MADRID — Swooping in on a just-announced San Sebastian main competition title, Paris-based Luxbox has picked up world sales rights to the noirish retro drama-thriller “Rojo,” from Benjamin Naishtat, one of Argentina’s most highly-rated on-the-rise auteurs.
Also one of the biggest titles now coming out of Argentina and a Naishtat passion project developed over years, “Rojo” is set in an Argentine province in 1975 against a expanding wave of political violence, often perpetrated by illegal police squads.
Its prologue kicks off with Dr. Claudio Mora, an upstanding lawyer being attacked outside a restaurant by a stranger who pulls a gun, shoots himself but doesn’t die. In a fateful decision, Mora abandons the still-living stranger in the nearby desert. Consumed by guilt, he begins to discover a whole world of subterfuge, corruption and violence beneath the placid surface of provincial Argentina….
Naishtat’s follow-up to his debut, “History of Fear,” which world premiered in 2014 Berlinale main competition, and then the more experimental, b/w “The Movement,”“Rojo” weighs into San Sebastian with a Latin American dream cast – Argentina’s Dario Grandinetti – star of Pedro Almodóvar’s “Talk to Her,” co-star of “Julieta” – as Mora; and Chile’s Alfredo Castro, star of many Pablo Larrain movies, and recently seen in “Los Perros.”
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Written by Naishtat, “Rojo” also packs an impressive cadre of pedigree producers in the kind of multilateral Latin American-European co-production which is often these days marks out a movie with overseas theatrical distribution ambitions.
Barbara Sarasola-Day and Federico Eubuszyc lead-produce for Argentina’s Pucará Cine. Co-producers are Rachel Ellis at Brazil’s Desvía, Emmanuel Chaumet’s Paris-based Ecce Films, Marleen Slot at Amsterdam’s Viking Film, and Ingmar Trost’s Sutor Kolonko in Germany. “Rojo” is also co-produced by Geneva’s Bord Cadre Films and Jamal Veinal Zade.
“We are extremely proud to handle the worldwide sales of the new film of the Argentinian director Benjamin Naishtat, a real projection of a vision of cinema,” said Fiorella Moretti and Hédi Zardi, calling “Rojo” “Naishtat’s most ambitious project, a remarkable elegance of gesture.”
They went on: “His score boldly juggles with his story’s different layers: the story of a country on the eve of a dictatorship; the cracked façade of established families of power; and the guilt that consumes baseness of human nature, playing, with a certain humor, with the ardent expectation of his audience, until the incandescent red light of a burning eclipse … a red moon.”
After having directed ‘History of Fear,’ Naishtat is continuing to portray man’s fate with perhaps this time, a history of guilt,” they concluded.
Eibuszyc and Sarasola-Day described San Sebastian competition as “undoubtedly a magnificent framework for a film like this” and “Rojo” as a “huge and unforgettable adventure.”