Patra Spanou Film Acquires Bafici Title ‘The Pleasure Is Mine,’ Shares First-Look Teaser While Snagging Chilean Neo-Western ‘Bitter Gold’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Patra Spanou Film Acquires Bafici Title ‘The Pleasure Is Mine,’ Shares First-Look Teaser While Snagging Chilean Neo-Western ‘Bitter Gold’ (EXCLUSIVE)

German sales outfit Patra Spanou Film (“Blue Moon”) has acquired international rights to “The Pleasure Is Mine” (“El Placer Es Mío”), the debut feature from Brazilian-born screenwriter and director Sacha Amaral, whose prior efforts on short “Billy Boy” earned him a slot at the Cannes Cinéfondation program in 2021.

The boutique sales agency has also shared an exclusive first-look teaser with Variety ahead of the drama’s premiere in international competition at this year’s Bafici in Buenos Aires, running April 17-28.

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“Films from Argentina have been ruling the arthouse film scene for decades, and talents like Sacha Amaral are to thank for this. With ‘The Pleasure Is Mine,’ he created characters and places of raw beauty, intense and rich dialogues and a main character whose charm – despite his flaws – is irresistible,” Spanou told Variety.

“Audiences from all over the world can engage in the story of this young person, navigating his life without a compass, moving from one bed to another, missing one in a place he could call home,” she added.

In the film, Max Suen (“Supernova”) plays Antonio, a small-time drug pusher whose lackadaisical predilections leave him languishing in the city, spending countless hours traversing the pavement in search of motivation, wiling away the hours so as not to succumb to his unconventional home life.

His morals tossed aside, he employs streetside charisma to conjure sexual relations with his laundry list of clientele, attempting vacant intimacy and afterwards pilfering their mementos and valuables.

Amaral, who’s set up a fruitful creative homebase in Argentina, achieves a searing, slow-motion portrait of hedonism and self-discovery where characters are allowed to sink fully into their authentic nature without the need for atonement.

“I chose not to seek redemption for the characters or justify their flaws because I wanted to portray the complexity and authenticity of the human condition. I believe that we all have our lights and shadows, our virtues and flaws, and it is precisely that imperfection that makes us human. By allowing the characters to be vulnerable and fallible (and sometimes unreliable), the story gains an authenticity that I believe resonates with the audience,” Amaral told Variety.

“Additionally, by not attempting to redeem my characters, the film avoids moralization and instead focuses on exploring the emotional and psychological complexities of its protagonists. It sounds strange, but this is what allows viewers to identify with the characters and immerse themselves in the story in a deeper and more reflective way. Ultimately, I hope that this narrative decision has contributed to creating a more honest and resonant cinematic experience,” he added.

Produced by Agustin Gagliardi at Argentina’s Gentil Cine (“Hace Mucho Que No Duermo”), Romain Bent at Paris-based Protest Studios (“Huit”) alongside France’s Frank Thoraval and Ricardo Gonçalves at Brazil’s Quadrophenia Films, the plot additionally explores the subtle comfort of clandestine and half-anonymous relations, as the protagonist slinks from one encounter to the next.

The fluidity of his trysts imparts an honest depiction of life without bounds and fleshes out Antonio’s idiosyncrasies, touching on relationships that have shaped his experience, those that have kept him from the trappings of traditional intimacy.

“The importance of creating a film focused on unconventional and unromantic dynamics lies in showcasing the diversity of human experiences and challenging established norms for romantic and conventional relationships. I aimed to explore how these dynamics can be simultaneously comforting, unsettling, and fascinating, and how they can serve as tools for coping with the lack of love and emotional connection at certain times in life,” Amaral explained.

“To ensure that these dynamics occupied a significant space on screen, I focused on developing my characters and their relationships authentically and comprehensively. I also made sure that these dynamics were organically integrated into the overall plot of the film, allowing them to occupy as much space as any other aspect of the story. Ultimately, my challenge was to present these dynamics free of preconceptions and prejudices, understanding that there is not only one way to relate or love, but several. Therefore, I gave space to other ways and explored different types of love, as I believe they are possible,” he concluded.

