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.”
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.”