Natalia Oreiro - News Poster


Paramount Pictures Commits to First Local Movie in Argentina: ‘Re Loca’ (Exclusive)

  • Variety
In a historic move, Paramount Pictures has acquired all Latin American distribution rights to Argentine women’s empowerment comedy “Re Loca,” marking the Hollywood studio’s first local movie in Argentina.

Re Loca” also represents the first project partnering Paramount and Argentina’s Telefe, both units of Viacom since Viacom bought broadcast network Telefe in November 2016, adding it to Viacom International Media Networks Americas.

Like Vimn America’s acquisition of a controlling stake in Brazil’s Porta Dos Fundos, one of the country’s hippest comedy creators with a huge online following, Viacom’s purchase of Telefe was designed to drive up its Spanish-language content ownership. “Re Loca” is one movie example of how that strategy can now play out, leveraging and twinning Viacom assets.

Produced by Telefe, along with Sebastián Aloi’s Buenos Aires production house Aeroplano, “Re Loca” stars Natalia Oreiro as Pilar, a downtrodden copywriter at an
See full article at Variety »

Buena Vista takes FilmSharks' 'I Am Gilda' for LatAm

  • ScreenDaily
Buena Vista takes FilmSharks' 'I Am Gilda' for LatAm
Exclusive: Biopic stars Natalia Oreiro at late pop icon Gilda.

Buenos Aires-based FilmSharks is in talks with international buyers on the biopic I Am Gilda (The Latin Music Saint) starring Natalia Oreiro as the late Argentinian pop icon Gilda.

Buena Vista International has boarded Latin American rights and will release the film in the fourth quarter.

Lorena Muñoz directed I Am Gilda (Spanish title Gilda No Me Arrepiento De Este Amor), which charts the story of how Miriam Alejandra Bianchi became the iconic pop star Gilda and her tragic end in a car crash.

Angela Torres, Lautaro Delgado, Susana Pampin and Daniel Melingo also star.

Oreiro has starred in The German Doctor, among others.
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Movie Review – Wakolda (2013)

Wakolda (a.k.a. The German Doctor), 2013.

Written and Directed by Lucía Puenzo

Starring Àlex Brendemühl, Diego Peretti, Guillermo Pfening, Natalia Oreiro, Florencia Bado and Elena Roger.


The true story of an Argentine family who lived with Josef Mengele without knowing his true identity, and of a girl who fell in love with one of the biggest criminals of all time.

Based upon writer/director Lucia Puenzo’s novel, Wakolda is based upon the real life story of former SS Officer Josef Mengele, once known as “The Angel of Death,” during his time hiding in South America (as many war criminals did) after the war. As we are coming to the tail end of a long summer still filling the multiplexes with blockbusters of all manner, The German Doctor offers the option this week of seeing something a bit less noisy, and more considered.

Puenzo’s film opens in
See full article at Flickeringmyth »

Wakolda Review

  • HeyUGuys
In many territories, Lucía Puenzo’s third feature film – to follow the critically acclaimed Xxy and The Fish Child – actually goes by the name of ‘The German Doctor’. Here, in the UK, it’s called Wakolda, which represents a more fitting, symbolic title to truly capture the essence of this moving, disquieting drama. Wakolda is the name of our 12 year old protagonist’s doll, and is therefore emblematic of her innocence, which is far more poignant. After all, this picture is not about the doctor, as such, but his relationship with the young Lilith, finding a strand of intimacy amidst an otherwise comprehensive, implicative narrative.

Lilith is played by the newcomer Florencia Bado, who is remarkably small for her age, and is often the victim of much teasing at school as a result. However there appears to be a cure for her lack of growth, as a local German doctor
See full article at HeyUGuys »

The German Doctor (aka Wakolda) movie review: don’t mention the war

The subtle veil of horror draped over things we take for granted as good and wonderful aspects of humanity is deeply unsettling… I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

South America, 1960. You can probably guess at the background of the eponymous German doctor (Àlex Brendemühl) who befriends a Patagonian family and slowly inveigles his way into their very heart. Impressionable 12-year-old Lilith (Florencia Bado) falls for his seeming charm the moment they meet, though her mom, Eva (Natalia Oreiro), isn’t far behind. Soon he is living in the lakeside hotel the family operates, investing in dad Enzo’s (Diego Peretti) custom dollmaking business, and making medical suggestions for how undersized Lilith — who looks like an eight-year-old and is teased at school as a “dwarf” — might jumpstart her growth and kickstart her delayed adolescence.
See full article at FlickFilosopher »

Review: The German Doctor

Following the fall of the Third Reich and the liberation of the German Nazi concentration camps, many of the leaders directly involved fled to South America. One of the most famous of those officers was Josef Mengele, a physician in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Due to his barbaric and deadly human experiments performed on prisoners as well as role in the section process for the gas chamber executions, Mengele was known as "The Angel of Death."

