Once upon a time Asia was the go-to region for the hottest movies on the world cinema scene. These days common consensus says Latin America has largely inherited that mantle and Argentina's Ventana Sur Film Market is the must-attend event. Follow FrightFest's Alan Jones as he navigates his way around Buenos Aires and Ventana Sur's Blood Window.





    I'm back in Argentina, for the Ventana Sur market, the Cannes of South America. It's 32 degrees outside, gorgeous weather, the event has just started and it's terrific to meet up once more with all my festival, sales agents and director friends. I adore Buenos Aires, it's one of my favourite places to come. I was first here in the mid 1980's when my good friend Russell Mulcahy was on location with HIGHLANDER 2: THE QUICKENING. I know some of you have already heard my Sean Connery stories about that amazingly outrageous time. Then I did a little work on Madonna's EVITA - more scandal - before coming over solely for pleasure and then the Blood Window section of Ventana Sur run by the brilliant Javier Fernandez. Three out of the five best meals I've ever eaten were in this country. Trust me, if you've never eaten goat asado/barbecue, you haven't lived. THE ROTTEN LINK director Javier Diment has promised to invite me to his place and serve me up his version. Don't get me started on the tango bars either - and thanks to where I'm staying I get to have breakfast in one every morning. And now the government has changed at last, finally the economic woes that have afflicted the Argento of South America, the only way is up.

    Last year I saw Adrian Garcia Bogliano's SCHERZO DIABOLICO before anyone else and snapped it up fast for FrightFest in August. Isaac Ezban's THE SIMILARS was another exemplary attraction and we are still working out a way to bring that to you all. This year looks a stellar line-up too. HIDDEN IN THE WOODS director Patricio Valladares has made me promise him I'll take a look at his new offering DOWNHILL, whether he'll be here or not I don't know as he's currently making yet another movie in Bulgaria, thanks to wunderkind LANDMINE GOES CLICK producer Loris Curci. There's also ONCE UPON A TIME IN BUENOS AIRES that looks like a fantasy variant on the WILD TALES template. Other titles of interest include DAEMONIUM, PRESAGIO and CHAMELEON.

    I'm singing for my supper tomorrow when I join panelists Chris Orgelt (Brussels), Rodrigo Duarte (Zinema Zombie Fest, Colombia), Mikko Aromaa (Night Visions, Finland), Edna Campos Tenorio (Macabro, Mexico), Pablo Guisa Koestinger ( Morbido, Mexico), Anais Emery (Neuchatel) and Chris Oosterum (Yume Pictures) to talk about the state of the nation as regards the genre globally. It's always a lively discussion and this year I have a lot to talk about what with our brand extensions and FrightFest Presents.

    My favourite event here though is happening on Wednesday this year in two extended morning and evening sections. Yes, it's the pitching sessions where producers and directors big up their latest ideas for a maximum of ten minutes to try and raise financial interest. Last year was so much fun I'm really looking forward to this. But right now I have to attend the inaugural Blood Window event, meeting the fantastic industry, this year represented by among others our favourite Jinga duo Julian Richards and Rosana Coutinho. They will need to see a friendly face in the audience I think.

    Much more later....


    Click on the banners above to open and close.

  •       DAY TWO | LOCAL HERO



    Ventana Sur takes place in a massive university building in the upscale area of Buenos Aires known as Puerto Madero. Think something like the docklands areas around London's Tower Bridge for the same type of environment.  It's here the politicians, movie stars and well-heeled live and has become something of a destination area due to all the restaurants, clubs and Cinemark multiplex, where the market screenings take place.

    I kicked off my second day here with a movie I've been longing to see since it became Argentina's highest grosser ever for a local attraction. Pablo Trapero's THE CLAN tells a true story many outside this country will never believe. In the early 1980s Arquimedes Puccio (Guillermo Francella, the Bill Nighy of Buenos Aires) was employed to kidnap supposed dissidents on behalf of the government, dubbed The Disappeared here, as many victims have still never been officially recognised or found.

    But when the Videla dictatorship collapsed and his 'job' ended the only way Puccio could make money was to continue with the practice and abduct his rich neighbours. Involving his entire family, especially Puccio's reticent rugby champion son Alejandro (Peter Lanzani), Trapero's riveting and horrifying thriller shows how they cope with what's going on in the basement and how the authorities turned a blind eye to what he was doing until it became an embarrassment that just had to be halted in the PR regime clean up.

