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Macu Machín’s ‘The Undergrowth’ Wins Top Prize at Tenerife-Based MiradasDoc

Macu Machín’s “The Undergrowth” (“La Hojarasca”) took home the top MiradaCanaria prize at the 17th MiradasDoc, which ran March 15-22 in Tenerife, Spain.

Produced by El Viaje Films, Machin’s debut feature has been picking up accolades since its world premiere at Berlinale’s Forum, snagging Best Spanish Picture and director at the Malaga Film Festival’s Zonazine, a sidebar for edgier and sometimes smaller pics.

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The jury praised the doc for its “sensitive and evocative portrayal of three sisters and their deep bond of love for each other and their homeland.” In it, two elderly sisters join a third to hash out their shared inheritance of a plot of land as the rumble of an active volcano echoes close by.

Part of a burgeoning Canary Islands cinema, “The Undergrowth” explores questions of “identity, belonging, and the dynamics of the place where me and my family came from,” Machín told Variety.

A Special Mention in Mirada Canaria went to “Bloom,” (Helena Girón and Samuel M. Delgado, “They Carry Death”), which continues the exploration by the filmmaker duo of myth – understood as narratives shaping a society’s consciousness. Shot in grainy 16 mm and digital formats, “Bloom” is a fantasy exploration of the legend of Saint Brendan’s Island, belief in which was so strong that expeditions were mounted to find it, even though it never existed.

Described by Variety as “moving,” hybrid doc feature “Between the Revolutions” won Mirada International. It describes a (fictional) passionate friendship between two medical students in 1970s Bucharest, Iranian Zahra and Romania’s María, chronicled in the letters they write to one another in the following decade.

“On its 17th year, our festival continues to showcase thought-provoking art, providing a space for reflection amidst today’s social and political challenges. It’s important to support a program that uses documentary films to connect with the world’s need for knowledge and understanding,” said MiradasDoc festival director David Baute.

“Sergei Loznitsa’s presence at Miradasdoc brought a unique blend of reality and fiction to the screen. Known for his exceptional film collections, Loznitsa encouraged us to explore history sincerely, seeing it as a guide to the future,” he said of the Ukrainian filmmaker who was awarded the festival’s Personal Vision Award in recognition of his outstanding career.

In a talk he gave at the fest, Loznitsa revealed that he was working on a film about current events in Ukraine, which will be released next year. Known for his meticulous work with archival footage, he explained how he finds and selects this material: “It depends on the film; most of the archive comes from the Russian state, there is a lot of well-preserved material, allowing for good research.”

The MiradasDoc Market, which took place March 20 -22, has cemented its position as a vital space for Latin American and for African cinema, given the Canary Islands’ proximity to the African continent.

Said MiradasDoc Market head, Lara Sousa: “Just like the films presented at the festival, the projects beginning their development in our labs serve as unique lifeboats in contemporary audiovisual reality. They propose cinema not just as entertainment but as a substantial space for knowledge and enrichment of the viewer.”

“MiradasDoc Market consolidates itself as a meeting point for Southern audiovisual projects, two regions very close to the Canary Islands: Africa and Latin America, which articulate a language of documentary cinema that is distinct and original,” she added.

The market also hosted the One to One Tenerife networking event, organized by the Tenerife Film Commission where over 400 business meetings were held, according to the market.

Concha Díaz, coordinator of the Tenerife Film Commission, stressed the importance of MiradasDoc Market as a platform for the development of documentary cinema: “Attending MiradasDoc Market is always a very good meeting point to discover the projects of local production companies, and also to publicize the financing opportunities and the assistance we can provide from the Film Commission to projects that come to the festival.”

Given the Canary Islands’ temperate climate, generous incentives (45%-54% deductions rates for shoots capped at €36 million ($39 million) for a feature and €18 million ($19.5 million) per single TV episode), a fast-growing creative sector and infrastructure, the archipelago has already been attracting several high-profile projects.

MiradasDoc Winners:

Mirada Canaria Prize

“The Undergrowth,” (“La Hojarasca,” Macu Machín, Canary Islands)

Special Mention: “Bloom,” (Helena Girón and Samuel Delgado)

Mirada International

“Between Revolutions,” Vlad Petri

Best DocSur Documentary

“Los Vencedores,” Pablo Aparo

MiradasDoc Market Prizes:

Afrolatam Lab:

“Le Parcours,” (Arice Siapi, France, Cameroon)

Preciosa Media

“Retoños del Zapoteco,” (Mónica Martínez Ruiz, Mexico)

Sheffield

“Le Parcours,” (Arice Siapi, France, Cameroon)

Subbabel

“In My Father’s House,” (Rachida El Garani, Belgium, Morocco)

Impronta

“She’s Hard Like a Brick,” (Rogena Tarek, Egypt)

DOCSP

“Os Dez Terrenos Do Meu Pai,” (Liliana Sulzbach, Brazil)

DOCSMX

“Viscitudes de la Luz,” (Marcel Beltrán, Brazil, Cuba)

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