Argentian filmmaker Lucia Puenzo's novel Wakolda focuses on this infamous man and the true story of an Argentinian family who unknowingly boarded Mengele at their home, now adapted by Puenzo as the movie The German Doctor. Whereas the novel is told through Mengele’s point of view during his exile in South America, the film instead relies more on 12-year-old Lilith (Florencia Bado). Born premature and having suffered from several illnesses at an early age,
See full article at Slackerwood »

Review: The German Doctor (Wakolda)

The German Doctor, Argentina's Submission for the Academy Award Nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. U.S. :Samuel Goldwyn Films. International Sales Agent: Pyramide International

In the quest for perfection humanity has gone to great lengths to alter and manipulate physical processes or unaesthetic features. Striving to improve and increase the species' adaptability is the basis for evolution. Traits and defects are passed on through generations engraved in the DNA. Aware of this, and in an attempt to justice their heinous crimes and bless them as 'scientific purification of the Aryan race', the Nazis fabricated their own branch of Social Darwinism. They pursued a type of homogenous beauty based on phony symmetrical genetics, with which they aimed to craft a special breed of super humans.

Rid of any genetic imperfections or miscegenation these individuals would become the pinnacle of their efforts. Spearheading this research and its consequential experimentation was Josef Mengele, a physician and one of the most notorious German SS officers. Following Germany’s defeat the world was learning of the horrors that took place in the concentration camps. Many Nazi officers and supporters, Mengele included, escaped to South America to avoid facing justice. Lucía Puenzo’s magnificent historical fiction film The German Doctor tries to reconstruct the time the so-called “Angel of Death” spent in Argentina and the moral implications of the unexplored complicity of the locals.

Set in 1960 against the breathtaking scenery of the Patagonian town of Bariloche, the story focuses on a family that serendipitously crosses paths with Mengele (Àlex Brendemühl) on their way to the family owned hostel. Upon meeting Lilith (Florencia Bado), the family’s daughter, the doctor is instantly captivated by the girl’s size and physical features. She is a 12-year-old girl that appears extremely underdeveloped and fragile for her age. He immediately considers her the perfect specimen to test his theories, and to his advantage she seems to be equally intrigued by the foreign man. Her pregnant mother, Eva (Natalia Oreiro), fluent in German, seems to like the doctor who easily gains her trust, despite her husband Enzo’s (Diego Peretti) noticeable suspicion of his intentions.

Once in Bariloche the doctor convinces the family to let him rent a room at their place, clearly part of his plan to stay close to his interest. The city exudes a heavily German influence, including Eva’s old Nazi-supported school where she enrolls Lilith and her two siblings. There, her tall and blond classmates of German descent bully the young girl because of her size. This represents a prime opportunity for Mengele to interfere. He persuades Eva to let him inject Lilith with hormones that will make her grow, and he provides her with pills to help with her pregnancy, all of it behind the patriarch’s back.

Mindful of Enzo’s growing uneasiness towards him, the conniving German doctor shows interest in the man’s passion for designing dolls. With Lilith’s father now distracted with his own project, Mengele has free range to experiment after discovering Eva is expecting twins. Increasingly curious about the doctor’s stories, Lilith begins reading about the Aryan pseudo-mythology in her school’s library where she meets photographer Nora Eldoc (Elena Roger). As the family starts to grapple with the motives behind the doctor’s unsolicited help, Eldoc will prove to be a crucial character when the Israeli secret police, the Mossad, comes hunting down the runaway Nazis.

Conceived with incredible moral complexity and a mysteriously alluring tone, the film doesn’t simply crucify Mengele as the source of all evil, but it instead questions the willing collaboration of others. There is a shared responsibility for his acts occurring between him and the participants. He doesn’t kidnap Lilith or forces Eva to accept any treatment, but they grant him permission. In the same manner, the replication of artificial beauty is not only expressed via Mengele’s vision of what Lilith and the twins can become, but also in Enzo’s obsessive interest in creating the perfect human-like doll.

Wakolda”, Lilith’s rag doll made by the native Mapuche Indians is not good enough in his eyes, and it must be improved. Just like with Mengele’s grueling fixation with engineering a utopian race, all individuality must be suppressed and replaced by identical flawlessness. This absurd aspiration is shared by both of the their enterprises. Such tacit complicity mirrors that of the entire community, which aware of the numerous Nazis and their supporters, prefers to let them live in obscurity.

