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Battle in Heaven

Carlos Reygadas
Batalla en el cielo
Mexico, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands  2005 / 98’

Marcos is a working man. But his wages as a driver for a Mexican general do not suffice for his needs. In a desperate act, he kidnaps a baby, hoping to extract ransom. But before his plan can come to fruition, the infant unexpectedly dies. Tormented with guilt, Marcos confesses his secret to Ana, his employer’s daughter, with whom he is in love. She attempts to convince him that he should turn himself in to the police. As in his debut feature, Reygadas relied on untrained actors in making Battle in Heaven. The resulting character portrayals are intriguing. Cityscapes replace the mountain vistas of Japan. Reygadas once again draws on the work of forebears, notably Antonioni. His city is not ultimately decadent or corrupt: though crowded, noisy and aggressive, it kindly offers Carlos an escape when he needs it most. Reygadas displays a virtuoso flair in assembling polished sequences into a seamlessly harmonious whole.

Krzysztof Świrek

awards

Rio de Janeiro IFF 2005 – FIPRESCI Prize

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

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Cast & Crew

director Carlos Reygadas
screenplay Carlos Reygadas
cinematography Diego Martínez Vignatti
editing Adoración G. Elipe, Benjamin Mirguet, Carlos Reygadas, Nicolas Schmerkin
music John Tavener
sound Gilles Laurent
cast Marcos Hernández, Anapola Mushkadiz, Bertha Ruiz, David Bornstein, Rosalinda Ramirez
producer Philippe Bober, Susanne Marian, Carlos Reygadas, Jaime Romandia
production Coproduction Office, No Dream Cinema, Mantarraya Producciones, Tarantula, Arte France Cinéma, Universidad de Guadalajara, ZDF/Arte
sales Coproduction Office
language Spanish
colouration colour