Cannes: ‘The Summit’s’ Santiago Mitre on Fiction in Politics, Politics in Fiction

World-premiering at Cannes, "The Summit" will be released in the U.S. by Warner Bros. Pictures

CANNES — World premiering in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, the third feature from Argentine Santiago Mitre (“The Student,” “Paulina”) follows an Argentine President (Ricardo Darín) at a Latin American summit, who is conflicted on a political and personal level. Dolores Fonzi (“Paulina”) plays his daughter, Elena Anaya an Oriana Fallaci-ish journalist, Christian Slater a U.S. diplomat. Sold internationally by Film Factory Ent., “The Summit” is produced by  K & S (Pablo Trapero’s “The Clan”), La Union de los Rios (“Paulina,” “The Student”) Spain’s MOD Producciones (Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Biutiful”) and France’s Maneki Films (Pablo Trapero’s “White Elephant”).  “The Summit” marks a step-up into a far higher-profile production from the Cannes 2015 Critics’ Week winner and co-writer of “White Elephant”. “The Summit” will be released in the U.S. in August via Warner Bros. Pictures.

What drive you to make “The Summit,” a political thriller-drama, what interests you about politics?

Popular on Variety

As an individual living in a society, I am definitively interested in politics. I can talk more about politics than about soccer. “Summit” tells the story of a president who is believed to be a weak leader. But I wanted to explore the personal side to politics. It was like entering a political arena, but sneaking in the back door.

TV series have been been walking the corridors with some regularity, in shoes such as “Boss,” “Veep” and “House of Cards.” What’s the reason for this interest?

Well, the tradition dates back to a long long time ago. Think about Shakespeare. I would say that “House of Cards” is Shakespearian and tragic. I am an Argentine filmmaker linked to Latin America politics and I was interested in how I could introduce a fantastic element into the movie. There’s an important fantasy tradition in Argentine literature. When I found this element in “The Summit’s” story, its interest grew for me. It could seem that there’s something mysterious, enigmatic in the Argentinean politics: The whole truth is never said; somebody is always hiding things. Fantastic elements fit perfectly in the plot. The fantastic touches carry a risk, that the movie could open up to metaphoric readings. But they also opens the door to moral considerations.

And how can this feature be understood in Argentina, for example, due to recent political changes?

I learnt long time ago that politics in Argentina is such a volatile thing that nobody can know what’s going to happen next. However, what is wonderful in cinema is that this movie will be seen by somebody in ten years and they’ll understanding it in a different way. Fiction survives circumstances. Something that always attracts my attention is how politicians build an image about their families and personal lives, how they benefit politically from this fiction. This is where the daughter’s character makes sense in “The Summit.”

Some critics have felt baffled about the combination of a political thriller and a family drama.

[Mitre laughs] What I like most about the film is how it progressively changes from a realistic cast to another close to suspense. That said, it’s impossible to predict how audiences are going to react.

“Blanco is a man like you” a slogan runs about Darin’s character. Sometimes the feature nears black comedy.

This is part of politicians’ character construction. Could an ordinary man be a politician? I honestly do not believe that. Blanco seems an ordinary man. But there’s a moment when a politician is forced to take control of so many elements that he or she irretrievably changes.

What will be your next change in your career?

I am working on a new feature, a historical movie to be shot in Argentina.

Will it be another upscale production feature –like “Summit”– or like your previous films? Could you at least suggest what kind of movie it will be?

It won’t be an easy feature to make. I will make it in Buenos Aires with Argentine actors. It will be a court case film, set in Argentina in 1985 when the heads of Argentina’s Junta was put on trial [for human rights abuse].

More Film

  • SAG Awards Placeholder

    SAG Awards: The Complete Winners List (Updating Live)

    Awards season is in full gear as actors take the spotlight on Sunday. The Screen Actors Guild Awards, recognizing the best film and television performances of the year, is underway. Quentin Tarantino’s ode to old Hollywood, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”; Martin Scorsese’s mob epic “The Irishman”; and Jay Roach’s Fox News drama “Bombshell” [...]

  • SAG Awards Placeholder

    How to Watch 2020 SAG Awards Online

    The 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, honoring the top performers in film and television, is just a few hours away. Although the show is hostless, Joey King and Logan Browning are co-ambassadors of the ceremony, taking place on Sunday at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Popular on Variety The ceremony will be broadcast [...]

  • A Fall from Grace

    'A Fall from Grace': Film Review

    Why stay in your lane when you can veer into other roadways with your own turbo-charged vehicles? With “A Fall from Grace,” mogul Tyler Perry swerves back and forth between his usual woman-centered melodrama and a quasi-thriller. Shot over just five days in late 2019, As is his intriguing way, however, Perry delivers some grace [...]

  • 'Suppressed: The Fight to Vote' Review:

    'Suppressed: The Fight to Vote': Film Review

    In 2018, Stacey Abrams, having served in the Georgia House of Representatives for 10 years, ran as the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia. She was the first African-American woman in the United States to be chosen as a gubernatorial nominee by one of the two major parties. Abrams had tremendous support, and after losing [...]

  • Mike Lowrey (WILL SMITH), Marcus Burnett

    Box Office: 'Bad Boys for Life' Crossing $100 Million Worldwide

    Sony’s “Bad Boys for Life,” the third entry in the Will Smith and Martin Lawrence-led action series, ruled over the global box office and is expected to cross the $100 million mark through the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. The threequel, directed by Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, scored $38.6 million overseas, along [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content