Puenzo’s fascinating period piece, based on her own novel, revisits familiar stories of Nazism with a particular focus on the Argentinean involvement. Executed with outstanding attention to detail, a prodigious ensemble cast, and splendid cinematography, the film is a window into a time lost in history. Despite the secrecy surrounding the doctor’s time in her country, the writer/director incorporates the facts available to formulate her own informed version of the story. Her great artistic achievement might be the most plausible retelling of the events one might ever get to see. Evoking a sense impending danger, The German Doctor is a challenging and enthralling masterwork.

The German Doctor opens in L.A. and New York on April 25th, 2014

Read Sydney Levine's Case Study on The German Doctor (Wakolda)

Read more about all the 76 Best Foreign Language Film Submission for the 2014 Academy Awards
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

The German Doctor Is a Fictionalized Run-In with a Nazi Psychopath

The German Doctor Is a Fictionalized Run-In with a Nazi Psychopath
The promise of perfection leads to disaster for an Argentinean family in 1960 Patagonia in The German Doctor, a fictionalized account of one clan's run-in with notorious Auschwitz psychopath Dr. Josef Mengele.

Adapting her own novel, writer-director Lucía Puenzo keeps the evil physician's identity a secret for the first half of her story, in which Mengele (Àlex Brendemühl) meets and takes a liking to Lilith (Florencia Bado), a 12-year-old girl with a growth disorder, and consequently decides to stay at the hotel run by her father, Enzo (Diego Peretti), and pregnant-with-twins mother, Eva (Natalia Oreiro).

Soon, Mengele is experimenting on both Lilith and Eva, with Puenzo insinuating that Eva welcomes these hormone trials because her indoctrina...
See full article at Village Voice »

The German Doctor | Review

A Nazi At My Table: Puenzo’s Latest an Eerie Reimagining

Argentinian director Lucia Puenzo once again adapts one of her own novels for her latest offering, an intriguing period piece, The German Doctor. Whereas her 2009 adaptation of The Fish Child unraveled itself with a series distracting narrative flourishes, her latest effort is a bit more reserved, a simple and straightforward tale that manages to build a sinister simmer, even distracting us from what audiences familiar with historical accuracy already know will happen. While avoiding the use of Nazism and the perverse case of Dr. Mengele as an exploitative element, the rather demure narrative only hints at the possibility of the notorious and despicable terrors residing underneath the calm visage of a stranger that upends one unremarkable family’s livelihood.

Set in early 1960’s Patagonia, a man by the name of Helmut Gregor (Alex Brendemuhl), becomes fascinated with an underdeveloped
See full article at »

The Platinum Awards: The First Major International Iberoamerican Cinema Awards

Winners have been announced! See below.

The First Edition of the Platinum Awards, a gala presentation in Panama April 5th, sponsored by Egeda and Fipca was an idea born two years ago in Panama at the Festival'sl Forum with Iberoamerican filmmakers and the Iberoamerican Producers Association (Fipca). Panama's Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce offered to pay for the first edition which is being held now. Jose Pacheco, the Deputy Minister and also the President of the Panama Film Commission, along with Arianne Marie Benedetti, then had to convince their government that the investment in the awards, along with the investment in cinema would further the country's extraordinary influx of capital and would help establish the Premios Platinos as the most important global event promoting and supporting the Iberoamerican film industry. Everyone here for the 4th Annual Panama Film Festival was quite excited and it was an extraordinary affair. Twenty-two Spanish speaking countries in the Americas as well as Brazil, Portugal and Spain gathered along with world press (John Hopewell of Variety and I myself of SydneysBuzz/ LatinoBuzz and Indiewire were the only gringo press around) and producers, directors, actors, cinematographers and writers to pay homage to the great talent arising out of the Iberoamerican countries whose potential audience exceeds that of the United States.

This was pointed out with great enthusiasm by Javier Camára, the actor nominated for Best Male Actor for his role in David Trueba's Living is Easy with Eyes Closed (Vivir es fácil con los ojos cerrados). He plays a high-school English/ Latin teacher in 1966 Spain who drives to Almeria in hopes of meeting his hero, John Lennon. Along the way, he picks up two runaways. The movie title, Living is Easy With Eyes Closed, comes from a line in Lennon's song Strawberry Fields Forever which he wrote while filming How I Won the War in Almeria. (Camára is also a fan of Real Madrid.)

In this first edition 701 films have participated. Of these, each of the countries made a pre-selection of their candidates through their representatives Fipca and national film academies. Subsequently, a jury of prominent industry professionals has selected the winners just announced at the gala on April 5 in Panama. The Directors of the event are Adrian Solar Lozier for Fipca and one of Chili's most recognized producers and Enrique Cerezo Torres, one of the founders of Egeda twenty-five years ago, its chief executive for the past seventeen years, President of the Madrid Film Commission and President of the Madrid School of Cinema. (He is also the President of the Athletic Football Club of Madrid.)

