Netflix’s first Uruguayan original, “Togo” by Israel Adrian Caetano, is set to bow in the spring, most likely in April. Described by Caetano as an urban Western, “Togo” marks Caetano’s first film since 2015.
“Seven years have passed since I made ‘The Lost Brother’ [‘El Otro Hermano’]; I’m back with my first love,” said Caetano who has been working on TV series aside from taking a pandemic-induced hiatus in recent years.
The film is currently in post at Federico Moreira’s LaMayorCine, which produced and provided post-production services to Sundance World Competition entry “Utama.”
“Federico and I have been wanting to work together for some time now, but he’s on board only as the sound director here; hopefully next time,” said Caetano whose company, La Expresion del Deseo, partnered with Luis Ara’s Trailer Films and Ignacio Jaunsolo’s Ska Films to co-produce “Togo.”
The titular Togo, played by Argentine actor Diego Alonso (“Okupas”), is one of Montevideo’s sizeable number of marginalized people who offer to watch your car for a token fee. He’s forced to defend his turf and that of his neighbors’ when drug cartels attempt to make him and his street pals work for them.
Caetano based his story on the tragic outcome of Uruguay’s economic crisis of 2002 which drove some people like Togo, many of them of African descent, to roam the streets of Montevideo, living off menial jobs they make up, he asserted.
He wrote this story in February 2021, presented it to Netflix, which almost immediately greenlit it, and by September of the same year, they were filming on the streets of Montevideo.
“Togo” is he first film Caetano has produced in Uruguay, having produced and shot more films in Argentina where he lives part of the time. “I’ve lived in Uruguay for a year now and am discovering that there are so many stories to tell. The country has many unique qualities and has lately experienced a great influx of immigrants, especially from Venezuela and Cuba, which provokes change, both good and bad,” he pointed out, adding: “Around 13% of Uruguay’s population is of African descent but they are marginalized, virtually invisible.”
A leading light of the New Argentine Cinema, Caetano first broke out in 1998 with his career-launching crime drama “Pizza, Beer and Cigarettes,” co-directed with Bruno Stagnaro, which heralded a new wave of Argentine movies made by fresh young talents. He is also known for crime thriller “Red Bear” and “Bolivia,” about a Bolivian immigrant working illegally as a cook in Buenos Aires where he is subjected to abuse and racial bias by the restaurant’s clientele.