    Which is what happened in August 1983 and is related in stunning Scorsese/Hollywood style, ending in one of the most bravura and shocking attempted suicide finales you'll have ever witnessed. I'm a massive fan of Trapero's work - CARANCHO, WHITE ELEPHANT and the sublime LEONERA - but his incredible directorial technique here, making the audience complicit in the planned kidnappings, and storytelling prowess puts him on a whole new praise-worthy level. The acting is fabulous - Francella's cold as ice psychopath is extraordinary - and the pop soundtrack of Kinks and David Lee Roth hits to name just a few, a terrific contrast to the on-screen violence. Artificial Eye release in the UK next year so do not miss it.

    Expected to be the next Argentine sensation is released tomorrow. KRYPTONITA is directed by Nicanor Loreti, is based on a popular novel by Leo Oyola and is beating SUICIDE SQUAD to the market by a couple of months. It's about super-powered villains who hold a hospital hostage when one of them takes sick and the police siege that occurs as a result. It's 'Gotham' by way of SCARY MOVIE. Very local humour means this will be a big winner here and it should be noted that one of the villains is a drag queen named Lady Di. Take that 'Top Gear'!

    Guess where the most violent movies in the world are released without any censorship? And while most territories are now becoming more conservative, where they ask filmmakers to include even more horror for the local audiences who can't get enough blood and guts? The answer is Colombia, which probably isn't that surprising considering their drug cartel related reality. So when a Colombian movie comes along titled VIOLENCIA, it would seem a good bet for the horror crowd, right? Wrong, unfortunately as Jorge Forero's jungle-set drama is about existential violence, how the very acts themselves impact psychologically on three people marching through the forests. Full of long takes and with very little going on, this is a missed opportunity considering the facts of the matter. Now I must take my place on the Fantastic Festivals panel and hype FrightFest to the assembled South American masses.

    Until next time....


    Click on the banners above to open and close.

    Javier Diment and Patricio Valladares at Blood Window cocktail party




    Day 3 at Ventana Sur and the Blood Window horror strand really gets into gear today with the pitch sessions, my absolutely favourite part of the market. Basically, producers and directors are given six minutes to excite the audience about their upcoming projects. The 'how to pitch' lecture on the first day would have given pointers to all the interested parties and the idea is to be engaging and interesting enough to get meetings with the sales agents and financiers in the select audience. Presentation is everything so it's an object lesson in dynamism, enthusiasm and talent. Plus having a good story/concept too. Then there's a minute set aside for any questions before the next pitch begins.

    Here's a rough guide to what was on offer this morning and I think it shows exactly where this fledgling genre industry is at. From Uruguay there was KIKEN, a science fiction horror that poses the question, could you save your relationship in a mutant infested town? This one was promised to be a visually modern movie, viscerally conceived as an energetic rollercoaster. LONG WEEKEND meets John Carpenter was the startling inspiration discussed. From Mexico, THE INCIDENT/THE SIMILARS director Isaac Ezban was pitching his new production THE DUMP about a guy working in a massive waste disposal area who believes there's a demon living below the pile of waste. JEEPERS CREEPERS meets FRAILTY, with POV camerawork from the creature perspective was promised by a highly emotive Ezban. If I was him the first thing I'd dump would be the unappealing title.

    From Brazil came THE ANIMAL RACE set in post-apocalyptic 2032 Rio de Janiero, which was basically a budget-conscious HUNGER GAMES done in SIN CITY style. Also from that country was BY DEMON'S WILL, directed by Cintia Domit Bittar, about a religious teen possessed by the devil becoming a career psychiatrist diagnosing other afflicted girls. The Chilean LAMIAE was pitched as an X rated erotic horror about a forest-dwelling witch who eats the flesh of anyone stupid enough to enter her domain. Four criminals on the run do so after causing a bloody massacre in a diner with extremely bloody results. This was a good pitch because of a very evocative - and very naked - teaser trailer. The Spanish CRYING BOY is based on a popular myth about a painter making a deal with the devil for fame and fortune. Gael Garcia Bernal and Penelope Cruz were mentioned in relation to stars interested in the project. Hmmmm!