Mexican singer and actress, Alessandra Rosaldo, and Colombian journalist Juan Carlos Arciniegas whose TV show on film is featured on CNN Latino, co-hosted the televised event. Canal Plus of Spain and others representing television across the Americas were present.

The winners in each of the eight categories were named to a huge audience of the most important Latin American cinema talent who sat on pins and needles waiting to hear the winners.

Accepting the Platinum Award of Honor, Sonia Braga, known to U.S. audiences from the 1976 breakout Brazilian film, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, and again in 1985 and 1988 with Kiss of the Spider Woman and The Milagro Beanfield War respectively, was elegant and eloquent in her acceptance.

The most nominated films were The German Doctor: Wakolda, Gloria and Living is Easy with Eyes Closed. The surprise was that Living is Easy did not win a single award. Already the winner of 11 Awards and nominated for 5 other awards, David Trueba definitely can not hide behind the loser category. The Spanish film Living is Easy with Eyes Closed won six Goya Awards including Best Director.

And The Winners are:

Best Iberoamerican Fiction Film: Gloria (Chile). Nominated were The German Doctor: Wakolda (Argentina), Heli (Mexico), Witching and Bitching (Spain), La jaula de oro (The Golden Cage) (Mexico), Roa (Colombia) and Living is Easy with Eyes Closed Spain) compete for the title of Best Latin American Film of the Year.

Best Female Performance: Paulina García (Gloria). Nominated were Karen Martínez (The Golden Cage), Laura De la Uz (Ana's Film), Marian Álvarez (Wounded), Nashla Bogaert (Who's the Boss?), Natalia Oreiro (Wakolda). You can read Gloria's review and interview with Sebastian Lelio and Paulna Garcia here: Review by Carlos Aguilar and Interview with Sebastian Lelio and Paulina Garcia by Sydney Levine. You can soon read more about upcoming Dominican Republic's Nashla Bogaert whom I met and interviewed in Panama. She is my choice of the one to keep an eye on.

Best Male Performance: Eugenio Derbez (Instructions Not Included). The equivalent of the Platinos, our own Academy Award usually steers clear of comedy in the best actor category, as if comedy were not as difficult as drama. But this was well deserved in terms of popularity as this film's huge success in both U.S. and Mexico shows. U.S.$44 million in U.S. and U.S.$ 41 million in Mexico are not to be ignored. This major hit hit a major nerve in U.S. and Mexico. Also nominated were Antonio de la Torre (Cannibal), , Javier Cámara (Living is Easy with Eyes Closed), Ricardo Darín (Thesis on a Homicide) and Víctor Prada (The Cleaner).

Platinum Award For Best Director: Amat Escalante (Heli). Nominated were Sebastian Lelio (Gloria), David Trueba (Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed), Lucia Puenzo (The German Doctor: Wakolda). You can read Heli's Review by Carlos Aguilar and the Interview with Amat Escalante by Carlos Aguilar.

Platinum Best Screenplay Award: Sebastian Lelio, Gonzalo Maza (Gloria). Also nominated were Daniel Sánchez Arévalo (Great Spanish Family), David Trueba (Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed), Lucia Puenzo (The German Doctor-Wakolda)

Platinum Award For Best Original Score: Emilio Kauderer for Foosball (Football). Also nominated were Karin Zielinski for El Limpiador (The Cleaner) -- you can read its Review by Carlos Aguilar , Joan Valent (Zugarramurdi Witches)

Platinum Award For Best Animated Film: Foosball (Football). Nominated were Anina -- you can read Anina's Review by Carlos Aguilar , The Secret Of Jade Medallion, Justin And The Sword Of Value, Uma History Of Love And Fury

Platinum Award For Best Documentary: Con la Pata Quebrada (With a Broken Leg). Nominated were: Cuates de Australia (Friends from Australia), Eternal Night Of The Twelve Moons, The Day That Lasted 21 Years from Brazil about the U.S. instigated coup d’etat in 1964, Still Being.

Camilo Vives (recently deceased, head of production for Icaic) Platinum Award for Best Iberoamerican co-production, in memory of his Presidency of Fipca for over 10 years and co-chair of the Forum Egeda / Fipca was The German Doctor Wakolda which beat out Anina, Esclavo de Dios and La jaula de oro. Read more on The German Doctor Wakolda here: Review by Carlos Aguilar and Case Study by Sydney Levine.

See more on the Platinum Award website:

Alessandra Rosaldo stated: "These Awards will be the most valuable Iberoamerican Film Excellence Awards, something this industry needs and demands to reward the creativity and talent of our film industry.

