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Larrain’s Alfredo Castro, Antonia Zegers Set for Marcela Said’s ‘The Dogs’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Top Chilean thesps add more heft to anticipated second movie from on-the-rise Chilean helmer

GUADALAJARA – Alfredo Castro, star of Venezuela’s 2015 Venice Golden Lion winner “From Afar” and all of fellow Chilean compatriot Pablo Larrain’s movies through the upcoming “Neruda,” and Antonia Zegers (“No,” “The Life of Fish”) will topline “Los Perros” (“The Dogs”), the anticipated second feature by Chile’s Marcela Said.

“The Dogs” marks Said’s follow-up to “The Summer of Flying Fish,” her debut, a critique of Chile’s bourgeoisie’s disavowal of political realities that was selected for Cannes’ 2013 Directors’ Fortnight, proved one of the new Latin American AMC-Sundance Channel’s first two pick-ups from Latin America, and established Said as one of Latin America’s distaff directors to track.

Zegers will play Mariana, 40, a lonely upper-class woman who chafes at the role her father and husband have created for her of conceiving children. She finds solace with her riding instructor, an exquisitely mannered retired colonel (Castro), who becomes her mentor and object of desire, even – or all the more? — when she discovers he is being prosecuted for his role in the Augusto Pinochet regime’s torture and murder of dissidents. Meanwhile, she discovers her own family was far closer to Pinochet’s dictatorship than she imagined.

“The Dogs” was developed at the Sundance Lab and Cannes Cinefondation Paris workshop and won the Arte Cinema Award at the 2015 Berlinale Co-Production Market. Now closing gap finance, it will shoot beginning in September, said producer Augusto Matte at Jirafa Films, which lead produces “The Dogs” with France’s Cinema Defacto and Argentina’s REI Cine.

The founder of Chile’s Teatro de la Memoria, a playwright, and teacher, Castro gave a performance in “From Afar” that gained him plaudits as an actor of world-class stature. “The grave-faced Castro is among the most calmly, economically expressive actors in the movies these days,” Variety’s Guy Lodge wrote in his “From Afar” review.

Castro broke out for his lead roles in “Tony Manero” and “Post Mortem,” playing in the first a psychotic murderer obsessed with winning a John Travolta dance-alike competition, even while Pinochet’s regime is murdering thousands of Chileans. It’s that inability of Chileans to connect to reality, or the horrifying brutality of Pinochet’s regime that left huge hostages to fortune, which Said returns to in “Fish” and now “The Dogs.”

A well-known TV actress with praised film appearances, Zegers played opposite Castro in “Post Mortem,” a movie which consolidated Pablo Larrain’s reputation.

As in movies by Pablo Larrain, “The Dogs” shows Chile’s new generation of filmmakers assuming the role of their country’s critical conscience.

“The institutional base of Chile is linked to the past. We can see it in cases of corruption nowadays, where companies which were privatized in the past are paying politicians who write the laws,” said producer Augusto Matte.

“We’d like our films to serve as a base for national discussion,” he added. “At the same time, we work with well-known key cast so that our films reach the widest audience possible,” he added, saying that “The Dogs” sets out to be “more narrative and accessible” than “The Summer of Flying Fish.”

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