Los Silencios,’ ‘Luciérnagas’ Top Toulouse’s Films in Progress

MADRID — Two films from women directors – Brazilian writer-director Beatriz Seigner’s “Los Silencios” and Bani Khoshnoudi’s “Luciernagas” – beat out strong competition Friday night at Toulouse’s 33rd Films in Progress to take between them its three top awards.

One of two annual Films in Progress, with San Sebastian’s September event, the Toulouse Cinelatino Fest’s pix-in-post competition often serves as a launchpad for selection at Cannes or other subsequent big fests – the Films in Progress’ 2017 winner, “The Desert Bride,” went on to score a berth at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.

Held in France’s Toulouse, nestling in the northern lap of the Pyrenees, Films in Progress also highlights key concerns of Latin American arthouse cinema. It is noteworthy, for example, that five of the six films this year  turn on some form of dislocation, whether caused by civil conflict, homophobia, poverty, violence or disease.

Seigner’s second feature after 2009’s “Bollywood Dream,” “Los Silencios,” a drama with touches of magical realism, centers on the psychological toil of violence on the young. It begins with two children and their mother, fleeing armed conflict in Colombia, arriving at an island between Colombia, Peru and Brazil. When the mother tells them they have to keep secret the fact their father is hiding there, the young daughter falls into silence.

Reflecting her own multi-cultural roots, Iran-born, Texas-raised and now Paris-based Bani’s Khoshnoudi’s “Luciernagas” tracks a young gay Iranian, Ramin, who stows away on a boat from Turkey to Mexico and in Veracruz rejoices in his new-found freedom. Yet he pines for his homeland and boyfriend still there.

“Los Silencios” won the showcase’s Toulouse Films in Progress Prize, adjudicated by French service companies and including a post-production grant from France’s CNC film-TV agency. It also took the European Distributors and Exhibitors’ Prize, taking in promotion by the Europa Distribution network and Cicae, the European arthouse confederation.

“Luciérnegas” swept the Cine Plus in Progress Special Prize, given by the movie channel division of giant French paybox Canal Plus.

The two films beat out “Perro Bomba,” the biggest winner at the Guadalajara Festival’s works-in-progress this month, a fiction chronicle of the double ostracism in Chile of a hard-working Haitian immigrant, disowned by his own Haitian community and pilloried by the Chilean media after he punches his racist construction-site manager.

The Toulouse Works in Progress also featured Fernando Frías’ anticipated “I’m No Longer Here,” about a 17-year-old Cholombiano, a Mexican urban tribe member, forced to emigrate from Monterrey to Queens, where his counter-culture is seen as a commodity. André Novais Oliveira’s “Temporada” charts the inner journey of a woman from a small town to the larger metropolis, where she helps to contend endemic disease. The journey which changes her life.