Maintaining its acquisition of select upscale fest hits, Philadelphia-based Breaking Glass Pictures has picked up North American rights to “Jesus,” Fernando Guzzoni’s wrenching father-son drama-thriller which is set against a background of youth cut adrift in contemporary Chile.
Well-reviewed – Variety praised Guzzoni’s “striking” second feature – “Jesus” will have its U.S. premiere on Jan. 27 at the Neighboring Voices Series held by the Film Society of New York’s Lincoln Center.
Chilean Guzzoni established himself as a talent to track winning the San Sebastian New Directors Award with his debut, “Dog Flesh,” a portrait of a former torturer under Augusto Pinochet, suggesting old habits of violence die hard.
Exploring the anomie of much modern day youth and Chile’s generational chasm and insinuating the spinelessness of an older generation of Chileans, “Jesus” joins a Breaking Glass film roster which includes Xavier Dolan’s Cannes-winner “Laurence Anyways,” Dominican Republic-set “Sand Dollars,” featuring a tearaway performance by Geraldine Chaplin, and Alex de la Iglesia’s “My Big Night,” a Hobbesian comedic take on a New Year’s Eve TV show shot during the dog days of August.
World premiering at Toronto, then segueing to competition at San Sebastián, “Jesus” turns on an 18-year-old high-school student (Nicolás Durán, “No Filter”) who leads a rudderless existence. He dances in a school K-pop band, does drugs with his friends, watches narco execution snuff movies, has sex with a girl in a park.
One night, just for a lark it seems, Jesus and his friends commit a terrible if cavalier crime. Appalled he’ll be found out, Jesus turns to his estranged father (Alejandro Goic, “Neruda,” “The Club”) for suport. What happens next is perhaps the most discomfiting part of the film.
“In a Lacanian sense,” fathers work “as entries into society” who “set the rules, give you identity,” Guzzoni has commented.
But Jesus’s mother is dead, and his father, Hector, often out of the house for work. Even when he is at home, he hardly provides the moral compass Jesus so desperately needs beyond ordering his son around.
That could be due in art to the generational gulf between Hector, who “carries an internalised repression” and has a “life-moral that refers to work, and Jesus’ world, which “is hyper-globalized, hyper-sexualized and, at the same time, non-ideological,” Guzzoni added.
Breaking Glass Pictures is planning a festival run after the Lincoln Centre bow, followed by a limited theatrical release in mid-2017, before a DVD/VOD release.
Richard Wolff, CEO of Breaking Glass, and Amanda Rae Simon, negotiated the deal with Jean-Charles Mille, CEO, and Leslie Saussereau of Premium Films.
“Fernando Guzzoni has crafted an intense and unrelenting thriller about the strained relationship between a dysfunctional father and son,” said Richard Ross, Breaking Glass co-president.
He added: “Featuring a brave and mesmerizing performance by Nicolás Durán, “Jesús” will startle you with its shocking portrayal of violence, sexuality, and betrayal.”
Lensed by ace Uruguayan cinematographer Barbara Alvarez (“The Second Mother”), “Jesus” is lead-produced by Jacques Bidou and Marianne Dumoulin’s Paris-based JBA Production and Giancarlo Nasi’s QuijoteRampante Films in Santiago de Chile.