A feature film project by Santiago Palavecino * The original Spanish title, Los Mareados, refers to a famous tango about a fleeting, passionate and ill-fated drunken affair.
Synopsis Somewhere between The Lives of Others and Match Point, Dizzy (Los Mareados) is a romantic thriller that takes place in Buenos Aires in the days just before the terrorist bombing of the AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) building on July 18, 1994. The bombing, which killed 85 people, was the most significant in Latin America in the pre-2001 period. Beginning with a crime, the murder and disappearance of a model who is pregnant with the child of a powerful politician, the film leads us through ill-fated love affairs, extortions, and old lovers reuniting. In this journey that takes place somewhere between tragedy and irony, a few lives will get caught in the tangled web behind the imminent terrorist attack.
Plot Summary The year is 1994, the month of July to be exact. In the United States, the O.J. Simpson case was in full bloom. In Argentina, the government of Carlos Menem is
enjoying enormous popular support: it is taken for granted that he will be reelected to the presidency (at that very moment a Constitutional Convention is taking place in the province of Santa Fe which will allow him to run again) and the nation has its mind on other things. For example, soccer star Diego Maradona!s doping which eliminated him from the World Cup competition. The news programs tend to be a mix of politics, entertainment news and economics, usually about the same issues.
about a fashionable dance club implies naming the cabinet members of the President who frequent the place together with sports stars and models. The world of fashion, in fact, is enjoying an unusual boom: practically every girl in Argentina dreams of being a model, spending the summer on the beaches of Punta del Este, and marrying a businessman (involved in mysterious deals), or a politician or plastic surgeon. Meanwhile, the practice of medicine is beginning to lose it reputation of being a noble profession and bit by bit is becoming just one more business, in which social health plans are losing ground to pre-paid private plans.
In this context, the â€œhappyâ€? nineties, a young couple in their early thirties, Andrea Silberman and Claudio Quinteros, seem to be enjoying some success. Andrea is a fashion photographer, possibly the fashion photographer of the moment.
father is a wealthy and highly-respected surgeon, an important member of the Jewish community of Buenos Aires. He is also a teacher at the medical school where Claudio studied. Claudio, a young doctor who is just about to finish his residency in surgery, comes from a very different background. Born to a very poor family in the province of
Buenos Aires, Claudio does whatever he can to adapt to the universe of his girlfriend!s family (he even accepted a conversion to Judaism), but he never seems to feel completely at ease, even though his relationship with Andrea appears very good on the surface. But separating from Andrea (and therefore from her father / his protector, of whom he was the favorite student) would mean giving up an extraordinary professional future. Still, there are things that he is not comfortable with, including having to do certain favors, jobs that are â€œstrangeâ€? at the very least, for truly unsavory characters who have shady ties with Dr. Silberman. For example, Jose Fontenla, owner of an exclusive and very popular dance club, a homosexual who is very intelligent and very enigmatic. Fontenla provides young models and drugs to businessmen and powerful politicians.
One night, very late, the young couple is awoken by an extremely persistent phone caller.
It is, of course, Fontenla who needs Claudio!s services for a young
model who is on the verge of collapse from an overdose. Reluctantly, Claudio takes charge of the situation and, once at the hospital, takes care of the girl by himself. She is extremely beautiful and, upon regaining consciousness, she tells Claudio her story. Like him, she is from the province of Buenos Aires, and she was discovered during a model scouting outside of the city of Buenos Aires. And now Jose gets her jobs, and nobody must know that she is pregnant. Claudio seems particularly touched by her story and gives her his phone number.
Claudio!s days follow his usual routine: working at the hospital, dinners with his girlfriend!s parents (who are pressuring the young couple to get married and have children), and soccer games with his friends from the province.
We never hear
anything of Claudio!s family, but we do learn that he has been getting together with the model and that they secretly meet at hotels on the outskirts of the city. It is there that
she finally confesses to him who the father of the child is: a member of the Presidential Cabinet.
The unexpected news not only disturbs but also deeply upsets Claudio who, despite the relationship being completely irrational and against his interests, is possibly falling in love with the girl. But he soon finds himself at another crossroads with the appearance of another pregnancy, that of Andrea. In a reversal of roles, she practically humiliates herself by not just suggesting they get married, but virtually proposing to him as she tells him she is pregnant.
On the surface, her desperation is not easily
explainable â€“ she is beautiful, successful, and rich â€“ but she is clearly completely in love with him. But something seems to make Claudio reluctant to say yes; perhaps it is something from his past, an unresolved conflict that is somehow related to this young model and Claudio!s humble origins.