Juan Carlos Arciniegas said: "The Platinum Awards are pioneers, transcend borders and put our countries in a fair competition that will highlight the diversity of the region cinematically. These awards will write the history of the participating films."

Eugenio Derbez, Blanca Guerra, Victoria Abril and Patricia Velasquez were some of the presenters.
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

Watch: Buried Secrets Abound in New Trailer for 'The German Doctor,' Argentina's 2014 Oscar Submission

Watch: Buried Secrets Abound in New Trailer for 'The German Doctor,' Argentina's 2014 Oscar Submission
Check out the first English-subtitled trailer for "The German Doctor," Argentina selection for the 2014 foreign language Academy Award. Though it didn't make the final Oscar five, the film was also a commercial and critical success in its home country, winning 10 Sur Awards from the Argentine Film Academy, including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor. It was up for the Un Certain Regard prize at Cannes 2013. Based on filmmaker Lucia Puenzo's (the wonderful "Xxy") fifth novel, "The German Doctor" follows an Argentinean family in 1960 who takes in a mysterious German doctor, who becomes especially interested in the family's young daughter Lilith, unusually small for her age. Well that doctor, uh, turns out to be a Nazi, and one in particular whose identity we won't spoil. It's creepy stuff. The film stars Alex Brendemuhl, Natalia Oreiro, Diego Peretti, Elena Roger, Guillermo Pfening, Alan Daicz and Florencia Bado. It opens April 25th via Samuel Goldwyn.
See full article at Thompson on Hollywood »

German Doctor heads to 30 territories

German Doctor heads to 30 territories
Thriller inspired by Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele’s time in Argentina competes at San Sebastian this week.

Pyramide International continues to tot up sales on Argentine writer and filmmaker Lucia Puenzo’s The German Doctor (Wakolda), some four months after the film first premiered in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.

Review: The German Doctor (Wakolda)

The Paris-based company has unveiled a batch of sales into Central and Southern America including to: Brazil (Imovision), Bolivia and Chile (Los filmes De La Arcadia), Colombia (Cine Colombia), the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico (Wiesner Distribution), Peru (Pucp) and Panama and Costa Rica (Palmera International).

In Europe, Sarajevo’s Obala Art Centre has acquired the picture for multiple territories including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and Montenegro.

The film has also sold to Hungary (Vertigo), Poland (Hagi), Israel (Nachshon) and South Korea (Company L) since Cannes.

As previously announced, Peccadillo acquired the film for the UK and
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Goldwyn takes The German Doctor

  • ScreenDaily
Samuel Goldwyn Films has picked up Us rights from Pyramide International to Lucía Puenzo’s Argentinian thriller The German Doctor, set to screen in San Sebastian on Monday night (September 23).

The film premiered in Un Certain Regard under its original title Wakolda. Sources did not comment at time of writing on whether the film would be named Argentina’s official foreign-language Oscar submission.

Samuel Goldwyn Films plans a spring 2014 release for The German Doctor, based on Puenzo’s novel about a family in post-WW2 Argentina who unwittingly entrust their daughter into the care of the notorious Nazi fugitive Josef Mengele as Israeli agents close in.

Alex Brendemuhl, Florencia Bado, Natalia Oreiro, Diego Peretti, Elena Roger and Guillermo Pfening star.

Samuel Goldwyn Films vp and general counsel Ian Puente negotiated the deal with Lucero Garzon and Valentina Merli of Pyramide International.
See full article at ScreenDaily »

Clandestine Childhood Movie Review

  • ShockYa
Clandestine Childhood Movie Review
Title: Clandestine Childhood Director: Benjamín Ávila Starring: Natalia Oreiro, Ernesto Alterio, César Troncoso, Teo Gutiérrez Romero, Cristina Banegas, Douglas Simon, Violeta Palukas, Marcelo Mininno, Mayana Neiva. When abuse of power and violence take over, the crossroads between ideals and the safeguard of your loved ones is inevitable. The Argentinian director, Benjamín Ávila, was inspired by his personal infancy in the making of this historical film, set during the “Dirty War,” the time of state terrorism in Argentina. ‘Clandestine Childhood’ portrays the story of a married couple of Montoneros (the organisation fighting against the Military Junta ruling the country) living in Cuba with their two children, who manage, through the help [ Read More ]

The post Clandestine Childhood Movie Review appeared first on
See full article at ShockYa »

2013 Cannes Film Festival Predictions: Lucia Puenzo’s Wakolda

#84. Lucia Puenzo’s Wakolda

Gist: Starring Alex Brendemuhl, Natalia Oreiro, Diego Peretti and Elena Roger, this is based on Puenzo’s own novel detailing the true story of an Argentine family who lived with Josef Mengele without knowing his true identity, and of a girl who fell in love with one of the biggest criminals of all times.

