Panama’s award-winning Hypatia Films and Guatemala’s Jayro Bustamante, whose recent film La Llorona made the international Oscar shortlist, are collaborating with Mind Riot Entertainment’s Jonathan Keasey to direct the WWII drama Down Wind .
The film marks a rare collaboration between two major Central American filmmakers and an American writer-producer. Bustamante will direct from a script by Keasey, who is also on board as producer.
The drama’s lead production company, Hypatia Films, helmed by Pituka Ortega Heilbron and Marcela Heilbron, is Associate Producer on Claire Denis’ Cannes Competition nominee The Stars at Noon, which was filmed in Panama and for which Hypatia provided production services.
Inspired by true events, “Down Wind” (a working title) comes from an article about incidents that took place in the American Southwest towards the end of World War II.
While details of the story remain sealed, Ortega Heilbron said, “For years we have searched for that piece of the puzzle in life that will make a dream more than drama, a knock more than a wave. The characters in our film and the epic events that change their lives are such a piece that storytellers dream of encountering once in a lifetime.”
This unprecedented alliance first came about when the Heilbrons, Bustamante and Keasey met in December at the Ortega International Film Festival in Panama (IFF Panama).
“The chance to tell that story with Heilbrons and Bustamante is particularly close to home,” said Keasey, whose grandfather won a silver medal in the Pacific War of World War II and who grew up in the shadow of the Hanford Nuclear Power Plant, where the plutonium was made in the first Atomic bomb was obtained.
“I was always drawn to that tragic era. So when Pituka asked me to adapt a true story tangentially related to this theme, I was immediately intrigued. And when she told me Jayro was interested, how could I say no? I’m such a fan of her work,” he said Diversity.
“I’ve known Jayro since his stunning debut film Ixcanul and have always admired his work; he has the sensibility and artistry to make this delicate film,” agreed Ortega Heilbron, who hopes to shoot the film on location in New Mexico and take advantage of its solid incentives.
For Bustamante, this would be his first film in English, albeit with some Spanish dialogue. The idea of doing Down Wind appealed to him immediately. “My career has always been linked to issues of indigenous discrimination,” said Bustamante, who is working on his fourth film and preparing his fifth.
Sebastian Robertson, who comes from the Mohawk line, will helm the drama alongside his father Robbie Robertson of The Band. “When Jonathan brought me this story and introduced me to the Heilbrons, it immediately evoked a deep connection to my homeland roots that my grandmother and father passed down to me,” said Robertson.
“Given the vision of Down Wind, it’s an honor and, in the best sense of the word, a duty to bring to life this story that has impacted so many of my employees and the environment,” said Robertson, who has a deal at Universal Music and is also producing a music documentary with Keasey following his exclusive video reinterpretation of the Led Zeppelin classic “When The Levee Breaks” with John Paul Jones for Rolling Stone Magazine.
Keasey recently served as Executive Producer on Norman Lear’s TV series Gamergate and has just completed the sci-fi thriller Parallel Forest, which he co-wrote with brothers Aldis and Edwin Hodge and co-produced with Rumble Riot, Beijing Pu Luo Media Co and Hodge Brothers has produced productions.
He is represented by Michael Prevett at Circle of Confusion and attorneys David Matlof and Jacob Shapira at Hirsch Wallerstein.
Hypatia Films is represented by Galindo, Arias & Lopez and Sutin, Thayer & Brown, while Bustamante is represented by M88 and CAA. Robertson is currently working with the United Nations in partnership with YouTube on its next global event.
https://variety.com/2022/film/global/jayro-bustamante-down-wind-hypatia-films-1235274015/ Jayro Bustamante, Pituka Ortega Heilbron, Jonathan Keasey Partners in Down Wind