BENIGNO CRUZ (Selected at the Berlinale Coproduction Market 2017)
On a small farm deep in the Venezuelan countryside, Benigno is a tough old-timer living alone on his overgrown, aging estate. He wants to sell the land he’s worked all his life in order to share the proceedings with his grown-up children – Perucho and Mabel - as a chance to re-establish contact with them, hoping to achieve peace and find warmth and care for his later years. The family have not been in touch since the tragic death of their mother Felicia, who years ago had been killed by criminals to whom Benigno had become indebted to during time of great national strife.
Benigno embarks on a journey through Venezuela to meet Perucho and Mabel. The first stop is at the Venezuelan Andes, in the very same town where Felicia was born. Perucho works as the town’s policeman; he’s now married and has a kid, Benigno’s first and only grandson. When Benigno tells Perucho about the sale and suggests his son could buy a little house in town, Perucho is blunt in admitting that he will take the money, but doesn’t want Benigno living close to his family. Benigno then travels to Caracas in search of Mabel. After spending a day looking for her around the city, he discovers Mabel won’t talk to him. He is not even given the chance to tell her about the sale.
Beaten, Benigno heads back home but the bus he is traveling on is hijacked. Benigno confronts the men, who are abusing a young woman, Amalia. He manages to kill the aggressors but gets badly injured, barely surviving. Amalia takes him to the hospital, where she cares for him, helping to oversee his recovery. Once he's in better shape, Amalia and her young son Edmundo follow Benigno back to the farm. Soon they become a makeshift family.
Perucho and Mabel return to the farm in search of Benigno. They wish to close the deal Benigno initially offered. But Benigno has already changed his mind; he won't sell anymore. Nonetheless, as they reunite and finally discuss the past, they discover that, in spite of the bloodshed and grief, they are still a family.
THE MERMAID KINGDOM, in postproduction
Set in the fishing village of Puerto Cabezas, known by locals as being a haven for English pirates who used the region for refuge, the area is made up of mostly the indigenous Miskito community. In 1990, when the fishing industry opened the waters to fishing vessels equipped with compressed air tanks, the Miskito fisherman were able to dive deeper to hunt for lobster. But suddenly they began to get sick and die in the water due to decompression sickness. Finding no explanation for a disease never before seen by the community, the old men in the village concluded that they had angered the Mermaid to catch lobster, what the community needs to live. The Miskito had upset the balance, breaking their paradise and turning it into their own hell. This documentary records a year in this fisherman town.
EISENSTEIN IN GUANAJUATO
The venerated filmmaker Eisenstein is comparable in talent, insight and wisdom, with the likes of Shakespeare or Beethoven; there are few - if any - directors who can be elevated to such heights. On the back of his revolutionary film Battleship Potemkin, he was celebrated around the world, and invited to the US. Ultimately rejected by Hollywood and maliciously maligned by conservative Americans, Eisenstein traveled to Mexico in 1931 to consider a film privately funded by American pro-Communist sympathizers, headed by the American writer Upton Sinclair. Eisenstein's sensual Mexican experience appears to have been pivotal in his life and film career - a significant hinge between the early successes of Strike, Battleship Potemkin, and October, which made him a world-renowned figure, and his hesitant later career with Alexander Nevsky, Ivan the Terrible and The Boyar's Plot.