Land of Ashes / Ceniza negra made history today by becoming the first Costa Rican feature film to be selected for competition at the Cannes Film Festival. The debut feature by Sofía Quirós will have its world premiere as part of the official lineup of the 58th annual edition of the Critics’ Week and will be competing for the Cámera d’Or award—given to the best first feature of the French festival—as well as for the two prizes given by La Semaine de la Critique: the Nespresso Grand Prize for best film and the Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award for best actor or actress.
Written and directed by Quirós, the film tells the story of Selva, a 13-year-old played by Smachleen Gutiérrez, in her second collaboration with Sofía Quirós after the short film Selva. In Land of Ashes her character lives with her 83-year-old grandfather, played by Humberto Samuels, and her only motherly figure, played by the dancer Hortensia Smith.
After the sudden disappearance of her surrogate mother, Selva is the only one left to take care of her grandfather who no longer wishes to live. Between mysterious shadows and wild games, she debates whether or not she should help her grandfather achieve his desire, even though this might mean going through her last moments of childhood alone.
Land of Ashes was filmed between August and September 2018 in the Costa Rican South Caribbean with non-actors from the Limón province, and is produced by the Costa Rican production company Sputnik Films in co-production with Murillo Cine from Argentina, La POST Producciones from Chile and Promenades Films from France. The project was supported by the Ibermedia Program, the French fund Aide aux Cinémas Du Monde, the World Cinema Fund, the Tribeca Latin American Film Fund, and Costa Rica’s National Film Fund ‘El Fauno’, among others.
Born in 1989, Quirós studied Sound and Image Design at the University of Buenos Aires. Since her first short films, Sofía has focused on working with non-actors and actresses, creating films that explore their characters intimate worlds with a poetic vision that highlights atmosphere and emotion. Her short film Selva premiered at Cannes Critics’ Week in 2017. Since then, it has gone on to screen in more than forty cities around the world gathering awards such as the TV5 Prize in Biarritz and the ‘Women in Film and TV Award’ given by the Guanajuato IFF.