In any event, Claudio will not have much time for doubts. Another untimely appearance by Fontenla puts things back in order in the most brutal way: Jessica, the model, has been murdered. There is no asking how, Claudio must decide whether her body should be disappeared or should be made up in some way to hide the violence done to it, falsify the cause of death. Claudio suspects the network of powerful people that are behind the murder, a network that may even include his father-in-law. He swallows his pain and takes care of erasing any evidence of the body from the face of the earth.
A few days go by and the press begins to write about Jessica!s disappearance. The absence of her body has managed to affect various people.
understand why, but Claudio has become distant and doesn!t even sleep in the luxurious apartment they share in the old money neighborhood of Recoleta.
Leonora, a well known ex- model, about 30 years old, who now does PR work for Fontenla!s club and shared an apartment with Jessica, is, of course, visited by the police. But one day, when she comes home, she finds Fontenla in the apartment – not a strange occurrence in and of itself as he has the keys to the apartments of all the girls he manages, and such intrusions have to be accepted, but something different catches her attention this time. Fontenla doesn!t like having been surprised and it is obvious that he has been turning everything upside down in the apartment searching for something.
They talk about Jessica, but neither mentions the possibility of her
being dead. Leonora says she thinks Jessica will “return” and Fontenla says he is “worried.”
Meanwhile, Andrea decides to take the bull by the horns and go to the cafépizzeria where Claudio usually hangs out after playing soccer with his friends. She finds him there but is surprised to see him playing an old piano and singing. He is very good, and Andrea realizes that this is one of a number of things from his past that Claudio left behind.
She lets him finish and calls to him.
They argue violently,
ridiculously, and then they make up.
Soon after, at a party at Dr. Silberman!s house, they announce their engagement and pregnancy.
At one point in the party,
Silberman, Fontenla and Claudio gather together away from the others. It is evident that the three of them know about Jessica, and in an indirect but unmistakable way, Claudio receives his father-in-law!s thanks for his loyalty. “It was necessary for the girl to be disappeared. She knew too many things.” “What things?” “Don!t worry about it. One day I!ll be able to tell you.” In any case, as a reward, and to assure the future of his daughter and grandchild, Silberman has gotten an executive level position for
Claudio at AMIA, the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association.
Claudio is surprised
because he isn!t from a Jewish family. Silberman says that those things don!t matter, that true relationships are different, the people that are really close to you. The big, collective identities don!t mean a thing. Only the people around you count. He tells Claudio to report the following Monday, July 18. Andrea interrupts the conversation. She is radiant, and says she feels sorry about the trip she must take shortly. She has to cover the winter fashions in Mendoza and Patagonia but this is the last job she is taking, and then she will dedicate herself to being a mother.
Leonora leaves a classroom at the school of Philosophy. She doesn!t seem to be chatting with anyone, although her beauty and her carefully maintained informal style make her stand out from the crowd with its predominantly pseudo-hippie style. One of her classmates, ten years younger than her, follows her until her gets up the courage to ask her is she is Leonora Balcarce, the ex-model. She admits she is, trying to keep on her way, but he sticks to her and continues chatting with her, using the class as an excuse. She ends up offering him a ride in her car, and then they up at her apartment in the exclusive neighborhood of Puerto Madero. Then her classmate finds out that not only is this Leonora!s apartment, but that Jessica lived there too. Leonora avoids the subject of her missing roommate and, over a couple of beers, she tells him about herself. Like Jessica, she is from the province, and also came to the city of Buenos Aires to be a model, but she thinks that it was a big mistake and she lost a lot of important things in her life that she is now trying to get back. And returning to school is the beginning of that process for her. The kid is fascinated and tries to kiss her, but she refuses, acting exaggeratedly embarrassed.
The next day Fontenla!s yacht is going down the La Plata River. There are a number of girls and a mix of people; among them a couple of men with a foreign air,
clearly not from Europe, but hard to say precisely. Leonora warmly makes sure that everyone is taken care. The other girls clearly think highly of and admire her. But Leonora can!t help but notice two things: a certain tension between Jose Fontenla and the foreigners, who seem to be demanding something from him that is getting him upset, but also, that one of the foreigners is looking at her with unconcealed desire.
That evening the party continues with the same people (plus a few more) in the VIP room of Fontenla!s club.