    The Dominican Republic's UQBAR was pitched in dramatically old-fashioned terms as ENEMY MINE meets QUEST FOR FIRE. I asked the producer, wearing a title logo T-shirt, if he thought anyone in the audience was actually old enough to remember those movies! This one was about the sex life of aliens and how they cope with the lack of genitalia, or that's what I gleaned from it anyway. The last pitch today was Christian Cheva's BIRTHDAY PRESENT, a supernatural gorefest described as THE RING meets AY TU MAMA TAMBIEN, which actually intrigued me enough to chat to him afterwards. Out of all of the pitches today, this was the one that proved the most interesting, and he even gave everyone in the audience a relevant gift. I did tell him that the core idea of a possessed video tape had to change as who these days even has a player? And because he wants it to star popular YouTubers, would that generation actually respond to such an outmoded technology these days. Who know if he takes any of that on board though.

    Last night most of my fellow Europeans decided to go for tango lessons at a local restaurant. Been there, done that. And after staggering through DAEMONIUM, a popular webisode attraction in this neck of the woods, reconfigured as a feature for international play-off, I decided to join Gaspar Noe, here to conduct a master class on his movie LOVE 3D, at his father's favourite bar and grill for steaks and ice cream. That was an interesting evening as you might imagine. For now it's back-to-back screenings beginning with UPTAKE FEAR and PRESAGIO, before heading off to Palermo Hollywood, the Soho of this city, for another fun night down Argentine way.

    Until next time....


    Click on the banners above to open and close.




    Finally, in a full evening of so-so screenings, I saw the best Blood Window entry so far. Carlos Algara and Alejandro Martinez Beltran's VERONICA comes from Mexico and is one of the classiest chillers I've seen from that territory since the work of Arturo Ripstein. Basically it concerns a psychiatrist who takes on a new patient at her remote retreat. No one has been able to help up until now so her previous doctor has recommended her unique therapy. Veronica is clearly disturbed and as the movie progresses we found out the past childhood trauma why. But this is one of those sneaky plots that lays clues and plot traps to what it really ends up being about brilliantly realised by the photography changing slowly from black and white into rich colour as the full spectrum of realisation sets in. I was totally engaged by this twisty shocker, lurching into creepy lipstick lesbianism, and even got fooled by a major clue contained in the title itself. You'll be hearing more about this special movie for sure. I doubt whether the same will be said about UPTAKE FEAR though, essentially a floundering FALLING DOWN conceit ending in psychotic break and bloody massacre.

    Day 2 of the pitch sessions began with INTRA, from Argentina, about a flooded city awash with a cult of criminal children. Director Pablo Rabe unfortunately couldn't make this psycho thriller/body horror/religious shocker mix sound that appetising. Rabe even resorted to bringing up his past, spending years in hospital with a rare condition, as the reason for developing it. THE ZIT comes from the Uruguay collective of Manuel Facal and Ignacio Cucuovich and is a boy meets girl story with a disconnected difference as one of them is afflicted with a case of acne that takes over their face. It turns out this disfigurement is a curse invoked by her ex boyfriend and the tone is rom com horror. PINILLA AND HIS TERRIFYING HALLUCINATIONS 3D concerns real filmmaker Jairo Pinilla, the Terence Fisher of Colombia who became a recluse for 15 years during his heyday, making a comeback 3D terror flick about satanism and how it impacts on his new life in the spotlight again. This looked really interesting and it's always fascinating to find out about an unsung genre personality. Peru's JAGUAR WOMAN is a neo noir supernatural thriller about, surprise, surprise, a woman who transforms into a jaguar to take revenge on black marketeers. Val Lewton in the Amazon was the main thrust of this pitch.

    Mexico's TATEWARI, from the producers of the original WE ARE WHAT WE ARE, is the story of two lovers on a bad peyote drug trip who turn into blood-thirsty maniacs. Argentina's BLACK FURY deals with a child prostitution ring based in the jungle and is supposedly a tribute to 1960s sex star Isabelle Sarli who put Argentina on the erotic cinema map with such bonkbusters as FUEGO, TROPICAL ECSTASY and MUHAIR. Next was PULSION, an Argentine trilogy in the Amicus tradition directed by Daniel de la Vega, Ezio Massa and the incomparable Adrian Garcia Bogliano who on film revealed his episode was titled 'Fracture' and concerned a man hitting his head and turning crazy due to the accident. Three pitches from the Catalonian Film Industry in Barcelona were then given: REM concerning a chronic insomniac, SAVANT about a neuro-scientist whose mind is about to be completely erased by disease and looks to the medical extremes for a cure, and CHILDREN OF SATURN set in a post-apocalyptic world where adults need to eat their own offspring. The latter is written by David Nunoz who co-scripted THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE. As you can divine, quite a mixed bag all round and it will be interesting to see which pitch makes the grade to production. Now I'm catching screenings of RESURRECTION and CHAMELEON before heading over to Javier Diment's house for the much promised asado/barbecue that he swears will be the best ever. Let's see....