Prediction: Un Certain Regard. Despite Lucía Puenzo making waves when she had Xxy unfold in 2007′s Critics’ Week, by appearances, Wakolda might have a a narrower chance of showing in Cannes as this stylistically looks too mainstream for the Directors’ Fortnight. In between films she premiered El niño pez (2009) in Berlin and this 2013 feature is set to be released in Argentina less than a week before the Croisette opens for business.

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‘Clandestine Childhood’ a film about wartime displacement and coming-of-age

Clandestine Childhood

Directed by Benjamín Ávila

Argentina, 2011

Philadelphia Film Festival

Benjamín Ávila’s debut feature is a fine balance of youthful longing and militant resistance.

Ernesto (Teo Gutiérrez Romero) has two names. One name – Ernesto – is for his schoolmates, but he goes by Juan at home. His parents also have two names. Horacio goes by Daniel (César Troncoso) and Cristina by Charo (Natalia Oreiro). It’s Argentina in 1979, and five years after Perón’s death, Horacio, Cristina and charismatic Uncle Beto (Ernesto Alterio) continue the fight against the existing regime through violent tactics.

Using a mixed-media strategy where moments of extreme violence are depicted through graphic animations, Ávila’s film keeps the focus firmly on Juan and his budding relationship with a classmate’s sister, María (Violeta Palukas).

Romero’s surprisingly tender and mature performance recalls the two great Ana Torrent roles from the 1970s in Spirit of the Beehive and Cria Cuervos.
See full article at SoundOnSight »

LatinoBuzz: Interview with Benjamín Ávila

In Clandestine Childhood (Infancia Clandestina), writer/director Benjamín Ávila drew inspiration from his personal exiled childhood during Argentina's Dirty War as the son of two Montoneros guerillas. The film, which took prizes at both San Sebastian and Havana Film Festivals last year, is set in 1979 during the family's return from Cuba to fight in the Montoneros counteroffensive operation under new assumed identities. Benjamín spoke to LatinoBuzz about what it meant to see memories from his formative years unfold on the big screen.

Clandestine Childhood is being released in NY and CA on Friday, January 11th, 2013.

LatinoBuzz: What did the actors take away from spending several days with former Montoneros?

Benjamín Ávila: I wanted the actors to have the chance to physically live that era. The most complex challenge for an actor is the ability to give dimension to the story from the time that it happened, not from the present. For them it was important to get rid of all the Whys and be able to answer them by themselves. So I decided to have the actors meet a couple of former guerrilla members to do a training drill for two days, the way it was done back then, as well as for them to have a chance to talk and for the actors to be able to ask anything they wanted.

It was very productive because their body changed, as well as their stand before history. It also helped me to confirm some doubts that had arisen during the process of writing the script. And from that moment on, the improvisations we did were very important in defining some scenes of the film. Particularly the argument scene between the grandmother and mother. That improvisation came after the work we did, and some glorious moments emerged as a result, very complex and incorrect that served to give another dimension to the movie.

LatinoBuzz: Was there a particular audience for this film that was most important for you to see it?

Benjamín Ávila: Not really. But firstly, it is a film that I made for my brothers. And for the children of the disappeared and those killed during the last dictatorship in Argentina. They are the primary audience, but the story is not constructed so that only they understand. On the contrary, I wanted the film to move people, to it would provoke feelings and ideas, without sacrificing the cinematic and artistic construction. Luckily, for all the feedback that I receive from the people who have seen it, I think we have achieved that goal. It's a film that provokes many emotions, that endures for days within the people who see it, and that generates the need to reiterate the questions that were supposedly already answered.

LatinoBuzz: When was the first time you realized that 'Infancia Clandestina' was the story you had to tell?

Benjamín Ávila: I always knew it. Since I was 13, I knew I wanted to work in film. I also knew back then that one day I would film my childhood. Somehow I made a tacit commitment at that time with myself, with my family, and with my own story. Therefore it is very important for me to have completed this process. It is a feeling of a debt paid, like I "had to do" this film. It was a duty rather than a necessity. Now that the film is finished I feel a relief, that of mission accomplished. Now I can be at peace.

LatinoBuzz: How much of what was going on were you very much aware of and how did you process that as a young boy?

Benjamín Ávila: My older brother and I were very aware, even though we were 7 and 8 years old at the time. I always think we were like the kids living in the street, who have a very conscious relationship with their environment. We knew what was happening, what we could and could not say. Although we were doing and saying what we were living, we could not have a dialectical discussion nor a real argument. We understood it all.

