After winning the top prize at this year’s Locarno International Film Festival’s Signs of Life sidebar section (a program dedicated to “investigating experimental forms of narration and innovations in film language”), Nelson Carlo de los Santos Arias’ “Cocote” will next hit TIFF’s similarly ambitious Wavelengths section later this month. Bundled up in a surprisingly staid plot — a man returns home to help bury his father, and family dramas come to a head — is a bold and unnerving drama about personal choice and religious power.
Per the film’s official synopsis, it “is the story of Alberto, an evangelical gardener, returns to his hometown to attend his father’s funeral, killed by an influential man. To mourn the deceased, he is forced to participate in religion celebrations that are contrary to his will and beliefs.”
In our exclusive new trailer, that story is at the fore, but so is a naturalistic filming style that belies the filmmaker’s documentarian past, one that also hints at some shocks to come.
The film stars Vicente Santos, Judith Rodríguez, Yuberbi de la Rosa, Pedro Sierra, Isabel Spencer, and José Miguel Fernander.
De los Santos Arias studied cinematography in Buenos Aires then later at Edinburgh College of Art, where he started making experimental work. He received his MFA in Film/Video at CalArts, during which he made the documentary “Pareces una carreta de esas que no la para ni lo’ bueye,” which screened at a variety of festivals in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America, including Tropical Uncanny at the Guggenheim, New York. The filmmaker later debuted his thesis, “Santa Teresa Y Otras Historias,” at FID Marseille, where it won Georges de Beauregard’s Prize, after which it was selected for TIFF, the New York Film Festival, Viennale, and the Mar del Plata International Film Festival.
In short, he’s a filmmaker on the rise, and “Cocote” only continues to show off his prodigious talents. “Cocote” will next screen at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it will be seeking distribution. Check out our exclusive trailer below.