Undisputed Argentine shock-and-awe royalty, Tamae Garateguy (“She Wolf,” “Las Furias”), is set to begin filming her next feature, “Auxilio” (“Help”). The shoot, an Argentine-Colombian co-production, will start in August and take advantage of locations throughout Buenos Aires.
“Buenos Aires is a vital protagonist. I think it’s a very cinematic city, with neighborhoods that are just as they were 200 years ago, others are the same as they were 50 years ago,” said Garateguy.
The premise promises a horrifying glance at an onerous era that saw the country’s first military coup. Nuns, the wrongfully committed and supernatural forces collide to comment on the torture women suffer at the hands of unjust and unrelenting societies.
“I feel like this film falls into the moment. There’s a lot of anger from women. Supposedly everything is moving forward to produce more equality between men and women, and this clear setback is a little like the film that talks about all of the oppression women face. It takes place in the 1930s. I’d like to think that we’re less oppressed now, but look at what’s happening,” Garateguy told Variety.
She went on: “How can the horror, the helplessness of not being able to scream and the despair it provokes be represented? In recent years, those women who are no longer there because they were murdered, scream through us, the ones that are still here.”
The project is produced by directors Daniel de la Vega of Argentina’s Furia Films (“The Last Heretic”) and Néstor Sánchez Sotelo of Del Toro Films (“The Funeral Home”). The pair previously teamed for the production of “White Coffin,” and HBO and Shudder acquired “On The 3rd Day.”
“Auxilio” employs a largely female cast and technical team to relay the story of the defiant Emilia, who is sent to a convent by her father. The film follows her journey alongside the others interned as paranormal forces start to mount among the holy and the tortured.
The film “will revitalize genre cinema, with a story told by a female eye, with Tamae as director, and also through all the women that are part of the crew and cast, which we proudly confirm, are the large majority in this project,” said Sánchez Sotelo.
Garateguy has garnered high praise on the festival circuit, never shying away from brutality or extreme sexuality. Women’s roles in her projects are written in whole, not in part, and fleshed out beyond the skin to reveal the collective depravity that female independence often conjures.
Her first project, “Pompeya,” a twisted and unrelenting look at the cyclical brutality of the drug trade, snagged best Argentine film at 2010’s Mar Del Plata Film Fest, one of the biggest in Latin America, as well as the Free Spirit Award at the Warsaw International Festival-Poland in 2011; subsequent works played in competition at Bafici, SXSW, Toronto, Morbido and Austin’s Fantastic Fest.
With each film, Garateguy incorporates the fresh perspectives the script asks for. Delving into police thrillers (“10 Palomas”), gangster films (“Pompeya”), Westerns (“Las Furias”) and now the supernatural, she offers an invigorating take on genres vastly dominated by men without compromising the inclusion of savage scenes.
A provocateur, she commented on the escalating shock value an audience demands, “The threshold of shock has changed a lot. It was increasing over the years. The pandemic, reality, is too hard, too putrid, to want to see. I defend the most extreme cinema, the cinema that wants to reach some limit, shock, or representation of evil, of the human being in its worst form – more perverse, animalistic, and more destructive.”
She concluded: “That’s why I’m a great defender of genre cinema, of cinema that seeks shock, an unpleasant place, even. Cinema that provokes the spectator, that’s where it has to be, not in reality. Reality is horrible. I think cinema provides a space for that part of the human being that’s still latent.”
De la Vega hinted that with Garateguy at the helm, “Auxilio” promises the same familiar intensity, “due to the bets and risks taken, this film will mark a before and after in Latin American genre cinema.”