Maria Perez Sanz, Maddi Barber Board Locarno Match Me Title ‘This Is Not a Poem’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Two on-the-rise directors, Maria Perez Sanz (“Karen”) and Maddi Barber (“Land Underwater”), have signed on to direct episodes in “Present,” a singular exploration by Spain’s Garde of a new generation of women artists, both cineastes and writers, who broke out last decade.

Part of a broader literary-film project, “This Is Not a Poem” (“Esto no es una poesía”), “Present” (“Presentes”) is being introduced to potential co-producers and distributors by Garde founder Cristina Hergueta at Locarno’s Match Me, a networking forum which kicked off Aug. 6.

Perez Sanz will bring to the screen a text written by Cristina Morales, winner of Spain’s 2019 National Narrative Prize for “Lectura Facil.” Barber will create a film from a poem by Maria Sanchez, whose first book of poetry, “Cuaderno de campo,” was published in 2017, and has quickly run through multiple editions.

Both Perez Sanz and Barber’s films are conceived as part of a first series of arthouse shorts in “This Is Not a Poem.”

Identified by Variety in 2017 as a Spanish talent to track, Cáceres-born Perez Sanz broke through with her feature “Karen,” an imagining of the final days in Africa of Karen Blixen, author of “Out of Africa.”

Blixen was a non-conformist, so is Perez-Sanz, choosing to profile Blixen and what she stood for through her relationship with her highly efficient Somali farm manager Farah Aden rather than the dashing Hon. Denys George Finch Hatton, played by Robert Redford in the famed movie adaptation. In her newspaper articles, Morales comes through as a caustic critic of the unthinking cliches of much contemporary thought.

Showcased at the San Sebastian Festival’s 2019 Zabaltegi-Tabakalera section, Barber’s medium-feature doc “Land Underwater” – as were her shorts, 2018’s “Above 592 Meters” and 2020’s “Gorria” – charts man’s vestigial and ambivalent relationship to nature in Navarre’s Pyrenees. A rural vet, Sánchez explores her clear affinity with nature as a source of joy, a family legacy and a connection to other women writers.

“Present” will feature two more shorts from women directors, inspired by and representing the work of two more female writers, Hergueta told Variety.

Based out of Cáceres in South-West Spain, Garde has meanwhile tapped Seville’s BNV Producciones and Sarao Films (“Once Again”) to co-produce its other top Match Me project: “Horses” (“Caballos”).

Described by Garde as a “horse movie” and “experimental” doc feature, it is directed by Pedro G. Romero (“Nueve Sevillas”). It records a flamenco concert for horses that took place in the Tempietto di Bramante in Rome. At the same time, however, “it is also a reflection on our way of looking, trying to escape the anthropocentric gaze, hegemonic since the dawn of modernity, as well as a reflection on the language of cinema,” Hergueta said. The project has been well-received by those who have read it in Spain.

Garde was launched in 2017 by Hergueta, a production co-ordinator on “The Hanged Man,” by Manuel Gómez Pereira (“Between Your Legs”), and line-producer of “Los mundos sutiles,” from Eduardo Chapero-Jackson (“Sky Rojo”).

Garde’s production credits to date take in co-producing Guillermo Benet’s “Los Inocentes,” which scored a special jury mention at last November’s Seville European Film Festival. El Sur Films opened “Los Inocentes” in Spanish theaters in March. Outside Spain, it has screened as Austria’s Crossing Europe festival and Romania’s Transilvania Film Festival.

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