by Benjamín Harguindey
In which we cover the avant premiere of The Summit (La Cordillera), one of Argentina’s most highly anticipated movies of the year.
Ever since the Academy Award-winning turn of The Secret in Their Eyes (El secreto de sus ojos, 2009) it seems every year Argentina churns out at least one Hollywood-sized production headed by a small rotating cast of A-listers in an attempt to catch lightning again. Last year it was with The Distinguished Citizen (El ciudadano ilustre), which competed at Venice and earned lead Oscar Martínez Best Actor. The previous year Pablo Trapero had won Best Director for The Clan (El clan). And the year before it was the turn of Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes), contender for both the Oscar and the Palm d’Or, to date Argentina’s highest-grossing movie of all time.
This year it’s the turn for The Summit, a political/psychological thriller starring Ricardo Darín as Hernán Blanco, a fictional Argentine president who travels to a summit meeting atop the Andes mountain to confer with other Latin American state leaders over the controversial subject of energy distribution. Blanco is soon being pressured on all sides by his scheming cohorts, as well as his unhinged daughter Marina (Dolores Fonzi), who threatens to tarnish Blanco’s impeccable reputation.
The movie was directed by Santiago Mitre and written by Mitre and Mariano Llinás. In attendance to the press conference of August 1st held at the Buenos Aires Hoyts Cinema multiplex were Mitre and actors Darín, Fonzi and Gerardo Romano.
The Summit was made in co-production with Chile, Spain and France, features an international cast hailing from all across Iberian America (including a crucial guest appearence from Christian Slater) and was shot on location in the Andean mountain range as well as the Argentine ‘Casa Rosada’, the official presidential workplace. It is bound to be this year’s biggest local release, rivalled only by Black Snow, another snowy thriller starring Darín and Fonzi, and Lucrecia Martel‘s upcoming Zama.
During the conference’s Q&A Mitre and Darín were careful to sidestep any parallels between the current political climate of the country (always one of social unrest) and the fiction seen on film. “The movie was long in the making,” stated Mitre, “The reality of Argentina is so volatile it’s impossible to keep up with it. This is a fictitious story and that was always the intention“. Darín also remarked that they “were always careful not to give the characters too much of a real-life equivalents“. Mitre did mention however interviewing a former president for research. Who, he wouldn’t disclose.
On the subject of volatile reality, Christian Slater called the director at one point, worried that the surprising results of the United States 2016 presidential election might require his part – a meddling CIA spook with a deal for Blanco – to be rewritten. “I told him not to worry,” joked Mitre, “The way the US treats us doesn’t change one way or the other“.
The casting of Slater wasn’t even brought up during the conference, perhaps for the best – too often audiences fixate on anything redolent of Hollywood, to the point of reducing it to a stunt or a novelty (though in fairness, his one scene provides one of the movie’s high points). And on the subject of striking casting choices, there’s Dolores Fonzi as Ricardo Darín’s daughter. Fonzi has played everything from love interest to cousin to sister to Darín. “Daughter” seems a bit awkward, whether you consider their film history together or their measly age difference. One wonders if a younger, different actress didn’t get the part because Fonzi is partner to the movie’s director (since starring in his 2015 movie The Gang).
The Summit screened earlier this year at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard and will premiere in Argentina on August 16th. Stay tuned for our review!
Benjamín Harguindey / Managing Editor, Writer (Mar del Plata, Argentina – 1989) Screenwriter graduated from Universidad del Cine, Buenos Aires. Benja’s worked for EscribiendoCine as a film critic since 2010, covering the Biarritz, San Sebastián and Venice festivals. He judged the CILECT Prize and won several writing & criticism contests. He’s published one novel, Noches de Tartaria (2006).