Bolivia’s Rodrigo Bellott, after some years dedicated to casting and producing for other directors, has marked his return to filmmaking with the adaptation of his groundbreaking stage play, “Tu Me Manques.” On Sunday Aug. 28, his eponymous bi-lingual film snagged the Grand Jury Prize for Best Screenplay at L.A.’s Outfest where it had its world premiere. Drama will have a special screening at Chile’s Santiago Int’l Film Festival (SANFIC), which runs Aug. 18-25.
When the play broke out in 2015, what was originally meant to stage for one night went on for an unprecedented four months due to popular acclaim. More importantly, the story based on Bellott’s gay boyfriend, who killed himself for fear of coming out, had such a momentous impact on Bolivian society that it led to the inclusion of the LGBTQ community in Bolivia’s anti-discrimination law. Its Supreme Court declared May 17 as National Day Against Homophobia in Bolivia.
“Tu Me Manques,” the movie, is set for a wide release on Aug. 22 in Bolivia. If the play’s impact, which inspired hundreds of people to tell their own stories and for some to come out – the so-called Tu Me Manques effect – is any indication, the film is expected to do gangbusters at the box office. To coincide with its nationwide release, Bellott is launching the Tu Me Manques foundation in a bid to empower youth and suicide survivors through education and the arts.
“If anything, ‘Tu Me Manque’s’ impact is a testament to how art can affect the collective consciousness on a macro-social level,” said Bellott, who attests that Bolivia now has the most progressive anti-discrimination laws in Latin America. Some countries in the region, like Ecuador, Peru and Guatemala, still condone conversion therapy for gays. “Homophobia is still pervasive in Latin America where it converges with the machismo and classist tendencies of the region,” he noted.
Starring Argentine actor Oscar Martinez (“Wild Tales,” “The Distinguished Citizen”) and Spanish actress/ Almodóvar muse Rossy de Palma, “Tu Me Manques” explores three men’s struggles with issues of identity and the norms of society. Following the suicide of his son, a father travels to New York to confront his son’s boyfriend. While the two are at loggerheads over the father’s inability to understand his son’s sexuality, the boyfriend stages a play to pay tribute to his lost love.
Born in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Bellott launched his filmmaking career with his breakout hit, “Sexual Dependency,” which clinched the Fipresci Award in Locarno and screened at more than 65 international film fests. It also became the country’s first official entry to the Academy Awards, an honor which could repeat itself with “Tu Me Manques.”
In 2007, Variety named Bellott as one of the top ten Latin American talents to watch. His other helmer-scribe credits include road comedy “Who Killed the White Llama?” and “Perfidy.” He later produced his first American horror film, “We Are What We Are,” by Jim Mickle, which premiered at Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2013. As a casting director, he worked on Steven Soderbergh’s twin Che Guevara pics “The Argentine” and “Guerrilla,” and the French film “La Traque” (The Hunt).
Bellott is repped by Jon Kanak at Activist Artists.