Having established herself as one of the world’s few Arctic Circle feature film producers, setting up shop in Tromsø, Norway, former Mer Films production executive Elisa Fernanda Pirir is launching her own production company, Star, backing productions from Morocco’s Nabil Ayuch and Colombia’s Juan. Carlos Arango, among others, he also developed his first title by Sami Pratibha.
Born in Guatemala, Piri stars alongside Christine Ann Scaret in the award-winning film “Villagers and Vagabonds” (2020), co-produced “Aswang” (2019) and is set to premiere in “Not That Kind of Guy” (2022).
Born in Guatemala but moved to northern Norway in 2007, Pirir Mer joined the film, Jorunn Myklebust Syversen’s “Disco”, Eskil Vogt’s “The Innocents” and Ole Giæver’s “Ellos eatnu – Let the River Flow”. Behind was the company, which plays in the Nordic competition. This year’s Gothenburg Film Festival. Mer also co-produced Jonas Poeh Rasmussen’s Oscar-nominated documentary “Flea.”
In Mer Films, where Piri led non-European co-productions, TV and its talent shows, he reached out to his native Latin America, co-producing Cirro Guerra and Cristina Gallego’s directorial Fortnite hit “Birds of Passage” and co-producing Laura Mora’s San Sebastián. and Zurich’s top prize-winner “Kings of the World” and Emiliza’s Scarnulite doc feature “Burial,” which played Vision du Real and Hot Dogs.
Star seems set to continue this bold line in international co-productions. Star’s First Slate:
Staer is co-producing “Touda,” a feature film by Ayuch (“Ali Zaoua,” “Horses of God,” “Casablanca Beats”), the leading Moroccan filmmaker, set at his Casablanca production house, Ali ‘N Productions.
Bringing to the table Ayuch’s keen sense of power dynamics and love and frustration for her homeland, it introduces 35-year-old Touda, a Sheikh traditional singer performing in dingy bars while struggling to raise her deaf-mute son. As a 2022 Sørfond jury noted, awarding the film a grant, Touda’s voice is heard and appreciated, but not respected.
‘Where the River Begins’
Lead produced by Paula Pérez Nieto at Colombia’s Inerica Films, “Where the River Begins” is a jungle-set relationship drama and weighs in between an Mbera woman and a young white gang member. This marks the third feature from Colombian auteur Arango, director of Cannes’ 2012 Un Certain Regard title “La Playa DC” and the multi-awarded “X500.”
‘Call from Moscow’
A first-up on the slate of titles, it had its world premiere at the Berlinale Forum in February. Featuring the debut feature of Cuban Luis Alejandro Yero, the doc introduces four young Cubans, currently dozing in a Moscow prefab housing estate, designed as a refugee transit stop. As Russia invades Ukraine, their phone calls show how their views change radically.
‘The nights still smell of gunpowder’
Produced by Mozambique’s 16mm Films, France’s Ida Ida, Germany’s Casque Films, Portugal’s Duplessena and Starr, the film sees director Inadelso Cosa return to his home village where residents are still haunted by memories of Mozambique’s bloody civil war. The film is supported by IDFA’s Bertha Fund, HotDocs Blue Ice and Marrakech Festival’s Atlas Workshops.
A Sami film driver
At one and the same time, Starr continues to be one of the drivers of the local Sami film industry. “We plan to be the first feature production house to actually be based here, especially focusing on domestic films and international co-productions,” Pirir said. diversity.
In the film Mer, Pirir created the short “Sami Boy” from Elle Sofe Sara. She is now producing the Sami filmmaker’s social issue musical “Aru,” Norway’s first feature directed by an indigenous female director, Pirir said.
“Arru” is also executive produced by Jim Stark, the producer of Jim Jarmusch classics such as “Down by Law” and “Night on Earth” and later “Roma” producer Nico Celis’ partner at Mexico-based Pimienta Films, Tatiana Huejo’s “Prayer for Steal.”
“Where The River Begins,” like Toudo, received a 2022 grant from Sørfond, which was established in 2011 by Stiftelsen Festivalkontoret and the Norwegian Film Institute to support films from developing countries. Movies made from Tromsø, however, can also tap funding from regional sources, Pirir noted.
“There are currently no new companies [Norway’s] The Arctic is what makes the films of the future,” he said. “We need more and more companies to come. [Sami films] Very interesting movie. We can make a lot of Arctic movies here. This is a part of Norway that is unexplored. It’s going to be amazing in a few years,” enthuses Pirir.
Piri will also continue to work with New Scandinavia voices, citing Marte Vold (“Out of Nature”), Anders Emblem (“A Human Position”), Sarah, Linda Bornen (“Never Look Back”) and Dalia Huera Cano. (“Carne que recuerda”).
“Stær” means starling in Norwegian, Pirir points out. The birds “come together to support and protect each other as they fly from Scandinavia to southern Europe and back. Together they stay strong and reach their destination after a long and demanding journey,” he said.
It’s “the inspiration and the heart of Steyer,” he adds — and a metaphor for a company that, rooted in its Arctic home, looks to make a virtue out of a growing industry need: international co-production.