×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cannes: Lucrecia Martel Rolls on ‘Zama’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Much-awaited production, one of Latin America’s biggest, begins shooting

CANNES — Backed by Pedro and Agustin Almodovar and written and directed by Lucrecia Martel, Latin America’s most prominent woman director, “Zama,” one of Latin America’s most awaited and ambitious films, has gone into production.

Benjamin Domenech and Santiago Gallelli’s Buenos Aires-based REI Cine and Vania Catani’s Rio de Janeiro-based Bananeira Films produce “Zama,” which is sold by the Match Factory.

Hinting at its scale, “Zama’s” wide-ranging co-producers range over Spain, Argentina, France, the U.S, and the Netherlands, taking in El Deseo, run by the Almodovar brothers and Esther Garcia; the Disney-backed Patagonik Film Group; France’s MPM Film; Danny Glover and Joslyn Barnes’ Louverture Films; Lemming Film; and Picnic Producciones.

Variety has had exclusive access to an extraordinary concept art photo by Veronica Suoto.

Also written by Martel, her fourth feature — after “La Cienaga,” “The Holy Girl” and “The Headless Woman” — “Zama” adapts the novel of the same name by Argentine Antonio di Benedetto, first published in 1956. Admired by other writers – it is “written with the pulse of a neurosurgeon, said Roberto Bolaño – it is now being recognized as a high-point of Latin American literature.

The film is set toward the end of the 18th century, just before the spark that set off the independence movements. It turns on Don Diego de Zama (Daniel Gimenez Cacho), an officer of the Spanish Crown, who serves out his time in a provincial backwater, awaiting a promotion and transfer to Buenos Aires that never comes. Forced to accept submissively every task entrusted to him by successive Governors, he joins a a party of soldiers that go after a dangerous bandit. Zama leaves to distant lands inhabited by wild Indians and  gains, finally, the chance to live.

Popular on Variety

“Diego de Zama waits many years, trampling over that which he could love, doing things he’d rather not do, betraying, asserting things which he doesn’t believe and acting as if his days were not a part of his life,” commented Martel.

But “Zama” is also that moment in which a man prepares himself to live more fully. And when the opportunity arises and means risking his life, he is willing to,” she added.

“’Zama’ brings us closer, with humor, to a man from the past — in the time of an immense unknown America — who uncannily lives the same conflicts that we are wrestling and contending with in our modern world.”

More Film

  • The Cold Blue

    Erik Nelson Wants to Preserve the Past With 'The Cold Blue' World War II Documentary

    Erik Nelson describes his documentary “The Cold Blue” as “the garage band of movies” — he didn’t have the large team or crew other documentary contenders have. “The Cold Blue” is a World War II documentary that looks at raids and B-17 bombing missions that took place during the war. Nelson’s team looked at 34 [...]

  • Ray Manzarek

    Film News Roundup: Concert-Documentary 'The Doors: Break on Thru' Set for February

    In today’s film news roundup, one-night showings of a Ray Manzarek tribute and the season premiere of “Doctor Who” have been set for 2020, and the MPAA hires a copyright expert. ONE-NIGHT SHOWINGS The Doors and Trafalgar Releasing are teaming on the worldwide Feb. 12 release of “The Doors: Break on Thru – A Celebration [...]

  • Richard Jewell

    Warner Bros. Hits Back at Atlanta Paper Over 'Richard Jewell' Legal Threat

    Warner Bros. is standing behind “Richard Jewell,” the Clint Eastwood drama that is the source of controversy over its portrayal of a female journalist trading sex for scoops. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sent a legal threat to the filmmakers on Monday asking them to include a disclaimer noting that the film took dramatic license. In a [...]

  • The Irishman

    'Captain Marvel,' 'The Irishman,' Other Original Scores to Miss Out on Oscar Nominations

    The Regina Spektor song from “Bombshell” and at least six major scores including “The Two Popes” and “The Irishman” won’t be on Oscar’s music shortlists when they are announced next week. That’s because none of them are on the official Academy eligibility lists from which music-branch members are now voting. Preliminary voting ends tomorrow afternoon, [...]

  • Golden Globes Zodiac signs

    Golden Globes Nominees as Zodiac Signs

    The Golden Globes nominees aren’t the only stars of awards season. Variety turned to astrology to assign Zodiac signs to this year’s nominees. Some selections required a little more nuance — Olivia Wilde’s “Booksmart” is a Virgo with a prominent Sagittarius rising and Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” is a Sagittarius that wishes it were a [...]

  • Two-time Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks portrays one

    How Production Designer Jade Healy Recreated the Beautiful Neighborhood of Mister Rogers

    Production designer Jade Healy is doing double duty this awards season. For one, her work can be seen in Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story.” There, she created a world of angst and individuality, making use of negative space as a couple reaches the end of their relationship. In Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content