The teaser opens on Antonio’s playful and vaguely tender yet atypical relationship with his mother, as they rest in her bed sharing a joint. Scenes then go on to glimpse, in quick succession, his unique brand of flexible sentiment. He cruises the concrete by motorbike and convenes with numerous willing and wanton acquaintances before the title appears boldly across the screen.

Katja Alemann (“La Última Mirada”), Sofía Palomino (“Los Del Suelo”), José Vicente Orozco (“Plurabelle”) and Anabella Bacigalupo (“Rice”) also star in this film depicting affection from the trenches, where the protagonist’s deep detachment is shot intimately.

Santa Distribución (“Pornomelancolía”) will release the film in Argentina.

“Bitter Gold”

In addition to latching on tight to “The Pleasure Is Mine” Spanou snapped-up rights to Chile’s “Bitter Gold,” (“Oro Amargo”), the second feature from director Juan Olea (“El Cordero”).

The film takes place in the Atacama desert, where Pacífico runs an underground mining endeavor. Establishing shots that paint sweeping and vast portraits of the desolate, unforgiving terrain come courtesy ofSergio Armstrong, who previously collaborated on Pablo Larraín titles “Ema,” “Neruda,” and “No.”

After Pacífico (Francisco Melo) is  injured, his daughter Carola (Katalina Sánchez) sets out to anchor the surly crew. Shoved abruptly into navigating a dangerous underworld of greed, misogyny and veiled threats, her plans to secure her future and keep her father’s clandestine mining project afloat are on the line.

“This project began to be written 10 years ago. My lifelong partner, Cristóbal Zapata, saw a news item on television about a mine that was operated exclusively by women, something very strange because mining in Chile has always been very male. Cristóbal convinced me and screenwriter Nicolás Wellmann to travel to the desert and research the culture and way of life behind artisanal mining, and that’s how we wrote the first version of the script,” Olea told Variety.

Bitter Gold
Bitter Gold

“Years after Nicolás’ death, together with producers and screenwriters Francisco Hervé and Moisés Sepúlveda, we took up the project again and gave the story a new concern, introducing the neo-Western genre and raising the stakes of the plot. I’ve been involved in this project for many years, aiming to tell a story that talks about female empowerment in a totally adverse universe,” he added.

An intimidating, weathered workforce makes for bristling confrontation as Caro learns to step into her inherited power. With all the trappings of a teenager, headstrong and determined, she slowly commands respect with a terse yet pliable drive. Through folly and fortitude she earns her stripes and asserts dominance while solidifying her presence. All at once,  she’s the head of the family hustle.

“Small-scale mining in Chile has always been carried out by men, women aren’t welcome. The centuries-old belief in this trade is that women bring bad luck. It’s believed that if a woman enters the mine, accidents can happen and the mine will cease to be productive,” Olea explained.

“By putting a girl in this context we were able to question this patriarchal culture and see how this is changing in the present. A girl from one day to the next has to be in charge of a group of miners and has to fight to be respected. From this starting point, other interesting themes emerge. Carola is not prepared to carry out this mission and her empowerment is part of her growth as a person,” Olea concluded.

A double-crossing coming-of-age tale, the film was produced by Francisco Hervé, Moisés Sepúlveda, Daniela Raviola and Felipe Egaña at Chile’s blistering arthouse operation Juntos Films (“El Otro”) alongside Cristóbal Zapata at Santiago-based La Santé Films (“Martín, el hombre y la leyenda”), Tom Schreiber at Germany’s Plotlessfilm (“It’s Quiet Here”), Virginia Bogliolo at Uruguay outfit Tarkiofilm (“Straight to VHS”) and Juan Bernardo González at Mexico’s Whisky Content.

“Bitter Gold” is expected to see a national release by New Century Films this autumn. Michael Silva (“Neruda”), Daniel Antivilo (“Hiltons”), Moisés Angulo (“La Cacería: Las Niñas de Alto Hospicio”) and Carlos Donoso round out the cast.

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