MADRID — Variety has had first access to a highly symbolic poster of a high-profile Latin American film from one of its fast-rising woman directors, Cannes Critics’ Week entry “Los Perros,” from Chile’s Marcela Said (pictured) whose debut “The Summer of Flying Fish” was a first AMC-Sundance Channel pickup for its newly-launching Latin American service.
Created by Guillermo Lorca, the poster shows a young girl surrounded by a pack of hounds, all on on a red luxury carpet draped over a mound. More than anything else, the poster is unsettling in its ambivalence: the young girl wears a white dress, which could be a symbol of innocence, though her blue-rinse hair and knowing look contradict that impression. The red rug, at first glimpse, looks like a heap of blood drenched cadavers, of dogs or maybe even human beings. The dogs range from serene to one sniffing at the carpet, as if it has discovered something beneath.
If the poster is ambivalent, so too, and very pointedly, is “Los Perros”- in its take on human character and Chile’s recent, bloody past under dictator Augusto Pinochet, that has left multiple hostages to fortune, if a rough-cut of “Los Perros,” shown at France’s Toulouse Cinelatino Festival, was anything to go by.
Written by Said, “Los Perros” charts the growing sexual attraction of an upper-class 42-year-old woman, Mariana (Antonia Zegers) towards Juan, her 60-year-old riding instructor (Alfredo Castro), despite the former army coronel’s being suspected of human rights abuse during the Pinochet regime. Never taken seriously by either her husband or father, who have put her on a fertility treatment, subjugating her to the role of a mother, Mariana spends more and more time with Juan, a straight-backed gentleman in his treatment of Mariana ostracized by Chile’s upper class. Investigating Juan’s past, she stumbles on suggestions that her own church-attending father could have been far more implicated than he lets on in the torture and murder of Chileans under Pinochet.
A film where the only man of principle is suspected of human rights abuse and many of Chile’s still ruling upper-class seem to have been at least “passive accomplices” – in the words of an investigating police inspector – in Pinochet’s human rights abuse, Said’s portrait of contemporary Chile and indeed human nature is riddled by ambivalence. What lies under the red – or blood-drenched – carpet in the poster is left to the viewer’s imagination. As are many of the historical events under Pinochet hinted at in “Los Perros.” Not that Chile’s ruling class, as depicted in the film at least, seem to care about the past at all.
Also significant on the poster is its producer’s credit roll: France’s Cinema Defacto and Chile’s Jirafa Films lead produce in co-production with Argentina’s REI Cine, Terratreme Filmes in Portugal and Germany’s Augenschein Filmproduktion. Seven funds also back “Los Perros.” Minimizing economic risk, co-production allows directors to maximizes artistic risk if they should want – necessary if a film is to stand out in such a crowded field as the foreign-language arthouse scene today.