The release of “El tigre escondido” (The Hidden Tiger) has been postponed for a third time in Argentina, with exhibitors fearing protests because the film features a jailed nightclub owner in a small role.
Incaa, the state film authority, scrapped a Feb. 15 release in a circuit it programs for local pics that go out with a few copies. It includes indie houses and multiplexes of Cinemark, Hoyts General Cinema and Village Cines.
Lensed in 2003, “Tiger” — a jet-black comedy about a midlife crisis — features Omar Chaban in a minor role as a psychologist.
Chaban, a flamboyant rock music impresario, is behind bars awaiting trial on manslaughter charges. He faces up to 25 years for involvement in a December 2004 fire at his Buenos Aires nightclub Republica Cromagnon that killed 196. The fire broke out during an overbooked rock concert. Several exits were bolted shut.
Director-producer Luis Barone (“Buenos Aires plateada”), who is distributing “Tiger” under his KAOS Cooperativa de Trabajo banner, said he would take legal action to get it released.
“It’s agonizing,” he said. “I wake up in the morning and I cannot believe that there’s no distinction between reality and fiction. It is discrimination and censorship.”
The problem of Chaban “doesn’t have anything to do with the film,” he said.
Days before the postponement, the Argentine Chamber of Multiplex Exhibitors (CAEM) said they feared screening “Tiger” could spark protests by the families of the Cromagnon victims and theaters might be damaged. Their demonstrations last year led to the impeachment of Buenos Aires Mayor Anibal Ibarra for inadequate enforcement of safety regulations at the club.
“We expressed our concern to Incaa about how they were going to handle the issue,” said Heriberto Brown, general manager of Hoyts in Argentina and treasurer of CAEM. “Incaa made the decision” to postpone the release.
Incaa said it would reprogram “Tiger,” which screened in festivals in Montreal, Paris and Rio de Janeiro, but didn’t provide a date or say how it would deal with exhibs’ worries.
With three strikes against the pic, Barone is considering a straight-to-DVD release.