Santiago Fiction Lab participant “The Force of the Land” (“Raiz, La Fuerza de la Tierra”), the sophomore feature of Peruvian filmmaker Franco Garcia, has won the support of Peru’s production fund, which awards a mere 10 to 15 projects a year.
The drama is co-produced by Desfase Films and HDPeru, which have re-teamed after jointly producing a number of docs, including 2017 docudrama “Green River, The Time of the Yakurunas,” that screened at the 67th Berlinale, followed by New York’s MoMA Doc Fortnight and a slew of festivals across the world.
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A poetic exploration of the concept of time in three remote Amazon villages, “Green River..” marked the directorial feature debut of brothers Alvaro and Diego Sarmiento, founders of HDPeru, an indigenous film collective that mainly produces documentaries on the defense of native peoples’ rights and the conservation of the Andes and the Amazon of Peru.
“We hope to find another co-producer in the región or perhaps even a European territory, aside from a sales agent to cover our financing gap,” said Diego Sarmiento, co-writer and producer of “The Force of the Land.”
According to Sarmiento, Peru’s film fund for national and regional projects allot an average of $150,000 to $200,000 per project.
“The Force of the Land” follows a young boy who spends long, solitary days herding Alpacas in a remote Andes mountain village. His only companions are Ronaldo, a young Alpaca, and his old dog. He passes the long days talking to them about his passion, soccer, and his excitement about Peru’s historic advances in the World Cup.
But his idyllic existence is disrupted by the looming threat of mining companies that are polluting and driving indigenous people out of their ancestral lands. One day, a herd of alpacas, including his beloved Ronaldo, vanish. Authorities ignore his community’s pleas for help. Refusing to give up hope, he sets out alone to find his best friend.
The film will be shot in Peru’s Cuzco region, where Garcia and his producers are based. “We’ll be casting wide for our cast, but we’ll be looking out mainly for non-professional actors,” said Sarmiento, who co-wrote the screenplay with Alicia Quispe and Annemarie Gunkel.
The Santiago Fiction Lab forms part of Chile’s Sanfic Industria event, which kicked off on Oct.27 and wraps on Nov. 4.
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