Ambitious Dominican Republic-Puerto Rico co-pro presented at 3rd Beyond the Window
Highlighting the increasing international interest in Caribbean sci-fi film genre, Puerto Rican writer-turned-director Pedro Cabiya is moving “Uqbar,” an ambitious Dominican Republic-Puerto Rico co-production set up at Santo Domingo-based Heart of Gold Productions.
The film project turns on two astronauts from advanced but disparate civilizations, set on the limits of the cosmos, that join forces to survive on an inhospitable moon, settled by a violent and primitive tribe, possessor of a terrible secret that will transform all of them forever.
“This is a story narrated in a concise way and addresses issues of global relevance: Corporate irresponsibility, sectarian wars, the ecological imbalance, religious fanaticism,” said Pedro Cabiya, who makes his feature helming debut with “Uqbar.”
“However, this is not a pessimistic film, quite the contrary. Through these issues, their counterparts also emerge: Balance, freedom, co-operation, solidarity, the love of knowledge and our fellowmen.”
The project boasts a range of film references, Cabiya said. Among the most important are the stellar wreckage of Wolfgang Petersen’s “Enemy Mine,” the artificial intelligence of “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the love that overcomes cultural and physiological differences in Jean-Jacques Annaud’s “Quest of Fire,” he argued.
“Uqbar” teams Cabiya’s outfit Heart of Gold with Maria Victoria Hernandez’s Bogo Producciones plus studios Lone Coconut and Gavilangato, all Dominican companies, in co-production with Ilia Velez’s Resonancia Puerto Rico.
“We aim to shoot in one of two tax havens for film: Dominican Republic or Puerto Rico. Originally, we contemplated ‘Uqbar’ as a purely Dominican production, taking advantage of local film incentives, but the 2015 amendments to boost film investment in Puerto Rico -considering Cabiya’s Puerto Rican nationality- are also very attractive to lure foreign investment, particularly from the U.S. Thus, we have structured the project as a co-production, and it’s been adopting this structure in a natural way,” said producer Maria Victoria Hernandez.
With an estimated cost of $1.5 million, “Uqbar” boasts one of the highest budgets among films presented at this year’s Beyond the Window, where producers aim to give projects visibility, get feedback from genre specialists, and access to possible co-producers or funds like Ibermedia.
Per Hernandez, ‘Uqbar’ is an ambitious project in many ways, one its production design. We will shoot in almost inhospitable, arid locations. The aim is to shoot only the eminently necessary in the studio.”
“But the most important of the spend will be dedicated to post-production. We want to take the viewer to a very particular universe: alien with Caribbean dyes. This implies a large challenge which starts in the shoot and ends in post: Set extensions, sky replacements, element enhancements, 2D and 3D animation, something that is still relatively new to the local industry,” she added.
The “Uqbar” project launches when the Caribbean sci-fi film scene “is undoubtedly at its best,” according to Cabiya.
“Our expertise has always been in the conceptual vocabulary of religious magic but gradually Caribbean storytellers are updating their language to produce speculative fiction of a scientific nature. The fact that the Caribbean is making sci-fi is the most natural thing in the world. It is not coincidence that the biggest star of the sci-fi genre in Hollywood is a Dominican, Zoe Saldana,” he said.