Monday 2 October 2023

Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s feature debut, Clara Sola, ready for the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight

The new feature, a Swedish-US-Costa Rican-Belgian-German co-production, will star Costa Rican dancer Wendy Chinchilla in the lead role

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Q ENTERTAINMENT (CINEUROPA) Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s debut feature, Clara Sola, is ready to take part in this year’s Directors’ Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival (6-17 July).

Before taking on her new project, the helmer, an alumna of Berlinale Talents, the TIFF Filmmaker Lab and the NYFF Artist Academy, made several shorts that were screened at film festivals all over the world.

Wendy Chinchilla in Clara Sola (© Hobab)

Her short Filip won Best Film Under 15 Minutes at the 2016 Palm Springs Shortfest, whilst Asunder screened at the 2016 Telluride Film Festival. She also co-wrote Entre tú y Milagros, winner of the Orizzonti Award for Best Short at last year’s Venice Film Festival.

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The story of Clara Sola, penned by the director and Maria Camila Arias, revolves around the titular 40-year-old woman (played by award-winning Costa Rican dancer Wendy Chinchilla), who 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 a “saint” and begins to heal herself.

The film’s crew on the creative side includes DoP Sophie Winqvist Loggins (Aniara, Pleasure) and Academy Award-nominated make-up designer Göran Lundström (the TV series True Detective, Border).

Clara Sola was produced by Nima Yousefi for Sweden’s Hobab, alongside Resolve Media (USA), Belgium’s Need Productions, Costa Rica’s Pacífica Grey, Sweden’s Film Capital Stockholm Fund and German outfit Laïdak Films, in co-production with Belgium’s Shelter Prod, Proximus, VOO-Be TV, in association with SVT, and with backing from the Swedish Film Institute and the Swedish Arts Grants Committee.

Luxbox is in charge of its world sales, whilst Folkets Bio will distribute the film in Swedish cinemas later this autumn. For this project, Álvarez Mesén benefited from the support of Wild Card, a special scheme set up by the Swedish Film Institute to capture unique voices from different film education programs, and to give graduate directors a chance to kick off their careers soon after finishing their studies.

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