Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s debut feature has found a home following its world premiere in the Directors’ Fortnight section at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. A press release announced Oscilloscope landed North American rights to “Clara Sola,” which is competing for Cannes’ Caméra d’Or Award, and will release the drama in theaters in late 2021 or early 2022.
Set in a remote village in Costa Rica, “Clara Sola” tells the story of 40-year-old Clara, who “endures a repressively religious and withdrawn life under the command of her mother. Her uncanny affinity for creatures large and small allows Clara to find solace in the natural world around her. Tension builds within the family as Clara’s younger niece approaches her quinceañera, igniting a sexual and mystical awakening in Clara, and a journey to free herself from the conventions that have dominated her life,” the film’s synopsis teases.
Álvarez Mesén told us that she and co-writer Maria Camila Arias were “interested in how patriarchal norms were inherited from generation to generation disguised as tradition, even in households where no men were present.”
Asked what advice she’d give other women directors, the filmmaker revealed, “After hearing a lot of horror stories about film sets from fellow women directors, I put a lot of time and love into finding the right crew. It’s kind of sad that it was needed, but I’ve inquired about specific things like if a potential candidate for the camera department would be OK working with a woman DP. Surprisingly, not all answers are positive,” she emphasized. “It’s something that demands patience, but that hopefully won’t be necessary very soon. For now, I find it helpful in creating a healthy working environment for the team and for myself — a space where it doesn’t matter what gender I am since it has nothing to do with the work.”
Regarding “Clara Sola’s” acquisition, Álvarez Mesén commented, “I’m overjoyed to be part of the Oscilloscope family. I’ve been following their films for so long — they select such powerful stories and do such incredible and honest work to bring them to their audiences.”
O-Scope’s Dan Berger added, “’Clara Sola’ is a truly wonderful gem; a deeply empathetic, nuanced portrait that is altogether exotic, but never stokes exoticism. Nathalie’s subtle touch and Wendy Chinchilla’s masterful performance as Clara transport us into a magical, yet fully lived-in world of discovery and wonder.”