Locarno Open Doors Standout ‘Diamond’: Empatía, Maravilla Team on the Andean Queer Universe Drama (EXCLUSIVE)

Buenos Aires-based Maravilla Cine, producer of 2018 Berlin Panorama player “Marilyn” and San Sebastian 2020 New Directors’ hit “That Weekend,” has boarded “Diamond” (“Diamante”), the first fiction feature from Bolivia’s Yashira Jordán which is shaping up as one of the standout titles at this year’s Locarno Open Doors.

Maravilla Cine joins “Diamond” lead producer Empatia Cinema, rapidly consolidating as a production hub for Bolivian auteurs. Recent credits include Martín Boulocq’s “The Visitor” which premiered at June’s Tribeca Festival and Alejandro Quiroga’s Western “Los de abajo,” a Sanfic Industria pix-in-post winner in March 2021.

Empatia Cinema and Maravilla Cine have jointly applied for a development grant from the Ibermedia regional film fund for Latin America, Spain and Portugal. The incentives will be announced in late November, said Empatia’s Alvaro Olmos Torrico.

“Diamond” taps into two trends powering ever more of the best cinema coming out of Spain and Latin America: The emergence of female auteurs mixing local detail and magical realism or horror tropes to pointed effect: Think Elena López Riera’s Cannes success “The Water” or Michelle Garza Cervera’s “Huesera”; the flowering of LGBTQ universes in conservative bastions – such as rural Latin America or traditional Indigenous communities – as a haven of freedom for establishment rebels.

Produced by Empatia Cinema’s Olmos Torrico, Jordán and Maravilla Cine’s Paula Zyngierman, “Diamond” weighs in as a coming of age drama. Petra lives in a town in Bolivia’s Andes, grating at the traditions of her community, including its total subordination of women who are supposed to cook, bear children and serve their menfolk at prestes, three-day celebrations dedicated to the Catholic Virgin or the Sun. Petra, in contrast, refuses to wear a pollera dress, and sings hip hop trap in her native Quechua.

One day she receives a message from her father, who had been expelled from her family years before. Escaping to La Paz’s El Alto – Bolivia’s capital city – she reconnects with him, and realizes the vital power of transformation.

“Petra is a rebel, and she must find her community to heal. This is how she discovers the Andean Queer Universe, where she can finally feel a sense of belonging,” Jordán said in a director’s statement.
“Pop culture, exaggerated kitsch images, neo-Andean buildings, and fluorescent colors are part of the urban landscape of El Alto city, where Petra gets lost looking for her father. In that fusion of magic realism and rawness of my Bolivian culture, I see how the characters in this film can develop and shine,” she added.

“Diamante” is a risky and critical bet for Bolivian cinema to bring to the forefront the complex situation of the LGTBIQ+ community,” added Olmos. “From the understanding of our Bolivian context, we believe that more productions directed by female filmmakers are needed. For this reason, we trust Yashira’s talent and the sensitive story she developed in this project.”

Diamond Courtesy of Alvaro Olmos Torrico