While not quite autobiographical, Klaudia Reynicke’s third feature, “Reinas,” which world premieres at Sundance’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition, taps her own childhood memories of leaving her home in Peru for another country.
The Swiss-Peru-Spain co-production is set in the summer of 1992 when social and political unrest is roiling Lima, prompting Elena (played by Jimena Lindo), a mother of two young girls, to accept a job offer in the U.S. However, she needs the consent of her estranged husband (Gonzalo Molina) to take their daughters abroad. The girls, who barely know their father, are reluctant and wary at first but warm up to him, complicating matters further as conflicting emotions jeopardize their plans.
More from Variety
“It’s not exactly my story but the feelings are,” said Reynicke, who left for Switzerland with her mother at the age of 10 and had to adjust from living in a crowded family-packed house to a quieter existence with only her mother and her Swiss stepfather.
Like in her previous two films, “Il Nido” and pop drama “Love Me Tender,” she explores the themes of family, belonging and identity in “Reinas.”
Amsterdam-based Peruvian helmer-scribe-producer Diego Vega (“October,” “The Mute”) co-wrote with Reynicke while he and his brother in Lima, Daniel Vega, co-produced “Reinas” alongside lead producer Alva Film of Geneva, Switzerland and Spain’s Inicia Films. The film will also screen in Berlin’s Generation KPlus section.
Bent on finding two unknowns to play the young sisters, Reynicke found her Aurora, the older sister, in Daniel Vega’s daughter, Luana Vega, who was reluctant at first. “She was wonderful, exactly what I was looking for,” said Reynicke after seeing her audition. Finding the younger sister, Lucia, was even more challenging until her casting agents spotted Abril Gjurinovic at a shopping mall. Again, it was kismet once she saw her audition.
Shot early 2023 in Lima, “Reinas” called for a predominantly multi-lingual Swiss crew and a Peruvian cast, making it a “culture shock for everyone,” noted Reynicke, who added, laughing: “In all of my shoots, there are at least five languages spoken.”
Juggling a young family and location shoots has not deterred her from cooking up new projects. Reynicke has been developing the scripts for a dark comic thriller, a drama set in Italy and a mini-series based on a book she has optioned, “Mrs. Hemingway” by Naomi Wood, about the four wives of Hemingway and their perspective on him. She noted: “One of the episodes could be set in Peru as he once visited the country on a fishing trip.”
Best of Variety