    Until next time....


    Click on the banners above to open and close.




    The barbecue at Javier Diment's house last night turned into a major party for over 20 invited guests. The reason? FURIA NEGRA won the Blood Window Best Pitch award and I had no idea that Javier was the producer of it and is also going to star as one of the three main leads. So the two young directors were invited along too, Hernan and Gonzalo Quitana, and a good time was had by all. Getting the award is crucial mainly because it comes with the prize of having all the eventual subtitling done free by a local production facility. Another selection from the pitch sessions, PINILLA AND HIS TERRIFYING HALLUCINATIONS 3D, was chosen by Austin's Fantastic Fest as the project they would most like to help move into proper development. My favourite work-in-progress VERONICA deservedly won the Best Film Award, with a special mention give to my other highly regarded entry CHAMELEON.

    Jorge Riquelme Serrano's Chilean psycho thriller is best described as Mike Leigh meets Michael Hanneke as it outlines machinations of a suave serial killer cutting a swathe through the upper class community of Santo Domingo. After first preying on an elderly gay guy, Gaston works his charm on two lesbians who can't understand why they are feeling so ill after drinking the wine he brings to say thanks for the party the previous night. What Gaston has in store for these two though is handled in chilling matter-of-fact fashion as the great script and superb acting punch across the full horror of the duo's growing dilemma. Still in need of some post-production tweaking, CHAMELEON is another reason why South American cinema is being looked on with increasing respect.

    With the Blood Window strand now finished, today is all about the latest European movies screening for one day only. After a pretty gruelling agenda up until now I wanted to see some entertainment I didn't have to think about and first of note was the Spanish action comedy SPY TIME/ANACLETO: AGENT SECRETO. Perhaps a bit late in the day for a TRUE LIES style look at all things James Bond, but director Javier Ruiz Caldera's more KINGSMAN-like spoof is based on a once popular 1964 comic and really hits the funny bone in numerous places.

    Basically Imanol Arias has been hiding the fact from his waster son Quim Guttierez that he's a secret agent code named Anacleto not the absent sausage maker he always thought. When Anacleto's arch enemy Vasquez (wonderful Carlos Areces, my absolutely favourite Spanish movie star) escapes from prison and threatens to kill his son in revenge, the full facts have to be revealed to the family and his bewildered girlfriend. Given a neat retro look solely because even the intelligence bureaux suffer budget cuts and must rely on old technology, this is sometimes hilarious like when Anacleto pulls out a weapon hidden in a cow's backside, an Oddjob henchman is offed with a vibrator and a disgruntled Vasquez decorating his new evil lair with impossible to assemble IKEA furniture. While not in the OSS 117 class, and harking back more to the FLINT and MATT HELM movies than AUSTIN POWERS, it's an engaging enough romp with Almodovar star Rossy De Palma playing a double agent and some surprisingly epic stunts. Remember "the Spanish omelette is always round" to quote one of the daftest code word exchanges featured here.

    Now of course it's all eyes on Berlin, the next major festival, so I trawled all the main sales agents to see what there was to look forward to and these three titles popped out. Cate Shortland's BERLIN SYNDROME finds Australian backpacker Teresa Palmer (POINT BREAK) having a night of passion with a sexy guy she picks up in the German capital. But what initially looks like a dream romance turns sinister when it becomes clear he has no intention of ever letting her leave his apartment. NEWS FROM PLANET MARS is the latest from Dominik Moll, the HARRY, HE'S HERE TO HELP director, and concerns Phillip Mars who suddenly finds everyone around him, friends and family alike, start acting erratically and out of character. THE DARKNESS, directed by Daniel Castro Zimbron, and starring Brontis Jodorowsky relates a fable about a hermit hiding from wild beasts in a future where the Earth has stopped spinning. So plenty to look forward too and Berlin will be where the next Postcards come from.

    Until then....


    Click on the banners above to open and close.

    Javier Ruiz Caldera's SPY TIME


The FrightFest website does not use cookies to store or track any information about your visit, the fans forum does however use cookies to allow posts to be made. 
Continued use of both the website and the forum implies that you are happy with our policy

FrightFest is the registered trade mark of London FrightFest Limited.  © 2016
This web site is owned and published by London FrightFest Limited.