Hubert Bals Fund titles at the Berlinale 2023
16 February 2023
Sol, a seven-year-old girl, gets ready for Tona’s 40th birthday party, her father, who suffers from a terminal illness. The dual ritual of a birthday celebration and farewell party is the setting for Tótem, Mexican filmmaker Lila Avilés’s second feature, which has its world premiere in competition at the 2023 Berlinale. Her breakthrough debut The Chambermaid was Mexico’s submission to the Oscars in 2020, before Tótem won production funds through the HBF+Europe: Minority Co-production Support scheme in 2020.
After five different HBF-supported projects were presented across the IFFR 2023 programme, the year’s premieres continue in Berlin which screens three HBF-backed projects from Latin America including Tótem in competition.
Film still: Tótem
Film still: El rostro de la medusa
Film still: O estranho
Film still: O estranho
O estranho (The Intrusion) is the second joint project by Brazilian filmmakers Flora Dias and Juruna Mallon and has its world premiere in Forum. Set in Brazil’s biggest airport, Guarulhos International near São Paulo, the film follows a member of the ground staff whose indigenous roots lie quite literally beneath the tarmac. The airport was built on indigenous territory and the film deals with the traces of the past that the asphalt couldn’t bury – “a minimal form of archaeology.”
After funding from the HBF+Europe scheme, the film’s finishing touches were applied following selection for the IFFR Pro Darkroom, a new addition to the industry programme at IFFR 2023 which presented work-in-progress screenings of HBF and CineMart supported titles.
One morning, at the outset of the second feature and first fiction film by Argentinian Melisa Liebenthal, protagonist Marina discovers her face has changed completely. El rostro de la medusa (The Face of the Jellyfish) premiered at Mar del Plata and now has its international premiere in the Forum programme at Berlin. Marina’s inability to recognise herself is “the fantastical, absurdist starting point for an inquiry about identity” that plays with faces, images and forms.
European Film Market
Four IFFR-backed projects seek further connections at the Berlinale Co-Production Market. Amoeba by Singaporean director Siyou Tan, Los Ángeles directed by Chileans Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León as well as The Burning Giants by Thai director Phuttiphong Aroonpheng, are selected for the market, as well as South African Thati Pele’s Brace Yourself. The latter two titles participate in the Rotterdam-Berlinale Express following their CineMart selection at IFFR 2023.
O estranho at IFFR Pro Darkroom