France’s Xavier Lafitte (“In the City of Sylvia,” “Yves Saint Laurent”) is slated to star in “Perhaps,” (“Tal vez,”), a project under development by first time director Arima León.
He’s the latest actor to become announced for a project exploring the mismatched love between poet and writer, Natalia Sosa Ayala (1938-2000) and legendary Trapeze Artist Pinito Del Oro (1931-2017). Lafitte, in a supporting role, will play Jérôme, a painter in love with Natalia who herself carries this obsessive love for Del Oro. The project joins a host of Spanish films, pitching at Ventana Sur’s Spanish Screenings this week in Buenos Aires.
The role of Pinito will be played by Goya mominated, and much loved Spanish actress, Antonia San Juan well known internationally for her work with Pedro Almodóvar in “All About My Mother.” Also forming the key cast is Tania Santana (“Hierro,”) and Marta Viera (“Me llamo Suleimán,”)
It’s a story Arima León came across by chance, “in the middle of my research I found a book where Natalia Sosa Ayala published love letters. And I found this story so I said, ‘O.K., this is not a short film. I have to do something more with this story, because Natalia writes about her emotions really painfully, with tragedy and with a lot of melancholia. I found in her words, a strong poetry to make something bigger than what I was looking for at the beginning of the research,”
Sosa Ayala was hired by Pinito Del Oro as her secretary on her final tour in the 1960s. It was here that Natalia was magnetised by Del Oro and all she represented as an independent female artist, at a time of great cultural oppression in Spain, under the continued dictatorship of General Franco; “She was a really strong and powerful person in life and how she presents herself to society and to people. And I think this security was something that fascinated Natalia,” León told Variety.
There is a tale from the golden age of Hollywood that illustrates Del Oro’s spirit. In 1952, Paramount Pictures released “The Greatest Show on Earth,” Cecil B. DeMille’s depiction of life at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The picture had it all, with Charlton Heston, Betty Huston, Gloria Grahame, James Stewart as a Clown, and some 1,400 of the real Ringling Bros. troupe. But someone was missing, Pinito Del Oro the premier female trapeze artist of Ringling Bros troupe at the time. She had pushed DeMille, that without credit, she would not appear, and so her technicolor debut was never to be. A confident artist, at the top of her game and willing to stand by it.
The producers on “Perhaps” are Naif Films, Amissus Producciones and Arima León, They hope that more co-producers will come on board as active pitching of the project ratchets up, such as at Ventana Sur. The project has secured close to 50% of its funding thus far.
The culture of the Canary Islands are an important aspect of this project, Director Arima León is Canarian, as were both Del Oro and Sosa. The project won the Pitch Canary Island Film – Isla Mecas award, tapped development aid from the Canary Islands Government and was also part of Aceleradora Canaria de Cine, Fire!Lab and EAVE on Demand. This development of a local film culture in the Canary Islands is relatable for many locations globally, who though able to attract international shoots find it hard to grow out opportunities for local talent.
“You have a lot of work for technicians [on international shoots] but where’s our own cinema? Cinema for me is the mirror of society. I want to express my point of view on the Canary Islands in this small island, surrounded by the enormous sea.” The hope will be that, once completed, “Perhaps,” can be an artistically successful example of what is achievable when local talent is supported.