There the foreigner walks over to Leonora.
conversation begins trivially, but then becomes almost intimate, and ends up rather crudely with the foreigner proposing they have sex in no uncertain terms. She turns him down at first, but he offers her a lot of money. She ends up accepting and goes with him to a bedroom. When they wake up the next day, Leonora asks to speak with one of them, the one who comes towards her first, perhaps because she senses a certain fragility in him. They are alone and she tells him that she has what they are looking for, and for the right price she will give it to them. The foreigner acts like he doesn!t understand and tells her to get Fontenla. With both of them there Leonora explains, cynically. She knows everything: Jessica was pregnant with the child of a member of the Presidential Cabinet, he asked her to have an abortion, and she said no. And she had a way to extort him: he had made the mistake of mentioning an imminent terrorist attack on the AMIA. Jessica left the letter (that Leonora has hidden) in case something happened to her, and she left a copy with a notary with instruction to give it to the press on July 30 is she didn!t say otherwise. Leonora says they can!t touch her or torture her and will have to negotiate: if there is money she will give them everything they need, and they can bribe the notary and in doing so eliminate every trace of Jessica. Just then, Leonora gets a call on her cell phone. She receives some news that makes her very sad. Fontenla and the foreigners find themselves amazed, euphoric and worried all at the same time.
It is a rainy and unpleasant dusk in a small town in the province of Buenos Aires: an old funeral home. Claudio!s friends accompany him at the vigil for his father. Along with them are a pair of old women and an apathetic employee of the home who serves coffee. Suddenly, a number of people turn their heads as if seeing someone completely unexpected entering. It is Leonora. She stops face to face in front of Claudio. She looks at the coffin and completely bursts into tears. It is the first time we see her crack. She and Claudio hug like what they once were: a couple deeply in love that separated without ever understanding why.
The following morning, under a sheet of grey rain, the body is lowered into the earth. Claudio and Leonora go everywhere together. They walk around the poor, dirty and empty house of Claudio!s father. There is a bottle of cheap whiskey, and they begin to drink and talk about things they remember. They look out the window at the dismantled hen house, the unkempt grass and the thick raindrops that bounce against the mud. There is a piano with some old sheet music. “I don!t play anymore,” he says. Still, he plays a bit and they sing together. Now drunk, they walk in the rain and stop in front of Leonora!s family!s house. They don!t have the courage to walk right in, but Claudio rings the bell and Leonora!s mother opens the door and looks at them incredulously. She closes the door in their faces but then opens it again and hugs and kisses them. They drink coffee and look at old photographs of a simple but maybe happy adolescence that they went through together until their ambitions separated them. They tell each other what has happened, lying al the time: she doesn!t mention Jessica, and he doesn!t mention that Andrea is expecting. “You know, we had to split up to make money.” They say goodbye in the twilight, with an infinite embrace. “We!ll get together soon.”
It is Monday. Leonora arrives with the briefcase. The foreigners and Fontenla are waiting for her. They are pleased with what she brought, but they have already arranged things with the notary and don!t need her anymore. Someone takes out a revolved with a silencer.
At the same time, Claudio enters the AMIA building on Pasteur Street for his first day. It is 9:30 in the morning. Andrea is at the offices of a magazine, nearby, reviewing the photos of the winter fashions when she hears the explosion. She looks out of a window: an ominous cloud of smoke, people running.
Directorâ€™s Statement Los Mareados is a romantic thriller that begins with a mystery that cuts across public and private worlds:
the murder of a young model, pregnant by a powerful
politician, and the disappearance of her body. The occurrence, disturbing in and of itself, is actually the first step down a path that will lead the audience deeper and deeper into both dimensions. In the public sphere, we will bit by bit understand that each characters is implicated (whether indirectly and unknowingly, through a dangerous risk the character is taking, or moved by forces beyond the control of even the most powerful) in a terrible incident: the terrorist attack on the AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) building.
And in the private sphere, we discover that
behind all of these intrigues is a humble and ill-fated love story. But by then it will all be too late. The die will have been cast.
Everything will take place in spaces and situations that were new at that time for Argentine society and that now epitomize the frivolity of the nineties: shopping malls, dance clubs (boliches), catwalks, yachts, and Puerto Madero (an exclusive waterfront development).
In order to transmit the atmosphere of those times, heady and
desperate, without making a film that is archeological or historical in the journalistic sense, one must follow Fellini!s advice to the letter: treat the past as if the film were science fiction. I think that part of the intensity that this film must gamble on is found in this wise advice: to look towards the past imagining a future, giving each character the possibility of living her or his contradictions and confronting destiny without any prescribed notions, without historical or sociological hypotheses.
And all of this must occur while not forgetting that the story touches a central historical point for understanding some of the contradictions of Argentina, a nation that has been capable of both serving as a home for a numerous and deeply-rooted Jewish community, and as a hiding place and shelter for high level Nazis. Many of these contradictions may have become greater during the nineties, when a Muslim president embraced the Catholic religion while also promoting the building of a ridiculously ostentatious mosque, and when a terrible terrorist bombing of the Israeli Embassy in 1992 it was followed up not by a thorough and successful police investigation but rather by a second and worse bombing, the AMIA building. Paradoxically, considering the
importance of these events, Argentine cinema up to now has not decided to take on this story.
