Argentine Genre Powerhouse Crudo’s Jimena Monteoliva to Adapt Hit Novel ‘La Virgen Cabeza’ (EXCLUSIVE)

John Hopewell and Jamie Lang
·3-min read

An icon of Latin American genre movie production, Crudo Films, the Buenos Aires-based production house headed by Jimena Monteoliva and Florencia Franco, will diverge from the fantastic with the upcoming production “La Virgen Cabeza,” a big screen adaptation of the hit debut novel from local author Gabriela Cabezón Cámara.

Director of Fantaspoa and Morbido competition player “Clementina” and 2019’s “To Kill a Dragon,” Monteoliva is attached to fill the director’s chair once again.

Narrated largely by a journalist, Qüity, “La Virgen Cabeza” – Slum Virgin in English – is set in the El Poso shanty slum of Buenos Aires, where a transvestite prostitute, Cleo, begins to hear divine messages whispered to her via a cement Virgen Mary statuette. The figure instructs her, promising to alter the community’s fortunes for the better. A miraculously cleaned up El Poso is, however, destroyed by the police who move in with bulldozers, massacring much of its population.

“Ever since I read the book I haven’t been able to get it out of my head!” Monteoliva told Variety.

Told in a blend of slum slang and Spanglish with references to the reggaetón of Cabezón Cámara, later co-founder of Latin America’s massive NiUnaMenos movement against gender violence, the novel “La Virgen Cabeza” was hailed as a virtuoso debut championing the marginalized and sexual diversity.

“This is a major project that involves everything we seek at Crudo: Stories told from the side of dissidence, portraying other realities than those we’re accustomed to see in cinema,” said Monteoliva, who spoke Monday on a Ventana Sur panel, Sangre Latina: Fantastic Women.

The company has recently rolled out Monteoliva’s latest movie as a director, “Matar al Dragón.” Shooting on “Bienvenidos al infierno,” her next feature currently is on hold as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. The latter comes from an idea of “Kryptonite” director Nicanor Loreti, about a pregnant girl who flees from a satanic metal band. 40 minutes has been shot.

Crudo Films is also teaming with Pokeepsie Films, the Madrid-based label of Alex de la Iglesia and Carolina Bang which backed HBO Europe’s “30 Coins,” to produce “La Piedad,” a mother-son relationship drama. It is the second feature of Eduardo Casanova, whose

“Pieles” was one of Spain’s most talked about debuts in recent years.

Starring Assumpta Serna, directed by Ramiro Garcia Bogliano (“Penumbra,” “The Accursed”) and co-produced with Barcelona-based Break the Format Media, “Expansivas” was due to world premiere at Buenos Aires’ Bafici festival. Crudo is now exploring festival and distribution options.

Pitching at Blood Window’s Project section, Bernardo Bronstein’s “Carla’s Body Is Lying Next to Yours” is another Crudo production on the horizon looking to leverage its festival selection to kick off a financing drive, having already submitted the project to INCAA for consideration.

It turns on a would-be novelist suffering a breakup and writer’s block who retreats to the countryside, only to suffer a car accident which forces him to confront past misdeeds.

Exploring other avenues, Crudo is also moving into documentary, producing Meliana Terribili’s “Recuerda,” inspired by images she has of her father, artist Carlos Terribili, and his final days.

“I would like Crudo to be a renowned production company, to be known for making a different type of cinema, a bold one of quality and with a very marked personality,” Monteoliva explained of the company’s ever-growing ambitions. “I think that so far, we are succeeding!”

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