The organizers of this year’s Open Doors Producers’ Lab, which spotlights emerging creative producers with projects in development, selected their participants from the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) territories of Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Peru and Saint Lucia. “The most important factor is that people from underrepresented countries, who are at an early stage in their careers, have access to the pool of knowledge and can learn,” says Zsuzsi Bankuti, Acting Director of Open Doors.
High levels of training, education, interaction and collaboration await participants for the program, which kicks off as part of the Open Doors Stream and will continue throughout the year through workshops and initiatives such as the Open Doors ToolBox online resource platform, advisory hotline and producer advisory services.
“The idea is to bring together people who have very different energies, who we believe can work together and bring something new and good to the international stage,” notes Bankuti.
Participants in this year’s Lab include Ecuadorian producer Daniela Fuentes Moncado, who arrives in search of a European co-producer for her project ÑUSTA (via production banner Epopeya, founded in 2017 by Maria Angeles Palacios).
“We want to enter the European market and I hope to find other projects to collaborate with after the Lab,” says Fuentes. “We are a country of incredible female directors, but we still lack the support of national institutions that understand that our cinematography is dignified and that the creative sector can not only contribute to our economy, but also transform our society.”
Likewise, Haitian producer, writer, and activist Gilbert Mirambeau Jr hopes to start building an industry in Haiti, a country plagued by political, economic, and social crises with no public or private funding, no film school, and a gang culture. prolific. “I hope we can build a bridge between Haiti and other countries, and with industry professionals in general,” says Mirambeau Jr, who founded Muska Films in 2015 in Haiti after a stint in the world of Canadian business.
For Jamaica’s Nadean Rawlins, the challenge is access to finance, especially development money. “In Jamaica, filmmakers have limited access to international funding,” says Rawlins. Private financing is usually the means by which films are made in the territory, which also poses problems due to the lack of returns for private investors.
Elsewhere, Michelle Serieux of Saint Lucia has benefited from creative development support from the Sundance Institute and the Tribeca Film Institute, among others. Through the Imagine Caribbean banner, it aims to bring projects that address social justice issues specific to the socio-cultural tapestry of the Caribbean.
Other participants include Guatemalan writer, director and producer Camila Urrutia, who for 15 years has shared the stories of Guatemalan women on screen through her Camaleon films, which have a strong focus on gender and environmental justice. His productions include the first feature Gunpowder Heart, which was selected for festivals including the Latin American Film Festival of Huelva in 2019.
Peruvian documentary producer Illari Orccottoma arrives after producing her feature debut Diogenes, a co-production with La Selva Cine (Colombia) and Dublin Films (France). And Costa Rica’s Karolina Hernandez Chaves is also in international form, having attended several labs including Rotterdam and Panama and gaining support from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Films Program in 2021. Hernandez Chaves is developing Natalia Solorzano’s feature documentary Space is a monstrous animal (El Espacio Es Un Animal Monstruoso) through his company Dos Sentidos.
Maria Felix Morales Lotz, a graduate of the Cuban film school and originally from Nicaragua, is also in the laboratory to obtain international partners for Neona queer film set in Paraguay that she is producing under her Asertiva banner.
For Ricardo B’atz’ from El Salvador, the Lab offers the opportunity to represent a country without production funds, without film schools and without policies or institutions to develop local cinema. “Some people studied abroad while others, like me, learned on the job,” says B’atz’. “I hope to meet filmmakers from all over the world, share with them and learn from them.”