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San Sebastian Picks 'Park Friend,' 'Magallanes,' 'Ixcanul' For Films in Progress

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LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - MADRID - Ana Katz's anticipated "My Park Friend," Salvador del Solar's "Magallanes" and Jayro Bustamante's "Ixcanul" are three of the six titles that have made the cut for San Sebastian's 26th Films in Progress.

A bi-annual competition, taking place at March's Toulouse Cinelatino Rencontres and September's San Sebastian, Films in Progress runs Sept. 22-24, at the same time as San Sebastian's Europe-Latin America Co-Production Forum, the Spanish fests other big industry event.

With Latin American movies low on the ground at Venice, San Sebastian's double-play has established the fest as Europe's prime early fall crossroads for muscular contingents of Latin American producers and French sales agents often art-house/indie mini-major production-distribution-sales houses seeking to sell their slates to Spain and check out on the latest arthouse offerings from Latin America. Three of the directors in Films In Progress presented projects at San Sebastian's inaugural Co-Production Forum, two making Films in Progress, a sign of San Sebastian becoming a regular port-of-call for Latin America's new generation of directors, whether they have projects, pix-in-post or completed titles.

Presented by Katz at San Sebastian's first Co-Production Forum in 2012, "Friend" turns on a first-time mom who befriends another young mother in a cold and windy district park in Buenos Aires. Their friendship takes a slightly dangerous turn.

Buenos Aires' Campo Cine, owned by Nicolas Avruj and producer-director Diego Lerman whose "Refugiado" played Cannes Directors' Fortnight to an upbeat reception and sales for Memento Films Int'l., produces out of Argentina, Cordon Films out of Uruguay.

Per Katz, "maternity is a conventional issue treated in multiple TV commercials and a close-by reality seen in any street. But for cinema it's still virgin territory. 'My Park Friend' is a great opportunity to explore this very curious world."

Boasting a top-notch pan-Latin American cast, and a three-way Peru-Argentina-Colombia co-production - a sign of a project's potential playability in Latin America, "Magallanes" marks the directorial debut of actor-turned helmer Salvador del Solar, the male lead in Francisco Lombardi's Mario Vargas Llosa adaptation "Captain Pantoja and the Special Services," a springboard for Peruvian thesping talent, and very recently, "The Vanished Elephant," Javier Fuentes Leon's follow-up to Sundance 2010 World Cinema Audience Award winner "Undertow."

One of Guatemala's highest-profile young helmers after presenting the Maja Zimmermann-produced "El escuadron de la muerte," a mordant village-set comedy, at the 2012 Co-Production Forum, Bustamante will present a rough cut of "Ixcanul," about the tribulations of a 17-year-old Cachikel Mayan girl. Cuba's Pavel Giroud, helmer of "The Companion," winner of the EGEDA Best Project Award at last year's Forum, is producing "Ixcanul," structured as a Guatemala- France co-production.

Films in Progress is supported by nine Spanish companies, who give a joint Films In Progress Industry Award, covering post-production through to a DCP, subtitling and distribution in Spain. A further 22 French and European companies and institutions support the event, a sign of how it has become an integral part of the Spanish-French film scene.

Of further titles, Brazilian first-timer Aly Muritiba has flawed father-shy son drama "To My Beloved Dead," now in post, and a project at the first Forum; Catalina Saavedra ("The Maid") leads the cast of Chilean Sergio Castro's "The Mud Woman," produced by San Sebastian's Storyboard Media and Chile's Prize Producciones, about a grape-picker hoping to scrape together the funds to visit her brother in the big city; shot in Pergamino, in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentine Eugenio Canevari's "Paula" turns on a maid on a rural estate who suffers an unwanted pregnancy.

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