A Unique Experience With Pedro Costa

The Yucatan Peninsula, the cradle of the Maya culture, holds thousands of stories and secrets, turning this territory into a perfect “playground” for 50 talented creators from different parts of the world. These creators will have the fortune to explore, create and learn at the hands of Pedro Costa. On this occasion, our master will share with us tools, tips and experiences that have gradually allowed him to forge a brilliant and consolidated methodology, one in which with minimal resources he manages to create works that take our breath away.

Playlab Films provides a wonderful opportunity to step away from our everyday lives and observe and listen attentively. We head towards a unique experience in search of our own voice, while immersed in a creative and uplifting environment. An ideal space to confront ourselves and sharpen our gaze in the face of the realities presented to us by this multi-layered territory, as fascinating as it is mysterious. Pedro Costa leads the way to turn the Yucatan Peninsula, once again, into the creation cradle of new narrative universes.

“Cinema is the art of the secret, of the mysterious. Mysterious in an almost metaphysical sense.”

— Pedro Costa.

The Master

Redefining cinema with Pedro Costa

Pedro Costa is considered a cult figure and one of the most influential authors of contemporary cinema. As a screenwriter and director, he has always been known for breaking the mold, his creative freedom, militating on the fringes of the industry, and walking an almost invisible border between documentary and fiction. He is undoubtedly one of the most radical and persistent filmmakers in his vision, his sensibility at the time of narrating, and his ability to create an authentic and nuanced look. Winner of the Golden Leopard with his latest film, Vitalina Varela, at the Locarno International Film Festival, one of the most relevant film festivals, he is committed to unlimited cinephilia. A radical, audacious and devoted cinema.

Although his films revolve around real people who live and express themselves through everything they know and experience, the purpose of his films is not informative but narrative. So for him, cinema becomes a means to approach reality and offer the world his point of view. He concentrates his gaze to extract an essence of what he is interested in thinking, reflecting and questioning. Through fascinating photography and his characteristic chiaroscuro, he reveals a marginal universe through dispossessed characters, captured with an impeccable solemnity, in which light and darkness are loaded with multiple layers that reveal and hide the different views and interpretations of that reality.

“In cinema, sometimes, it is as important not to see and hide as it is to show. Cinema; perhaps, is more a matter of concentrating the gaze of our vision of things.”

— Pedro Costa.

The Lab

“We show up in the shadows, where no one sees us.”

Playlab Films returns to the Yucatan Peninsula to present its next edition of CREATORS LAB with a new teacher. Our Pedro Costa Lab: in Mexico seeks to bring together emerging talents from around the world so that under the guidance of Pedro Costa, one of the most authentic voices of contemporary cinema, they can explore and promote their creativity by developing a short film through this practical workshop. Over ten days, fifty creative directors of diverse nationalities and contexts will create their productions under a fascinating methodology created by the master Abbas Kiarostami, shaped by Werner Herzog, revisited by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and now adapted by Pedro Costa.

“One shot coming together with another, it’s like a moment of humanity. And if there are no traces of humanity in these blocks, for me there is nothing.”

Each of these phases will be accompanied individually and in groups by Pedro Costa, through talks, exchanges and consulting, along with the knowledge that each of the participating filmmakers always brings.
The latter is essential, as the process unites the directors and forges a community that goes beyond this encounter and the individual process. It is a unique journey that surpasses the shooting. With this community comes the possibility of touring film circuits hand in hand. After post-production, Playlab Films chooses 10 of the works to accompany them in their distribution at international festivals and other exhibition windows. This year, Playlab Films also provides complete color grading for the 10 selected short films.

For example, the short film The Lost Memories of Trees, by Antonio La Camera, filmed at the Apichatpong Lab 2022 won the award for Best Short Film at the Biennal di Venezia. Also in 2023, the CANNES Film Festival hosted an exclusive installation where the short film Apichatpong shot in the Peruvian jungle during Creators Lab 2022 was presented, along with 14 selected short films. In turn, the short films created during the past editions of the workshop have been selected for official competitions at festivals, such as BAFICI, Berlinale, Locarno, Havana, Cartagena de Indias, Venezia and L’alternitva, among many others. After this distribution, to continue to work with the participating directors and further strengthen this community, the 50 filmmakers become part of an exclusive and internal call to present their next film or series projects to Playlab Films. Playlab films will then select 2 of these for production. We want to unveil these new talents and walk with them through their filmmaking careers.

