Xavier Lafitte set for “Maybe”, part of Spanish screenings on tour

Frenchman Xavier Lafitte (“In the City of Sylvia,” “Yves Saint Laurent”) is set to star in “Perhaps” (“Tal vez”), a project being developed by first-time director Arima León.

He is the latest actor to be announced for a project exploring the odd love between poet and writer Natalia Sosa Ayala (1938-2000) and legendary trapeze artist Pinito Del Oro (1931-2017). Lafitte will have a supporting role as Jérôme, a painter in love with Natalia, who shares this obsessive love for Del Oro. The project joins a host of Spanish films being presented at Ventana Sur’s Spanish Screenings in Buenos Aires this week.

The role of Pinito is played by the Goya-dominated and very popular Spanish actress Antonia San Juan, known internationally for her work with Pedro Almodóvar in All About My Mother. Other leading actors are Tania Santana (“Hierro”) and Marta Viera (“Me llamo Suleimán”).

It’s a story that Arima León came across by accident: “In the middle of my research, I found a book in which Natalia Sosa Ayala published love letters. And I found this story, so I said, ‘OK, this isn’t a short film. I still have to do something with this story, because Natalia writes about her feelings really painfully, with tragedy and with a lot of melancholy. I found a strong poetry in her words to create something bigger than what I was looking for when I started researching.”

Sosa Ayala was hired by Pinito Del Oro as their secretary on their last tour in the 1960s. Here Natalia was magnetized by Del Oro and all that she represented as an independent artist, at a time of great cultural repression in Spain under the ongoing dictatorship of General Franco; “She was a really strong and powerful person in life and how she presents herself to society and people. And I think that certainty intrigued Natalia,” León told Variety.

There’s a story from the golden age of Hollywood that exemplifies the spirit of Del Oro. In 1952, Paramount Pictures released The Greatest Show on Earth, Cecil B. DeMille’s portrayal of life at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The film had it all, starring Charlton Heston, Betty Huston, Gloria Grahame, James Stewart as the clown and about 1,400 of the real Ringling Bros. crew. But someone was missing, Pinito Del Oro, then the leading female trapeze artist of the Ringling Bros troupe. She had urged DeMille that she would not appear without credit, and so her Technicolor debut was never to be made. A confident artist, at the top of her game and ready to take it.

Director Arima de Leon & Actor Xabier Lafitte Calabuch
Courtesy of Arima de Leon

Maybe is produced by Naif Films, Amissus Producciones and Arima León. They hope more co-producers will come on board as the project’s active pitching increases, such as with Ventana Sur. The project has secured nearly 50% of its funding so far.

The culture of the Canary Islands is an important aspect of this project, director Arima León is Canarian, as are Del Oro and Sosa. The project won the Pitch Canary Island Film – Isla Mecas Award, received development aid from the Government of the Canary Islands and has also been part of Aceleradora Canaria de Cine, Fire!Lab and EAVE on Demand. This development of a local film culture in the Canary Islands is understandable for many locations worldwide which, while able to attract international film production, find it difficult to develop opportunities for local talent.

“They have a lot of work for technicians [on international shoots] but where is our own cinema? For me, cinema is the mirror of society. I want to express my point of view on the Canary Islands on this small island surrounded by a vast sea.” The hope is that, once completed, “Perhaps” can be an artistically successful example of what is achievable when local talents are supported.

https://variety.com/2022/film/global/xavier-lafitte-arima-leon-spanish-screenings-1235442980/ Xavier Lafitte set for “Maybe”, part of Spanish screenings on tour

Charles Jones

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