Un Certain Regard | Update : 06.05.19 . 3:28 PM

La Cordillera: interview with Santiago Mitre

Film still of La Cordillera (The Summit)

Film still of La Cordillera (The Summit) © Diego Araya

Latin-American heads of state gather for a summit in a remote hotel in the Andes. In La Cordillera (The Summit) at Un Certain Regard, the Argentinian creator of Paulina (La Patota, 2015) explores the reactions of a serving president (Ricardo Darín) caught up in a personal scandal involving his daughter.

Tell us about your film's origins

My two previous films had connections to politics already: El Estudiante (The Student) was a story of political discovery, and Paulina depicted the engagement with politics of a young woman whose life was turned upside down by a tragic event. I wanted to go even further with La Cordillera and create a portrait of a major political figure; a man whose profession is politics. I wanted his public and private lives to face off against each other, to show the man behind the politician. It so happens that my father worked for Mercosur for a long time and would often attend those international summits, where the powerful from that world gather. That's where the idea came from of setting the story at a summit of that type, somewhere in Latin America. But I did not want to make a political thriller. My scriptwriting partner, Mariano Llinás and I chose to steer the story more towards strangeness, to establish an almost fantasy-like atmosphere, while remaining rooted in reality.

How did you choose the settings?

The hotel does not really exist. It's a mixture of several places. Only the exterior shots were filmed in one single site, at an altitude of 3,600 metres in Chile. The interior shots were filmed in several hotels in Chile and Argentina. The idea was to create a place whose atmosphere could draw the film towards the strange: a place lost in the distant outskirts of Santiago de Chile, somewhere in the Andes mountains.

It was essential for us to be able to film in the actual places where the action was set, where real power is wielded. The office of Hernán Blanco is therefore the real presidential office. We had access to the Casa Rosada for a whole night and a whole Sunday. Likewise, were also able to film in the real presidential plane.

Would you like to say something about your actors?

I would never have made La Cordillera without Ricardo Darin. I offered him the role as soon as I knew I wanted to make a film whose hero was the president of Argentina. The first time we discussed it I was in Paris, in the middle of mixing Paulina. Ricardo Darin later agreed, and I began to write the screenplay. For me, he is the only Argentine actor who has the stature and energy to play such a character. He is very charismatic. Every actor who plays a president in the film is famous in his or her country, because I wanted actors of a high enough status to bear the weight of such characters. That was more of an artistic choice that a commercial one. Above all it was about credibility. For the American adviser, I wanted an actor who embodied the very prototype of the American and I loved Christian Slater's work in the series Mister Robot. I needed an actor who could appear as affable as he was Machiavellian. It was all the more important that he should only have one single scene; but that scene is decisive in Blanco's journey and in the turn the film takes. So we sent him the screenplay and he accepted the role straight away.




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