In what marks the most ambitious film from Peru’s leading producer Tondero and, most likely, Peruvian cinema in recent times, Pedro Almodóvar’s El Deseo, Infinity Hill (“Argentina 1985”) and Tondero have joined forces to co-produce a drama based on the hostage crisis that took place at the Japanese embassy in Lima in 1996.
El Deseo executive producer Esther Garcia and Infinity Hill co-founder/chief creative officer Axel Kuschevatzky were in Lima to attend Tondero’s 15th anniversary festivities and for Garcia to receive a tribute from the ongoing 27th Lima Film Festival, which runs Aug. 10-18.
The still-untitled project has been co-written by Spain’s Alicia Luna and Peru’s Santiago Roncagliolio, Patricia Romero and Lima Film Fest artistic director Josué Mendez who together spent some four years delving into the facts behind the crisis that drew massive international attention at the time.
The incident spawned several works in literature and film. Author Ann Patchett’s lauded “Bel Canto” is roughly based on the incident and Paul Weitz’s film adaptation of the book, starring Julianne Moore and Ken Watanabe, came out in 2018. Netflix streams Peruvian documentary “Rehenes.”
“We’re focusing on what really happened at the embassy,” said Kuschevatzky who has co-produced three acclaimed films with El Deseo: “Wild Tales,” “El Clan” and “El Angel,” the last two also fact-based.
Garcia said: “Ever since Javier Camara introduced me to Miguel eight years ago, we’ve been looking for something to make together. We’d been developing several projects together but this one seemed the most viable.” “It features an international set of players, which makes it easy to cast,” she added. “It was a matter of getting our planets aligned,” Kuschevatzky concurred.
The crisis begun when members of the rebel group Túpac Amaru infiltrated the Japanese embassy in Peru and took some 800 people hostage, among them diplomats, government officials, businessmen, and high-ranking military officials, who were gathered there for a social event.
“This multi-layered story is seen from the points of view of three key characters,” said Valladares.
“Aside from touching on the socio-political aspect of the story, we’ll be honing in on the personal stories and the relationships that formed among the hostages, the staff, and the rebels,” noted Garcia who praised Valladares for being one of the few producers in Peru who, despite his youth, has achieved great local box office success with his movies and continues to seek out international alliances.
Valladares, who made his first film at 19, is now 39. “In a country mostly devoid of public funding, he found ways to make films in Peru,” said Kuschevatzky who also praised Garcia for her producing cred. “When faced with situations at work, I always ask myself, what would Esther do?” he mused.
Tondero recently opened a Colombian outpost with partners with whom it is developing two projects to date: “Un lugar para Ramon,” directed by Peru’s Salvador del Solar and starring Colombian actor Juan Pablo Urrego (Fernando Trueba’s “Memories of My Father”) and Valladares’ directorial debut, the teen romance “Locos de amor: mi primer amor.”
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