Imagine this situation: a kiosk in the center of The RiojaA man with an aged white beard enters, long hair without traces of a comb. He takes out a bag in which he begins to pour all kinds of chocolates. The kiosk doubts the situation, this scruffy bearded man does not seem like a man who can afford so many chocolates, but he effectively takes out his wallet, pays, and leaves with a bag full of goodies.
The next day the newsstand opens the newspaper and sees a photo: the bearded man is Osvaldo Laport, who is filming a movie in La Rioja. The newsstand reads the title of the movie: Dead man, and it feels a bit like that too, you can’t believe you couldn’t recognize it and ran out of the selfie.
This anecdote accounts for the characterization that Laport has achieved for Almeida, an old circus man who decides to stay and live in a forgotten town.
Dead man from Andrés Tambornino and Alejandro Gruz, with the association of ADART and JUMP Producciones, is the kick-off of an ambitious project that the Ministry of Tourism and Cultures of La Rioja through its Film Directorate, began to develop to turn the province into a North Audiovisual Pole.
The seed is sown. Dead Man finished filming last Friday, 15 technicians from La Rioja participated. For many of them it represents the first experience in a feature film.
Meanwhile, the cast led by Laport, with renowned actors such as Roly Serrano, Daniel Valenzuela, Sebastián Francini and Diego Velázquez, It also features local actresses and actors such as Yani Campos, known in her province as “Peque”, who embodies the woman of Laport’s character, and Harold Aguero (25), a theater student from Catamarca in La Rioja who plays an important role in the story.
Tambornino’s script is located in a town in decline, where there is a mine that closed years ago. There a mysterious character appears who wants to buy the mine with the promise of reactivating the economy of the place, but in return demands that they kill a person who lives in the town. Doing the right thing or being corrupted by a promise is one of the questions posed by the film.
“I like to say it’s a dystopian Western, because it happens nowhere and in no time,” he says. Daniel Burak, Executive producer.
We are in the Los Colorados nature reserve, in a place left by the Branch A3 of the Belgrano Railway which worked until 1990. The old station is still there, while the houses are a living memory of the dismantling of the railroad: many were built with railroad ties, and the ranches built for the film attest to this.
Nearby is the Chacho Peñaloza Cave, one of the leaders who give La Rioja that special identity pride that you feel as soon as you step on Rioja soil.
In Los Colorados live 74 people integrated into 22 families. They are mostly grazing, but these days they have also been part of the production as extras. “We’re going to be on television,” laughs Juan Mercado, one of the young shepherds, who says that now many people have come to meet the town and collectives have come with students. Cabritos and quesillos are some of the products that the town generates.
Although most of Dead Man takes place there, scenes were also made in the towns of Amaná and Chepes. The locations were proposed by the Film Commission La Rioja of the Film Directorate headed by Hebe Estrabou. The landscape already contains its own color palette.
“From the beginning we were looking for a place like this, a town in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by a wonderful landscape. We search in several provinces and We arrived here because we loved it and because the State supported us. With his intention of developing an audiovisual pole in the province, he gave us fundamental support ”, he told Catamarca/12, Burack.
The producer stressed that the film “does not happen in environments that we control easily, such as in a bar or an apartment on a Buenos Aires sidewalk. Beyond the landscape, we are doing it in a place where there is no signal, no telephone communication or internet, everything is far away, it is a difficulty that translates into almost virgin images for national cinema and in contact with the people of La Rioja that has had a collaboration not only logistical but also of soul and the identity that is impregnated in the film ”, he commented.
El Almeida, by Osvaldo Laport, was wandering about 300 meters from the old station. While they install a sign of the tracks for a scene that will be filmed at night, Laport shares his time with us: “I am moved because beyond my story and a character, each of the days has been a party of fragility in the good sense of the word, sensitivity and professionalism “, says the actor.
Laport, has the sensitivity to the surface of the skin; he feels identified with Almeida: “I have one of my characters who is historically a clown, and this character was a clown.” And he adds with little water in his eyes: “As for the telluric also, I grew up in a very small town, in a railway station in Uruguay, Juan Jackson.”
About his character Almeida, he says: “he is a man who knew he had had a circus and who lived a moment of glory and made a decision to stay in the town, put down roots, fall in love, they are expecting a child, but I can’t spoil the story anymore (laughter)”.
And he concludes: “Everyone has made a great effort and we are very moved by the accompaniment of the province of La Rioja.
Yani Campos “La Peque”, as everyone knows her, is a young circus from Rioja, a member of the prestigious Blue Circus, who makes her first experience in cinema no less than as a companion of Laport. “My first movie, my first experience, with these actors that, thank God, life introduced them to me,” she enthuses.
“Today I have mixed feelings, it is my last scene”, he tells us minutes before starting to shoot. “Living this experience is a dream, I am like in a cloud. And I had a very relaxed time because having such good companions, everything was very simple ”. As of the film, Peque already has another proposal for a character with the same production company.
Regarding the opportunity that opens the La Rioja Audiovisual Pole, he pointed out: “As a Riojan I am happy because an opening is opening both for tourism and gastronomy, many tourists were arriving from the different locations where we had filming the movie.”
In the same sense, another of the local debutants, Harold Agüero, He confided to Catamarca / 12: “This project is a great opportunity that gives us actors and actresses a chance, and it is beautiful that it can be seen for the rest of the country.” Agüero is from Pomán, Catamarca, and is studying the third year of Theater in the teaching staff of La Rioja.
“As long as we can make movies, we make movies,” says Burak, reflecting on the current state of cinema. “The market is highly fluctuating and faces a monster that tries to prevent national cinema. It is the people who sometimes consume it more and sometimes consume it less, because the influence of the powerful is not hermetic. of the market, “he warns.
Regarding the market, he clarifies that he does not make a film thinking about a purely commercial issue, but neither does he evade the issue: “Before the pandemic we knew that it was extremely difficult to compete with superhero films and special effects”.
Burak adds: “We know that theaters are commercial ventures and there are almost no rooms like those of the 60s, owned by other crazy people who were participants in a movie craze and who were willing to lose money sometimes because they wanted to do so. A film by such an author would be seen. That practically does not exist, they are commercial chains that put the merchandise that sells the most at the tip of the gondola and push to the bottom the one that sells less and we know that we cannot let the market regulate everything now. Sometimes the Institute, even with its good intentions, we know that it is not the most powerful in many aspects, in the face of economic and global power, it is limited what the State can do and it does not do everything it can due to methodological, circumstantial flaws, etc. .; for there to be an importance of national cinema in the market, interests would have to be addressed ”.
Finally, both Burak and Gruz thanked La Rioja, and “especially the Minister of Tourism and Culture Gustavo Luna, to the person in charge of the Director of Cinema Hebe Estrabou, the mayors and their teams of Patquía, Chilecito and very especially that of Chepes –Cristian Perez– that he opened his house to us and gave the film all the help that was in his hands and a little more “.