Spain’s Solita Films, the Madrid-based outfit of director-producer brothers José Esteban and César Esteban Alenda, has boarded “Her Ocean,” (“El Mar la Mar”), an addition to the growing canon of LGBTQ dramas now in Latin America.
Written and directed by Julián Amaru Estrada and produced by María Paz Barragán at Lima-based Final Abierto, “Her Ocean” is one of the most memorable titles among seven works at this week’s Sanfic Industria Productoras Lab, a novel pitching program and training facility for emerging, first or second-feature women producers in Latin America.
“Her Ocean” is also selected for this year’s LabGuion in Colombia and Sapcine in Cali.
Now co-developed by Solita Films, the feature project is a LGBTQ coming-of-age drama which builds to a magic realist climax. It turns on Ray, 15, gay, who helps local fishermen in his small town on the coast of Perú until, drunk at a bonfire party on the beach, he kisses his friend Jesús.
Repudiated by his family and the townsfolk, Ray escapes to vibrant jungle city Iquitos, and there finds friends and even competes in the Miss Amazonas trans beauty pageant. But COVID hits, forcing him back to his village to try to save his father, gravely ill and with no assistance from a broken health system.
“Ray finds himself in his trans transformation. Trans people are the most high-profile and valiant in the battle for LGBTQ rights,” Amaru Estrada told Variety, calling “Her Ocean” “a story of love and courage.”
He added: “Ray just looks for some friendship, some romantic love, to be loved by his family and society, like everybody, but his nature means he faces enormous barriers. His battle to smash these barriers is this film’s story, and I hope it manages to move audiences as much as ¡t does me.”
The film will use trained actors for lead roles – Ray, his father, Jesús – but real-life fishermen and Miss Amazonas contestants, giving “Her Ocean” a “real, immediate, palpable character, like a magic documentary drama,” Amaru Estrada added.
The camera will hug close to Ray, showing him in frame or using shots from his POV. It will also focus on bodies and skin tones, giving the film a strong sense of physicality, he anticipated. “Adolescence, poverty, discrimination, abandonment and pain are in no ways elegant nor simple,” he said. So visuals shouldn’t be either but rather “baroque, packed and sometimes indescifrable.”
A film industry activist, Barragán has made web series and shorts and written and directed shorts, as well as working for Ibermedia, the regional film fund and as a film critic.
Multi-prized short film directors, the Alendas’ time travel romance “Not the End,” their 2018 feature debut, scored a Spanish Academy Goya nomination and won an Asecan Award at Spain’s Málaga Festival.