Ahead of its world premiere at this year’s San Sebastian Horizontes Latinos strand, Buenos Aires-based production house Historias Cinematográficas has shared an exclusive first look at the trailer for Lucía Puenza’s energetic new film “Los Impactados,” with Variety.
The film is produced by Pepe Puenzo at Historias Cinematográficas, the Puenzo family production house led by Academy Award winner Luis Puenzo (“The Official Story,” “Old Gringo”), Academy and Emmy award-winning producer Mark Johnson (“Breaking Bad,”“The Holdovers”) and Paula Manzanedo (“Memory,” “La Caida”) in association with Exile Content Studio and Non Stop Studios. Co-produced by Juan de Dios and Pablo Larraín’s indie outfit Fábula, the narrative turns on a study of rebirth after severe trauma.
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Written by Puenzo and Lorena Ventimiglia, the singular narrative follows Ada, played by Mariana Di Girolamo who starred opposite Gael Garcia Bernal in Pablo Larraín’s “Ema,” after she’s struck by lightning and on through to her intriguing metamorphosis alongside an enigmatic and experimental doctor, played by “El Último Hereje” lead Germán Palacios, and a group of fellow survivors who find themselves increasingly drawn to electric current.
The mysterious natural phenomenon provides highly-charged commentary on self-acceptance, abandonment and society’s obsession with chemically-induced homogeneity as Ada questions the life she’s led and makes drastic strides to upend it.
“Among the small group of physicians and scientists dedicated to understanding the physical and psychological consequences of a lightning strike, several argue that the strike can reconfigure an individual’s synaptic system. It messes up internal circuits, altering the behavior of cells. If we understand a lightning strike as a detonation that pulverizes a person’s body and psyche, erasing all known synaptic pathways, we can also reverse the burden of misfortune: many search their entire lives for the opportunity for something to reconfigure them,” Puenzo mused to Variety.
“That idea, from the beginning, was disturbing and poetic to me. The possibility that something as random as lightning could strike us with the force of a nuclear reactor, marking our body with that rhizomatic scar called the Lichtenberg Mark and it’s the electrical path that electricity makes when passing through a body. We discover that ‘Los Impactados’ isn’t a movie about being struck by lightning, what its protagonist discovers on this journey is something else,” she added
Continuing to nourish the idea that pharmaceutical intervention, modern day medicine, aren’t certain cure-alls for what ails us, Puenzo sets the tone for a healthy critique of a system that dictates what a normal body, mind and life ought to look like.
Not unlike her films “XXY,” or “La Caída,” she’s drawn to discussing, “the ethical limits of medicine and science, normality (or rather, abnormality and amorality) together with the singularity of the bodies, sexuality, the crossing of genders, the construction of worlds that move away from realism.”
“One of the neurologists who accompanied us while we were writing the script told us there are people who don’t respond to chemicals, but respond to electricity. She helped us understand to what extent we’re electrical beings: the brain, lungs, cellular system, work by electrical impulses. The protagonist’s journey towards addiction to electricity was similar to the plunge we made into this universe, unprejudiced,” she added.
In the trailer, Ana awakes from a coma, as she gains consciousness she notices the red markings that trace her veins, coinciding with the electricity the jolt dealt, they appear to span her body. A flashback shows the moment of impact and the aftermath, as she drifts in and out of dream.
The teaser continues as her side effects mount and she meets the doctor who offers to enroll her in his trials alongside others suffering the same fate. She becomes wholly enthralled with her newfound opportunity and scenes go on to oscillate between her budding knowledge of the phenomenon and profound electric shock therapy sessions that lend a primal, nuanced look at the world around her.
An intimate glimpse wraps into the credits as she sees the energy coursing through her veins, her face curious and slightly trepidatious, yet with a sense she’s wholly enamored with the idea of a fresh start.
The notably confidential way the scenes are imagined leads the viewer to feel as though they’re in a space they shouldn’t necessarily inhabit, as if they’re in on something top-secret. Intimacy is captured succinctly from script to screen.
“I don’t like stories with a distant and cold construction of their protagonist’s journey. A film is more than a story and a theme. I never finish finding my films in the writing or the shooting, but the editing island. I believe that’s due to the fact that rhythm is the most central to cinema,” relayed Puenzo.
“In ‘Los Impactados,’ there were weeks it seemed impossible to edit, until we understood that the story was the intimate journey of its protagonist. The emotional score of a trauma, a wound, that rearranges itself in Ada’s head and body in mysterious ways,” she continued.
After screening at San Sebastian the film plans a continuing run at the Biarritz, Trieste, Morelia and Rio de Janeiro festivals with Puenzo stating that, “All of us directors are trying to understand what lives we want for our films, so that they can have a life in the cinema before being seen on platforms. In the case of ‘Los Impactados,’ I wanted to return to a model of not having the platform on board until the film’s released and has its run in festivals and cinemas.”
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