“Cinema is not revealing anything, it’s hiding it, it’s keeping it to yourself. It’s the only way to give it to someone else. It has to be your most precious gift.”

— Pedro Costa.

Program *

Day 1


Lab opening
Introduction and explanation of the work method of Pedro Costa, and presentation of the lab and its dynamics.
Delivery of the materials: accreditations, production dossier, and map of the territory.


Scouting of the territory (part 1):
First exploration of the areas previously selected by Pedro Costa.


Nighttime exchange of ideas:
The place where ideas arise. Personal experience as a starting point.

Day 2


Scouting of the territory (part 2):
Alongside Pedro Costa, all the students will tour the previously selected main locations.


Creation lab 1:
Personalized counselling session where all the participants will share their ideas for their stories in their short films.


Nighttime exchange of ideas:
The exercise of observation. How to interpret the many layers and realities of the territory to adapt them to our stories.

Day 3


Discussion of the characters:
First meeting between actors and creators. Each participant will choose the actors for their short film.


Creation lab 2:
Personalized counselling session where all the participants will share their ideas for their stories in their short films with Pedro Costa.


Nighttime exchange of ideas:
The characters as the engine. Discussing the construction of the characters and how to select the cast for their movie.

Day 4


Session 3. Directing actors exercise with Pedro Costa.


Filming of the projects already approved by Pedro Costa.


Nighttime exchange of ideas:
How to portray the stories of the land through light and sound.

Day 5

Morning and afternoon:

Pedro Costa will visit each one of the filming crews and sets to provide personalized counselling.


Nighttime exchange of ideas:
How to communicate your ideas to your team and work in harmony to tell a story.

Day 6

Morning and afternoon:

Filming of all the projects at the same time.
Pedro Costa’s rest night

Day 7


Filming of all the projects at the same time. Pedro Costa will visit each set to provide personalized counselling.


Review of the audiovisual materials and montage scripts of the projects with Pedro Costa.


Nighttime exchange of ideas:
The detachment. To what extent can an idea be defended?

Day 8

Morning and afternoon:

Pedro Costa will review the projects which are at an advanced stage and will give advice. It’s the moment to see the evolution of the stories.


Nighttime exchange of ideas:
Time, linearity, and narratives.

Day 9

Morning and afternoon:

Personalized reviewing of the advances in assembly by Pedro Costa.


Nighttime exchange of ideas:
The sound world as a whole for Pedro Costa.

Day 10


Project completion with final counselling and reviewing sessions.


Screening of completed projects/short films.


Award and diploma presentation ceremony, closing of the lab.


Side events

Press conferences

Pedro Costa’s Master Class.

Restrospective Screening

To be confirmed.

“I think that with a few exceptions, it’s very difficult to find in cinema a path, a voice in the first films. For me, the first film is a kind of pagamento, a debt to cinema.”

— Pedro Costa.


Yucatán: where spirituality meets creativity

From a world where only the sky and sea existed came the gods Tepeu and Gucumatz. Attired in green plumes, they resembled feathered serpents. From their will, the mountains, the trees and the animals that gave life and protected the jungle were all born. Later, after suffering from both the inconsistency of bodies made from clay and the lack of ingenuity of ones made from wood, they created corn bodies. These corn bodies were transformed into flesh, blood and muscle by the gods and they were placed on the Yucatán peninsula. These newly formed beings were the Maya.

The Yucatán Peninsula is a territory that divides the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean Sea at the southeastern tip of North America and the northern part of Central America. A place to open the senses, listen to the silence, feel the memory of an ancient civilization, and walk through its ruins that allow us to imagine its legacy and embrace nature: life, death, and beauty. And so, between the magic of the sunrises and sunsets, feel the rhythm of one’s heartbeat with which the emptiness is filled.