But with this material, Los Mareados tries to follow the example of the best genre films: put concrete characters in a concrete situation and allow them to live even, perhaps, to face their own deaths. Not to make an historical thesis.
None of the film!s characters are guided by grand ideas, nor for collective political or religious passions. They care about their interpersonal relationships, the things and people that are close to them: their love and hatred of individuals, their friendships and family, their egoism and, in particular, their ambitions. And almost nobody achieves what they had hoped to. In this tragic film about an event that was not only key in the recent history of Argentina but also important in the current state of the world, many characters involuntarily act in ways that will result in the death of those they love most.
Claudio will get his future wife pregnant, moving them closer to
marriage, but at the same time fate will drag him closer and closer to a past that he wants to deny, a past in which there was a great love that he has never been able to forget, and of which the murdered model was a kind of echo or mirror. Silberman, the prestigious doctor, distracted or controlled by a network of influences that he is part of (and that is devouring him), will end up ruining his daughter!s life and betraying, without really knowing it, his own people. And Leonora, who has too much information in her hands, much more than she can handle, through a mix of egoism and ingenuity will become another victim, though in a much more sordid way.
Trying to be other people, the characters have lost themselves, and in doing so lose everything. It is a film, we could say, about the devaluation of something truly precious: human life.
Production Notes Cast Claudio •
Rodrigo de la Serna (tbc)
Celeste Cid (tbc)
Esmeralda Mitre (tbc)
Arturo Goetz (tbc)
1.000.000 US$ (estimated)
The Director Santiago Palavecino Santiago Palavecino was born in 1974 in Chacabuco, Argentina.
Along with film, he studied musical composition and interpretation and graduated with honors in the field of Arts from the University of Buenos Aires.
His work as a script writer has won awards from Argentine institutions like INCAA (the national film institute) and the Antorchas Foundation.
Also, he has worked as a
researcher and professor, and translated Jean-Luc Godard!s Histoire(s) du cinéma.
His articles on film and literature have been published in Punto de Vista and other prestigious publications in Argentina and abroad.
In 2006, he was one of a select number of filmmakers throughout the world that was nominated for the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Initiative for the Arts.
His first feature film as a director, Otra vuelta (2004), was selected by many festivals (San Sebastian, Toulouse, Buenos Aires, Montreal) before is premiered theatrically in Buenos Aires where it was excellently received.
In 2005, Palavecino was selected for the residency at Cannes where he developed the script for his second feature film, Tarde.
Immediately after the residency, Tarde
became one of eighteen projects selected worldwide for the Cannes 2006 Atelier.
Currently he is in pre-production for Tarde while he continues in development for his third film, Los mareados.
About the producers Costantini Films Costantini Films is a Buenos Aires based company created with the purpose of developing, producing, and financing Latin American feature films. Our goal is to work on projects that can cross international borders, as well as to support innovative directors, who are permanently exploring new cinematic languages and aesthetics.
Our commitment to promote Latin American Cinema has lead us to form a strategic partnership with The Weinstein Company, founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who holds a very successful track record for supporting foreign language films in the US and around the world.
The Latin American Film Fund, created as a result of this partnership, will finance the development, production, and distribution of a slate of quality films with a commercial bent for international markets. The first film to be produced under this association is TROPA DE ELITE (Elite Squad), by director Jose Padhila, which tells the story of a special operations battalion that operates within the Rio de Janeiro police department.
Over the past five years, Eduardo Costantini Jr. â€“founder of Costantini Films- was the executive director of MALBA museum in Buenos Aires, which hosts one of the most important twentieth century Latin American art collections in the world, together with a remarkabe film and literature program.
Eduardo produced a series of documentary films on artist, which include: GUILLERMO KUITCA: OBRAS 1982-2002, and PAUL AUSTER at MALBA.
Budget for development COSTANTINI FILMS Project: Los Mareados A film by Santiago Palavecino Written by Santiago Palavecino Development Cash Flow in Euros (1 Euro = 1.35us$)
Executive Production Screenplay & Treatment Novel / Short story's rights Script Translation Presentation & Marketing Other expenses Total
Executive Production Screenplay & Treatment Novel / Short story's rights Script Translation Presentation & Marketing Other expenses Total
Jan-08 1,000 1,500
2008 Feb-08 Mar-08
2000 1000 250 5,750
Costantini Films Av. Figueroa Alcorta 3351- Oficina # 228 Capital Federal (C1425CKM) Buenos Aires, Argentina firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (54 11) 4809 0320 Fax: (54 11) 4809 0321