Around this time every year, the “for your consideration” Oscar contender crowd publicly releases scripts for their Best Screenplay wannabes. It’s a traditional look-at-me Academy Awards ploy that’s practiced across the spectrum of potential nominees, but it’s also a great opportunity for students of the craft and film lovers alike to get a firsthand look at the blueprints behind some of the year’s greatest films. For the first time, we can see just how faithful a director was to the written word, how an actor interpreted this or that adjective, or which incredible tracking shot was already written into the script before shooting.
Now, thanks to the group Cinema23, Latin American cinema has its own version of the Oscars called the Premios Fénix, complete with lavish red carpets, rabid paparazzi, musical numbers, and yes, publicly available PDFs for some of their Best Screenplay nominees. Part of Cinema23’s Cuadernos, there are currently three attractively formatted scripts available for download on Cinema23’s website – all of which were Best Screenplay nominees from the 2014 edition – supplemented by introductions from each filmmaker and screenshots from the films.
Features like Fernando Eimbcke’s Club Sandwich, Pelo Malo by Mariana Rondón, and Best Picture winner La jaula de oro (The Golden Cage) by Diego Quemada-Díez represent fresh and original approaches to the craft, free of many of the Hollywood clichés you’re apt to find in most of the aforementioned Oscar nominees. In addition, the Cuadernos feature critical essays by some of Ibero-America’s greatest film critics, and topical conversations between film professionals. All in all, it’s a wonderful detail from the Cinema23 group. With over 600 members from 22 countries, they are perhaps doing more than any other organization to guarantee the health and survival of Latin America cinema well into the future.