Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s debut feature Clara Sola has been selected for La Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at the Cannes Film Festival. Also, Swedish co-production Amparo by Simón Mesa Soto is competing for the Camera d’Or in La Semaine de la Critique.
40-year-old Clara is believed to have a special connection to God. As a ‘healer’, she sustains a family and a village in need of hope, while she finds solace in her relationship with the natural world. After years of being controlled by her mother’s repressive care, Clara’s sexual desires are stirred by her attraction to her niece’s new boyfriend. This newly awakened force takes Clara to unexplored territory, allowing her to cross boundaries, both physical and mystical. Empowered by her self-discovery, Clara gradually frees herself from her role as ‘saint’ and begins to heal herself.
Clara Sola is a Swedish–Costa Rican–Belgian–German co-production, and will have its world première at the Cannes festival.
“We are over the moon! So many of the films I love have been shown to the world for the first time in this great section. It’s really an overwhelming honour that Clara can finally begin her journey before moving on to other places around the world,” says director Nathalie Álvarez Mesén.
Nathalie Álvarez Mesén is a Swedish screenwriter and director, with links to both Costa Rica and Sweden. She started her career in physical theatre in Costa Rica before pursuing her B.F.A. degree in Mime Acting at the Stockholm University of the Arts in Sweden. She later graduated from Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program in NYC with an M.F.A. in Film Directing/Screenwriting.
An alumna of the Berlinale Talents, TIFF Filmmaker Lab and NYFF Artist Academy, Mesén's shorts have screened at film festivals all over the world. Her short Filip won Best Film Under 15 Minutes at the 2016 Palm Springs Shortfest, and Asunder screened at the 2016 Telluride Film Festival.
Nathalie Álvarez Mesén also co-wrote Entre tú y Milagros, winner of the Orizzonti Award for Best Short at the Venice Film Festival 2020 and she is developing her second feature, The Wolf Will Tear Your Immaculate Hands, in the Torino ScriptLab 2021. For this project, Mesén received the Swedish Film Institute’s Wild Card funding in 2019, a scheme to capture unique film voices from different film education programmes, and give graduate directors a chance to start their careers soon after finishing their studies.
The lead in Clara Sola is played by award-winning Costa Rican dancer Wendy Chinchilla, here in her first film role. The film’s photography is by Sophie Winqvist Loggins (Aniara, upcoming Pleasure) and the team also includes Academy Award-nominated make-up designer Göran Lundström (Border).
Clara Sola is produced by Nima Yousefi (this year’s Producer on the Move), Hobab, alongside Resolve Media, Need Productions, Pacífica Grey, Film Capital Stockholm Fund and Laïdak Films, in co-production with Shelter Prod, Proximus, VOO-Be tv, in association with Sveriges Television and with production funding from the Swedish Film Institute, former Feature Film Commissioner Madeleine Ekman and the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. Screenplay by Mesén alongside Maria Camila Arias. International sales handled by Luxbox, with Folkets Bio distributing the film in Sweden with a domestic cinema première this autumn.
La Quinzaines des Réalisateurs (Director’s Fortnight) was established in Cannes in 1969. Some of the notable Swedish feature-length films selected over the years are Duet for Cannibals (1969) and Brother Carl (1971) by Susan Sontag, Giliap (1973) by Roy Andersson, Långt borta och nära (1976) by Marianne Ahrne, The Guardian Angel (1990) by Suzanne Osten, Play (2011) by Ruben Östlund, The Here After (2015) by Magnus von Horn and And Then We Danced (2019) by Levan Akin.
Co-production Amparo to compete in Critics’ Week
Yesterday it was announced that the Colombian–Swedish–German–Qatari co-production Amparo by first-time feature director Simón Mesa Soto has been selected for La Semaine de la Critique at the Cannes Film Festival. The film will compete for the Camera d’Or (Golden Camera) and also for the Nespresso Grand Prize for best film, as well as the Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award for best male/female actor.
After a long night shift, single mother Amparo returns home and discovers that her son Elias is missing. She soon finds out that he has been drafted during an army raid to be assigned to the front in a dangerous war zone close to the border. His fate seems set. But just a day before leaving, Amparo manages to contact a man who offers to alter Elias’s file and get him out. Against all the odds, she enters a race against time to free her son in a society led by corruption.
Simón Mesa Soto is a Colombian director who has an MA in Filmmaking from the London Film School. His graduation film Leidi (2014) won the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014. His latest short Madre (2016) was also nominated for a Palme d’Or in Cannes.
Swedish co-producers are David Herdies (Producer on the Move, Cannes Film Festival 2018) and Michael Krotkiewski, Momento Film, with support from the Swedish Film Institute, former Feature Film Commissioner Madeleine Ekman. Folkets Bio is the Swedish distributor with a planned domestic release winter 2021/2022.
The Swedish Film Institute is a collective voice for film in Sweden, and a meeting-place for experiences and insights that elevate film on all levels. We preserve and make available Sweden’s film heritage, work to educate children and young people in film and moving images, support the production, distribution and screening of valuable film, and represent Swedish film internationally. A broad diversity of narratives establishes discussions and insights that strengthen the individual and our democracy. Together, we enable more people to create, experience and be enriched by film.