For us what we lived was not anything special, but it was normal. It was our life. We could not imagine anything different. This is why we were never traumatized. Even nowadays I miss that lifestyle. That clear and powerful bonding we all had. What was traumatizing was everything else: the absence, the persecution, the disappearance of my mother and not knowing anything to this day, not having been raised with my younger brother (Vicky in the movie). It was not until three yeas ago that we started having a life of ordinary siblings. And it cost a lot to have it...

LatinoBuzz: You were a child of Montoneros, so your childhood was unlike many others yet in the film we largely see this sweet portrayal of this blossoming first love between Juan and Maria –just like any teenager experiences. How much of that was Benjamín wishing that childhood was that innocent?

Benjamín Ávila: What you need to understand is that living in hiding was not something different to normality. It had parameters that were unusual, but we lived them like any other, even inside the house. I remember many common and normal family moments. Like waking up too late at night to watch the matches of the national team playing the World Cup youth soccer, Maradona’s first in Japan, and the matches were at 4 or 6 am. I remember going out at 7am in the morning with all the neighbors to celebrate the championship. My mother chastising me because I was late for school, or because I hadn't made my bed. Family barbecues, like any other Sunday, and so on, thousands of memories as normal as any other.

LatinoBuzz: What happened to “María”?

Benjamín Ávila: Maria never existed at that time. I had my Marías, but in other places and other times!

LatinoBuzz: In writing such a personal story what was the hardest thing to

write and did you avoid anything?

Benjamín Ávila: The most difficult part was at the beginning, trying to detach myself from my own history. Because several things were clear to me: the subject of film, that I did not want to be the protagonist of the story, that the most important part was the reconstruction of a routine

that has never been shown but that was not only mine but of many. That's why I took anecdotes and stories from others... Writing the script with Marcelo Muller, a dear Brazilian friend, helped me to achieve that distance I wanted for the construction of the story. With him I was able to rule out what wasn't important to the film’s story even if it was personally very important to me, and so we achieved that distance even though I deepened what remained. It was as if Marcelo pulled out to keep it to the essential, and I pulled inwards to deepen what remained.

LatinoBuzz: Was the casting difficult? Were you looking for yourself in

the Actor?

Benjamín Ávila: The casting of the children was complicated. We did it with María Laura Berch, an incredible casting director specializing in children, and we elaborated a very clear, yet complex, strategy. We saw over 700 children in total for all the roles, and it took us three months as planned.

But most importantly, we wanted to cast very homely, to give the kids the idea of what the shooting was going to be right from the beginning. And as I do my own camerawork every time I film, I decided I was going to shoot the casting so the kids could get used to my presence close to them and behind the camera from the beginning. And it worked really well.

With the adults it was very different. I saw Ernesto Alterio in the TV series "Vientos de Agua" by Campanella miniseries and compared to other roles I've seen him perform, I found the construction of his character wonderful. Something similar happened with Natalia Oreiro, she is very famous in Argentina but because of roles in comedies or romantic comedies, but seeing her in Caetano's "Francia" I noticed a dramatic profile in which I was very interested. With Cesar Troncoso, he was recommended by Luis Puenzo who had worked with him in "Xxy" the film he produced, directed by his daughter Lucía Puenzo. I had seen him in "The Pope's Toilet" and I had loved his role. And it was always a dream that Cristina Banegas play the role of the grandmother, and luckily we did it!

LatinoBuzz: Was seeing the film for the first time like looking at

photographs of your childhood?

Benjamín Ávila: No, this film has a lot of traits that belong to my childhood but they're for the most part, changed or modified. What does happen to me, is that I see through them my own memories. That happens to me, but it's something very intimate. The photos that appear at the end, which are from my family in reality, is the moment that moves me the most as I get haunted by the echoes of that wonderful past that was destroyed at the moment portrayed by the film.

My production company is called Room 1520 in tribute to the last scene of Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders, where the young kid (Hunter) is reunited with his mother after a long time in that same room... My childhood accompanies much of what I do.

LatinoBuzz: How many details from set design and wardrobe to how the actors who played your parents looked and acted did you involve yourself or were you able to separate yourself?

Benjamín Ávila: The shooting process was very intimate, intense and emotional. All of the staff, technicians and actors, we were involved in a special way. I have a way of working which at first puzzled the team. I like getting carried away by what is happening and then decide each scene based on the actors, the set and the light.

I operate the camera, I always do it when I'm the director, and I like to approach it as a documentary, finding the images based on what happens, as it happens. In that sense, each take was a particular universe of its own, unique and not replicable. Of course some takes came out really bad. But others were magical ... and those are the ones remained.

