, an immense community of genre cinema. To make this edition of Tinta Oscura contest together fills us with pride, Blood Window is a superlative platform for our genre film projects.”

A drill-down on Tinta Oscura titles:

“All Your Fears,” (“Todos tus miedos,” Sandra Becerril, Mexico)

The latest from Becerril, Ariel-nominated for “Desde tu infierno” and an institution on Mexico’s horror scene with over 40 novels and 45 screenplays under her belt and counting at the age of only 43. Here, Chloe – a famed American horror author – has her car breakdown in a Mexican village with Mayan ruins, terrorised by the spirit of a serial killer looking for a way out of hell.

“Genetic,” (“Genética,” Demián Rugna, Martín Amoya, Argentina)

The big one. A new screenplay from Rugna, fresh off his Sitges triumph and director of Austin Fantastic Fest winner “Terrified.” Rita, suffering panic attacks, loses touch with husband Juan in the woods, then stumbles across a strange community, guarded by a hostile ranger, whose inhabitants are the result of years of genetic engineering. Rugna teams on writing duties with longterm Argentine AD Martín Amoya.

“Itzpapalotl, The Obsidian Butterfly,” (“Itzpapálotl, La Mariposa de Obsidiana”), Helena Aguilera, writer-director-producer, Mexico)

Highly courted, especially after 80-episode melodrama “La Herencia,” which she co-wrote, hit pay dirt on TelevisaUnivision, Aguilera now has projects set up with the U.S., BTF Media and Televisa. “Itzpapalotl” sees an earthquake lay bare a buried part of the city of Tenochitlán, with Pepe Cortés, an archeologist, discovering an obsidian crucifix, revealing the image of Itzpaplotl, the monstrous goddess of vengeance, death and rebirth.

Helena Aguilera, Sandra Becerril, Demián Rugna, Martín Amoya
Helena Aguilera, Sandra Becerril, Demián Rugna, Martín Amoya

“The Other Side,” (“El Otro Lado,” Junior Rosario, Dominican Republic)

A newborn baby is discovered abandoned in a forest. As he matures into man, he is haunted by visions which connect him to the Other Side, positioning him as a conduit between the two worlds. The latest from Rosario whose first screenplay, “Evil Eye,” was directed by Isaac Ezban as his first horror film, grossing $1.7 million in Mexico, and playing Austin Fantastic Fest and Sitges.

“Past (Im)Perfect,” (“Pretérito Imperfecto,” David Caiña Pérez, Spain)

2063: an elderly couple, sunk in tedium, travel back to 2023 and their first date in a run-down Chinese restaurant where they experience first signs of infatuation. They are watched by their older selves at another table who are barred from interacting with them. Inspired by the director’s earlier play, “a sci-fi comedy about the beginnings and endings of relationships,” says Caiña Pèrez, who has written nine shorts and 15 theater pieces over the last decade.

“The Time,” (“El Horario,” Hector Cañas, Sergio Salgueiro, Argentina)

In the 1930s, a boatman on the Paraná River kidnapped and devoured children in the name of a supernatural being, El Horario. Nearly 100 years later, Paula arrives at Víboras, desperate to cross the Paraná to Paraguay. But El Horario is still under the waters, and it is hungry. From Salgueiro, writer of the well received “Dead Heart” (2015) and Cañas, director of “Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre 20 Años” (2019).

Sergio Salgueiro, Hector Cañas, David Caiña Pérez, Junior Rosario
Sergio Salgueiro, Hector Cañas, David Caiña Pérez, Junior Rosario

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.