Barbara Sarasola-Day on ‘White Blood’ a Cannes’ ACID Argentine Highlight

CANNES  —   Programmed by France’s Association for the Diffusion of Independent Cinema, Cannes’ ACID section turned its spotlight this year on Argentine cinema.

As access to talent – creative and crews – becomes a predominant challenge for producers worldwide, given the huge production demand driven by global platforms, the radar can hardly be spread too wide in search of young emerging writer-directors Rich in talent and benefiting from a distinguished national cinema heritage, Argentina’s independent sector faces, however, the immediate challenge of finding an audience in and outside its domestic market. ACID,  a parallel section at Cannes, provided an invaluable international platform.

One of three features in its Argentine focus, “Sangre blanca” (“White Blood”) marks the sophomore feature of Barbara Sarasola-Day (“Belayed”). It also underscores how much upscale foreign-language cinema is developing a genre edge.

A drug trade-thriller and father-daughter drama, it turns on Martina (Eva De Dominici) who becomes a drug mule, crossing the Bolivia-Argentina border with partner Manuel, Holing up in a hotel, Manuel dies when the cocaine capsules explode inside his body. Under pressure from the traffickers. Martina seeks help from her father, whom she has never met.

Sold by Pascual Condito’s Primer Plano, “White Blood” is produced by Federico Eibuszyc and Sarasola-Day’s own Pucará Cine, lead producers on Benjamin Naishtat’s “Rojo,” one of the best-received Latin  American movies of last year, as well as Varsovia Films, co-headed by Diego Dubcovsky whose credits include “The Motorcycle Diaries” and Cesc Gay’s “Truman.”

The ACID Argentina focus was organized in partnership with Argentina’s PCI Association of Argentine Film Directors. Variety chatted to Sarasola-Day.

Frontiers have often proved extremely attractive for stories. What did you find of inspiration in them for “White Blood”?

I’m interested in borders in general: They’re territories of tension, negotiation and meeting but, above all, the materialization of an imaginary limit. I wanted “White Blood” to be a film about borders; the geographical space in which the film occurs obviously, but also taking to the the limit a father-daughter relationship, as well as playing with the border between drama and genre.

Do you feel it’s a major departure compared to “Belated”?

With this film, I moved away from “Belated.” But at the same time there are certain questions that are once again present. “White Blood” is a drug-thriller, but the interest in dysfunctional familial relationships is there too. I was interested in digging into a genre, trying something different from what I’ve already done. I don’t know whether to think about it as evolution or more a necessity to try something different to what I’ve done. I think it has more to do with curiosity and a thirst for adventure.

At Cannes, Argentina became an official member of European co-production fund Eurimages. What could be the impact on independent production in Argentina?

The incorporation of Argentina into Eurimages is very encouraging and an important step to those of us who are used to making international co-productions. In Argentina co-productions with Europe are already quite frequent, so this will be a great help and open up the possibility of coproducing with countries with which we previously didn’t have opportunities or specific [bilateral] pacts.

What are you working on now?

I’m researching and writing a new project. The working title is “Little War.” It’s about a family of English origin, mostly made up of women, living in Salta, northern Argentina, in 1982, during the Falklands War.

And as a producer?

Wearing my producer’s hat, along with Federico Eibusyzc, my partner at our production company, we’re working on Benjamin Naishtat’s new project, “The Copper Rose.” It’s an adaptation of Roberto Arlt’s “The Seven Madmen”.

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