On the heels of a world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival and ahead of its bow in New Directors competition at San Sebastian, BFF, who heads international sales, has given Variety exclusive access to the trailer for Nicaraguan director Laura Baumeister’s debut feature, “Daughter of Rage.”
The film follows 11-year-old María and her mother, Lilibeth, who navigate poverty by collecting and repurposing refuse from the local landfill. A look at stifling generational debt passed on in communities that work hard to stay afloat, the film also tackles precocious familial bonds, abandonment, and the salvation of an imagination that allows the protagonist to cope with uncertainty.
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As the trailer begins, a vast expanse of rubbish litters the frame. María’s alone, peering at other children at the top of a mountain of refuse. Detached from her peers, a large collection bag draped around her slight frame, she trudges through the garbage dump in search of goods.
Scenes of playful tenderness and care are juxtaposed with shots of Lilibeth reprimanding and scolding a melancholy María, demonstrating the duality of their complicated relationship.
As veiled tensions mount, Lilibeth leaves María to work at a factory while she travels to settle debts. Maria’s shown around the property and encounters Tadeo; the two form an instant and familiar bond, confiding in one another.
Traversing her distress, further scenes tease her imaginative way of coping before following her away from her newfound friend, Tadeo, and the factory, in search of her mother or a bit of closure. The community around ablaze, yet the sliver of hope in her eyes remains, despite ever-evolving traumas.
Produced by Laura and Rossana Baumeister and Bruna Haddad’s Nicaragua-based Felipa Films and Martha Orozco at México’s Marth Films alongside co-producers Halal, Heimafilm, Promenades Films, Caron Pictures, Dag Hoel Filmproduksjon and Nephilim Producciones, the project stands as the first fiction feature shot by a female Nicaraguan-born director within the country.
“Daughter of Rage” will compete in San Sebastián’s New Directors section alongside 15 other films from emergent directors including Rocío Mesa’s second feature “Tobacco Barns,” Maria Elorza’s “To Books and Women I Sing” and Jeong Ji-Hye’s opening night film “Jeong-Sun.”
The film offers a sobering commentary on the trajectory of grief, laying bare the weight of abandonment; that settles in like a seed that grows firm roots, advancing like an unruly weed into the depths of the protagonist’s psyche. It’s a poignant nod toward the stark contrast between the lives of children born into security and those raised with cyclical upheavals.
“In the concept of family that we’ve come to know, adults, to a certain extent, protect children from certain information, deficiencies, anguish and anxieties so that they can live. Life enters their worlds progressively,” Baumeister stated. “In the case of these children, there’s nobody protecting them. Life enters from the time they’re born, their minds instantly colliding and having to deal with the real world.”
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