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Berlin Winner Manuel Abramovich’s “Pornomelancholia” Taps French Funding (EXCLUSIVE)

Variety — John Hopewell

MEXICO CITY — Argentina’s Manuel Abramovich, a 2019 Berlinale Silver Bear winner for “Blue Boy,” has tapped French funding for its follow-up, “Pornomelancholia,” one of the highest-profile projects at Mexico’s Los Cabos Film Festival, which kicks off today with a gala screening of “The Irishman,”

Financing from the Region Nouvelle-Aquitaine, a building film-TV hub in South West France, has been secured by the film’s French co-producer, David Hurst at Dublin Films, which is based out of Bordeaux.

As equity finance from production partners has come to dominate over pre-sales in art film financing, and bring far more funding to the table, the number of producers involved on a project is often a good sign of not only its scale but excitement and perceived potential.

Lead produced by Gema Juárez Allen at Argentina’s Gema Films (“Lina de Lima,” “Private Fiction”), “Pornomelanholia” is also co-produced by Rachel Daisy Ellis at Brazil’s Desvia, co-writer and producer of Gabriel Mascaro’s Sundance hit “Divine Love” and co-producer of Benjamin Nashtat’s “Rojo.” Martha Orozco, producer of “Allende. mi Abuelo Allende,” Cannes first Loeil d’Or winner for best documentary, has boarded the film as its Mexican co-producer.

“Pornomelancholia” turns on sex influencer Lalo, who lives in a mountains in Mexico’s south, and is a sex influencer. He is also HIV positive.

Reflecting on “the limits of intimacy in an era where the day-to-day and subjectivity have become a show for the gaze of others,” said Abramovich in a logline, Lalo mopes in real life at his existential void.

“Lalo, as we all do, creates a persona for his virtual audience. He lives this virtuality,” Abramovich said. “But Lalo also takes a step further bringing his sexuality and his body to a virtual life, as if his desire was rather being seen than the actual pleasure.”

Even when it comes to confessing his most intimate pain to the person he loves most – his mother – he hesitates about different ways of representing it.

“Pornomelancholia” is not a film about pornography: it’s a film about how we deal with the gaze of others, “Abramovich has said.

Written by Abramovich, the feature marks the second part of  a trilogy about how people use their bodies as a source of income.

The first, the 17-minute “Blue Boy,” a record of a group of sex workers in a gay neighborhood of Berlin who build characters to seduce customers, won best short at his year’s Berlinale.

Chosen for the Tabakalera-San Sebastian Festival’s highly selective Ikusmira Berriak development program, “Pornomelancholia” won the Best Project Prize at Switzerland’s  Visions du Réel documentary film festival, and has already tapped funding from the City of Buenos Aires and Ancine.

“Pornomelancholia” is the latest film from one of Argentina’s fastest rising auteurs, who broke out with his second feature, military doc “Soldado,” a fest favorite, winning the Fipresci Prize at the 2017 Mar del Plata Film Festival.

“My films explore theatricality in everyday life. I see reality as a big mise-en- scène, almost like a theatre play,” Abramovich write in a director’s statement.

He added: “I’m interested in a filmmaking process that’s opposite to a fiction film in which the actors have to be as natural as possible to feel realistic: I like to work with reality to highlight these situations in which reality seems to have become a fiction.”

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