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Prisoners

Carlos Reygadas
Prisioneros
Belgium, Mexico  1999 / 20’

Charles and Bruno were once childhood friends. Years later, when a civil war rages in Belgium, they find themselves behind opposing barricades. Fate will bring them face to face again, this time as guard and captive. When the order is given to execute the prisoner, Charles will have to choose between ideology and scruples.

Reygadas has said that upon his first arrival in Europe, he was shocked by the intensity of nationalist feelings that found their horrifying expression in the Balkan wars of the 1990s. By setting his film in a peaceful, Western country, the director wanted to show how the same mechanisms of conflict can come to life in any society, with the same brutality and the same tragic absurdities.

Krzysztof Świrek

Carlos Reygadas

Carlos Reygadas was born in Mexico City in 1971. At university, he initially studied law with a specialization in international jurisprudence, but later rejected the lawyer’s life for a career in film. His short film debut Maxhumain first screened at an independent filmmaking competition in Belgium in 1999. Only three years later, Reygadas directed his debut feature film Japan, which he also wrote. The film turned heads among critics and received awards at festivals in Cannes, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. His second film, Battle in Heaven (2005), was a Golden Palm nominee in Cannes. As had his debut, it too stirred some controversy, yet at the same time established the director as one of Latin America’s most exciting new talents. His third feature, Silent Light (2007), showed a new maturity from Reygadas, bringing together the major recurrent themes of his work with a vision that recalls the classics of metaphysical cinema. In 2010, the director contributed the short This Is My Kingdom to the collective project Revolution, which brought together young Mexican filmmakers to present their visions of the legacy of the Mexican Revolution at its centennial. His latest film Post Tenebras Lux screened at the Cannes festival in 2012.

Although his filmography counts only four feature films thus far, Reygadas has firmly established a recognizable style. His methods are anything but complacent: he relies mainly on untrained actors, frequently incorporating spontaneous, improvised sequences in his films, but he is also a staunch believer in classical filmmaking methods. In interviews he professes a radical filmmaking vision, but one that is nevertheless rational and coherent. Reygadas demonstrates clarity of though and purpose in his creative choices – his approach to filmmaking is based on clean esthetics, intuition, and critical self-awareness.

Filmography

1999 Max / Maxhumain / Max (short)

1999 Jeńcy / Prisioneros / Prisoners (short)

2002 Japón / Japón / Japan

2004 Filmando Batalla en el cielo

2005 Bitwa w niebie / Batalla en el cielo / Battle in Heaven

2007 Ciche światło / Stellet licht / Silent Light

2010 To jest królestwo moje / Este es mi reino / This Is My Kingdom (segment in Rewolucja / Revolución / Revolution)

2012 Post tenebras lux / Post Tenebras Lux

Prepared by: Krzysztof Świrek

Cast & Crew

director Carlos Reygadas
screenplay Carlos Reygadas
cinematography Diego Martínez Vignatti
editing Daphné Desimpelaere
sound Max Bodson, Karine Zimmerlin
cast Pierre Lekeux, Patrick Mures, Sylvain Honorez, Geneviève Kiné
producer Carlos Reygadas
production Radowski Films, Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía
sales Mantarraya Producciones
language French
colouration colour