To give further detail, the workshop will be based in Shambalanté, a place that draws on sacred geometry, ancestral techniques, and modern eco-technology to achieve harmony between the past and the present, making it a sanctuary of relaxation and healing. Nestled in the heart of the sacred land of the Yucatecan jungle, where the Maya left their powerful legacy, is the magical town of Izamal. It is only one hour from Merida, the capital and most populated city of the Mexican state of Yucatan. From Izamal, you can walk the Mayan trails and experience their legends, cosmovision, language, ceremonies and herbalism, and feel the living voice of their heritage.

“I work on your and my sensibility, on the transformations of sensitivities.”

— Pedro Costa.



September 23 to October 3, 2024

Guided by
Pedro Costa

11 days – Hands-on and experiential learning

Location and Lodging
Shambalanté – Yucatán, Mexico

Key dates /2024

Launching of the call for proposals: June 7

Applications closing date: July 10

Publication of the list of selected candidates: July 30

First payment of 30% to reserve a space: August 5

Deadline for full payment of tuition: August 25

Workshop start: September 23

Workshop Closing Date: October 3

What does it include?

  • Individual and group mentoring sessions with Pedro Costa.
  • Airport-hotel-airport transfers.
  • Daily transportation during the lab.
  • Accommodation for 12 days (11 nights).
  • Meals for 12 days, including 3 meals a day plus hydration and a coffee/tea station available throughout the day.
  • Pre-production book created by Playlab Films with various shooting locations and the corresponding permits + local casting with natural and professional actors.
  • Group of guides and translators.
  • 10 short films will be selected for distribution at international festivals.
  • Complete color grading for the 10 selected short films by the renowned colorist Emilio Sacco.
  • Internal call for the 50 participants to present up to 2 future projects.


6.100 euros.

*Once the fee has been paid, there will be NO refunds. If the selected director has not paid his registration fee by the deadline, his place will be automatically assigned to the next director on the waiting list.

Registration form


Barbara Cunha Brazil

Humberto Flores MEXICO

Brett Allen Smith USA

Zachary Yap SINGAPUR

Chloe de Brito AUSTRALIA

Hiona Henare New Zeland

Our History

PlayLab Films
— The production house

Creativity in motion for unstoppable creatives! We are a production company that aims to foster imagination through film. We create a sustainable model of film production, revealing emerging talents from the hands of great masters of cinema. Playlab’s activity is concentrated on the Creators Lab, where workshops for emerging talents are organized by great masters, such as Abbas Kiarostami, Werner Herzog and Apitchatpong Weerasethakul. Through these workshops, new directors are born and the production company, from the Production Lab department, produces and supports their first works.

Organized by

Allied Institutions

We have the support of several public institutions, ready to support their national talents in case they are selected:

Swiss Film: supports with 1.500CH for a Swiss director

FDC—Fondo de desarollo cinematografico de Colombia: up to seven million nine hundred and ten thousand pesos ($7,910,000)::

Polish Film Institute: supports a Polish director. The application is made through their website:

Hungarian Film Institute: offers the possibility of supporting a Hungarian director with travel expenses.

NFVF The South African National Film and Video Foundation: opens the possibility of a collaboration for its national talents selected for the laboratory.

Brazilian Ministry of Culture: supports the participation of Brazilian artists. The application is made through their website: https://www.gov.br/cultura

ICEC: Gives the possibility to support Catalan creators if they are part of a Catalan production company. The application is made through their website: https://icec.gencat.cat/es/tramits

Secretaria de Cultura Gobierno México: Support system for creation and cultural projects. Annual call for artists. https://sistemacreacion.cultura.gob.mx/convocatorias/

Doha Film Institute offers the possibility to support Qatari selected filmmakers with travel expenses.


Thanks to the alliances and collaborations forged over the years with public and private companies, we have consolidated this project to fulfill its objective of being a bridge between emerging directors and the industry.

Supported by


Producer and LAB Director
Estephania Bonnett

Direction assistance
Laura Otálora

Production Designer
Giulia Armanini

Production directors
Arylu Maruffo Guzman
Gabriel Gonzales Acosta
Diego Riveroll Medina
Carlos Bonnett

Making of
Alicia Corpas Pino

Social Media Communication

Graphic and desing
Juan Felipe Mejía

Laura Otálora

Andrew Connolly

Alicia Corpas


For more information please contact us at:

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