Hot on the heels of Participant Media’s recent production announcement of Lluis Quilez’s supernatural thriller “Out of the Dark,” which is likely to be infused with political undertones, the company announced another Spanish production set in the Latin American jungle, “El Ardor,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Alice Braga. The first feature in Participant’s PanAmerica banner, and the company’s second collaboration with Bernal after Pablo Larrain’s recent “No,” the project stars Bernal as a man who emerges from the Argentinean
rainforest to rescue the kidnapped daughter (Braga) of a poor farmer
killed by mercenaries who seized his property. Can you say class struggle?
Bernal’s Mexico-based Canana Films has consistently championed projects that tackle substantive political issues, whether their other recent collaboration, “Chavez,” Diego Luna’s
portrait of U.S. civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, the recent migrant documentary “Who is Dayani Crystal?” which I reviewed at Sundance, or the more subtextual politics of “Come Out and Play,” (pictured) a horror film which features a privileged white couple terrorized by a group of demonic Hispanic children.
In his recent acting roles, whether Julia Loktev’s “The Loneliest Planet” or the upcoming “Deserted Cities,” he’s tackling complex male-female dynamics through wider geopolitical lenses.
Bernal, always laid back during encounters with the press, doesn’t exude the righteous indignation of a political activist, but his choice of projects reflects the passion of a Warren Beatty or Robert Redford. And just like those American stars, he’s channeling his good looks into social awareness.