Paris-based sales agent Luxbox has acquired world sales rights to “Dos Estaciones” which will world premiere in World Cinema Dramatic Competition at this month’s Sundance Festival.
Produced by Mexico’s Sin Sitio Cine in co-production with France’s In Vivo Films and the U.S., “Dos Estaciones” marks the feature debut of Juan Pablo González, co-director of the Film Directing program at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) whose shorts have won at Slamdance (“The Solitude of Memory,” 2014) and New Orleans (“La Espera,” 2016).
Co-written with Ana Isabel Fernández and Ilana Coleman (“The Inventory”), “Dos Estaciones” pays tribute to Mexico’s artisanal tequila makers, a dying breed as they are bought up by foreign corporations.
In striking parallel and contrast, the feature underscores the meticulous craftsmanship and artistic ambition of art films emerging from Mexico and the rest of Latin America which question received wisdom and cliches, offering an alternative narrative.
They are made, however, by Latin American professionals in collaboration with enlightened U.S. and European film institutions and professionals: “Dos Estaciones” producer Jamie Gonçalves was a Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellow in 2018, for instance.
“Dos Estaciones” is set in the cosily rolling Jalisco Highlands
where 50-year-old Maria García (Teresa Sánchez, “The Chambermaid”), the resolute owner of ranch Dos Estaciones is the final representative of generations of Mexican-owned tequila plants, the remainder of which have been bought up by U.S. corporations.
Already suffering dire straits, when a plague destroys the agave crop and rains floods the factory, Maria is forced to desperate measures to save her business, the community’s main source of wealth and local pride.
The new feature is made by a director, and largely cast and crew who come from the region, González being born and raised in Atotonilco, Guanajuato. It tells. The film drinks in the extraordinary landscapes of the highlands and their vast Mexican skies.
But “Dos Estaciones” is also an attempt to cut through regional stereotypes – agave fields, tequila industry, mariachi bands, deep conservatism – to build a nuanced portrait of the forces now shaping the region, for better and worse.
These includes larger sexual freedoms and greater social mobility. Several major characters played by non-professionals include genderqueer Tatín, in real life from a neighbouring village to Atotonilco, who takes on the fictional role of the owner of a thriving hairdressing salon.
“The central arc and character of María is inspired by several female business owners in Atotonilco el Alto, who have attained prominence in a broadly macho culture, alongside my parents’ own experience as tequila ranchers confronting major economic crisis in Mexico, alongside today’s looming and ongoing corporate takeover,” said González.
“The urgency of the film is simple: the last of the artisanal tequileros are going away. It’s our belief that we can shape appreciation for the exceptional quality of artisanal tequila, so that people may question their mass consumed tequilas (think Clooney, Kardashian, The Rock etc.),” he continued.
“We are thrilled to be back at the winters’ markets with this assertive and distinctive object of cinema,” said Hédi Zardi, Luxbox co-founder.
“In haunting colorful landscapes and captivating authentic location, we witness the power of foreign corporation steamrollers crushing the resistance of an honest fighting woman. The film questions the boundaries of this independence as well as the assertion of her gender in a very conservative environment,” he added.
Lensed by DP Gerardo Guerra, whose credits include 2021 Guadalajara Festival hit “Martínez,” “Dos Estaciones” is produced by Sin Sitio Cine founders Gonçalves and Coleman, Bruna Haddad (“La Hija de Todas Las Rabias”) and Makena Buchanan.
The film is executive produced by Matthew Perniciaro who recently released three documentaries at the 2020 Sundance Festival: “The Fight,” “The Truffle Hunters” and “Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen.”