On the heels of its world premiere at Locarno’s Cineasti del Presente and coinciding with upcoming festival bows at Seville and Mar del Plata, auteur-focused distribution house Alief has shared in exclusivity with Variety the trailer and key art for Santiago Fillol’s first solo feature, “Matadero.”
An ode to class struggle and unflinching ego, the film simultaneously enters international competition in Spain and Argentina this week alongside French director Alice Diop’s buzzy “Saint Omer” and “Tres Hermanos,” filmmaker Francisco J. Paparella’s absorbing follow-up to debut feature “Zanjas.”
Begin Again films handles Spanish distribution on “Matadero” with Alief handling international sales rights.
‘It’s a real joy to see the crossover of arthouse cinema, now also being recognised as an elevated horror genre. “Matadero” is able to voice a visual that’s both visceral and tender, that speaks to both arthouse and genre audiences,’ relayed Brett Walker, president of Alief.
The film follows a lauded independent U.S. filmmaker, Jared (Julio Perillán) who encroaches on the pampas of 1970s Argentina to film his passion project, “Matadero,” drawing from the essential Argentine literary work of the same name.
While at first he receives unflinching admiration from those surrounding him, his ego begins to eat away at the production, causing discord between this unsung antihero and his crew. A narrative within the narrative starts to unravel as this story of societal divide tests the morality of each character on screen.
“Matadero” is a starkly maniacal take on self-importance and appropriation, remarking further on caste systems and humanity’s propensity towards self-segregation in the guise of solidarity. The trailer teases the descent of a clandestine production as it opens with the white light from a movie projector cast over Jared, who stares through the mist in pensive delusion.
Young assistant Vicenta (Malena Villa) sits beside the machine in awe, her present-day voice lending context to the arduous process of creating the movie that plays before them, shown in snippets. A flashback to scenes where she heads up its production unspool, her dedication showcased as she’s hoisted by the crew while chasing the perfect shot.
As the scenes continue to unravel the chaotic and peculiar set, her voiceover carries the tension in bittersweet disbelief. The shoot, hanging mid-air and by a thread, is threatened by Jared’s thirst for realistic violence, and scenes begin to depict the mounting grievances and deviant obstacles.
Vicenta’s narration shifts from fond to fragile as the trailer wraps. Aging hands entwine in the backseat of a car that drives through a crowd chanting “murderer.” The title splays across the screen, blood red, leaving the ominous tone firmly in place, a tone fitting for a film damned by the unhinged antics of the man at its helm who stopped at nothing to create art far outside convention.
In the poster, Vicenta is the focus. She grasps the camera firmly, one eye closed to capture the shot. Once more, “Matadero” is spelled out in red against a hazy, neutral backdrop.
The cast wholly envelop their roles, intimately bound by the script and their raw, shared performances. While Perillán (Frágil) and Villa (“El Angel”) anchor the story, Rafeal Federman (“The Sleepwalkers), Alilin Salas (“Lulu”), Ernestina Gatti (“Bailarina”), David Szechtman (“Hortensia”) and Lina Gorbeneva (“The Tree Of Blood”) play into roles just as important to the narrative as the protagonists.
‘It’s a sight to behold the magnetic chemistry of leads Julio Perillán and Malena Villa in this tense and brilliant thriller that keeps the viewer guessing every step of the way,” remarked Miguel Angel Govea, Partner at Alief.
The film is an ambitious co-production between Fernando Molnar and Sebastián Schindel at Argentina’s Magoya Films (“El Patrón”) and Antonio Pita at Cordoba-based Prisma Ciné (“El Vasco”), alongside Andrea Queralt at France’s 4à4 Productions (“Fire Will Come”) and José Ángel Alayon and Marina Alberti at Spain’s El Viaje Films (“El Mar Nos Mira De Lejos”) and Tània Balló at Catalonia’s Nina Films.
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