On the third day of filming something happened that made the whole team realize the scope of what we were doing, and from that moment on, everybody trusted my working technique. It happened that we were shooting Juan's (played by Teo Gutiérrez Moreno) first sequence where he burns the photos, near the end of the film. A tough sequence due to the mood that Juan had to reflect (as he just learns that his father was killed and had just hopelessly cried with his mother), and with children you don't work from a rational place but rather from the body directly, something very natural to them. So, I asked Natalia Oreiro to stand off-screen next to me, and that at moment I said 'action', for her to scream inconsolably, begging for help. On the other hand I told Teo that regardless of whatever was happening, he should not take his eyes off the fire, and that he should run out when I called his name. We got ready and at the moment of saying 'action' Natalia started to scream, heart wrenching, and all that I wanted to happen to Teo, started happening to me with the camera on my shoulder. I began to cry inconsolably (if you look carefully at the scene, the camera moves because I'm crying), as if it was an ancestral cry from some other time, and at some point I yelled at Teo and he perfectly did what he had to do, as usual, an he ran. I said 'cut', gave the camera to my assistant and as I was leaving I saw Natalia crying uncontrollably, everyone saw me and realized I was crying. I went to the video assist and as I entered everybody was very excited, they saw me crying. I asked to see the take… At that moment, everybody including actors, technicians and me, realized that we were doing something more than professional, but also very personal.

LatinoBuzz: Were there any films that influenced the look of the film?

Benjamín Ávila: Absolutely. For the tone of the performance and the gaze of the kids, "My Life as a Dog" by Lasse Halstrom. All of Krystof Kieslowski's filmography, and the political view of the films that Ken Loach made in

England such as "Raining Stones", "Riff-Raff" and "Hidden Agenda".

LatinoBuzz: What's the next project?

Benjamín Ávila: I am writing for a TV series of 40 single chapters. Additionally, I am adapting a novel by Elsa Osorio that I've been wanting to do for 12 years. I'm adapting it with her to make a miniseries of 13 chapters. It's about 40 years of history and involves many characters. A different look at the people who survived or were involved in Argentina's dictatorship.

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Written by Juan Caceres and Vanessa Erazo, LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow @LatinoBuzz on twitter.
See full article at SydneysBuzz »

Celebrate Valentine's Day With A Crossbow And Argentinian Hitwoman Thriller Mala

See that woman with the crossbow? She'll be lining up the shot with Argentinian audiences on Valentine's Day when Adrian Caetano's hitwoman thriller Mala hits the big screen.  Natalia Oreiro plays Rosario, a killer who specializes in taking out pimps, wife beaters and other men who exploit women.The first teaser for the film is freshly online and it's a bloody, action packed affair. Take a look below....
See full article at Screen Anarchy »

Philadelphia Film Festival 2012: ‘Clandestine Childhood’

Clandestine Childhood

Directed by Benjamín Ávila

Argentina, 2011

Philadelphia Film Festival

Benjamín Ávila’s debut feature is a fine balance of youthful longing and militant resistance.

Ernesto (Teo Gutiérrez Romero) has two names. One name – Ernesto – is for his schoolmates, but he goes by Juan at home. His parents also have two names. Horacio goes by Daniel (César Troncoso) and Cristina by Charo (Natalia Oreiro). It’s Argentina in 1979, and five years after Perón’s death, Horacio, Cristina and charismatic Uncle Beto (Ernesto Alterio) continue the fight against the existing regime through violent tactics.

Using a mixed-media strategy where moments of extreme violence are depicted through graphic animations, Ávila’s film keeps the focus firmly on Juan and his budding relationship with a classmate’s sister, María (Violeta Palukas).

Romero’s surprisingly tender and mature performance recalls the two great Ana Torrent roles from the 1970s in Spirit of the Beehive and Cria Cuervos.
See full article at SoundOnSight »

Tjff 2012: ‘My First Wedding’ is a perfect storm of marriage clichés

My First Wedding

Directed by Ariel Winograd

Written by Patricio Vega

Argentina, 2011

Grooms on their wedding day usually consider themselves the luckiest man in the world, but in Ariel Winograd’s My First Wedding, nothing can be further from the truth. Filled with humour, heart, cynicism, and misadventure, My First Wedding’s whirlwind narrative culminates into a perfect storm of marriage clichés.

The betrothed in question are Adrián (Daniel Hendler), a non-practicing Jew, and Leonora (Natalia Oreiro), a quasi-practicing Catholic. With the ceremony already balancing a precarious equilibrium (see previous sentence), Adrián inadvertently knocks it off kilter when he accidently loses the wedding rings, and as the wedding comes crashing down around him, Adrián must try to remedy the situation without furthering the ire of his wife-to-be.

My First Wedding initially feels formulaic, presenting itself as the marital equivalent of Death at a Funeral. The catalyst for the initial comedy
See full article at SoundOnSight »
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