OSCAR-NOMINATED FILM OPENS IN U.S. FEBRUARY 20
Damián Szifrón's Wild Tales is one of the five movies Oscar-nominated this year for best foreign-language film. And according to the New York Times' Larry Rohter, "In Argentina, Wild Tales has become both the country’s all-time box office champion and a genuine social phenomenon that has made folk heroes of some characters." Rohter adds that the Spanish-language title of Szifrón's film is actually closer to "Savage Tales," and notes that "the opening credits unfurl against a backdrop of tigers, sharks, wolves and other predators in their habitats."
The film is made up of six episodes, each with a different cast and characters, in which someone goes into a vengeful rage. Building on the imagery of the opening credits, Szifrón explains to Rohter, "What differentiates us from animals is our capacity to restrain ourselves. An animal can’t, and is condemned to its instincts. In contrast, we have a fight or flee mechanism, but it comes with a very high cost. Most of us live with the frustration of having to repress oneself, but some people explode. This is a movie about those who explode, and we can all understand why they do. Any time I read about someone who has committed a supposedly irrational or barbarous act, that person doesn’t feel foreign to me." Szifrón later adds that while the six stories may be stylistically different from each other, "they are vital organs of the same body" and "to sustain itself, the movie needed all of them."
A CINEPHILE WHO SAW ALL THE CLASSICS AT A VERY EARLY AGE
In this excerpt from the end of Rohter's article, he discusses Szifrón's influences, which include Brian De Palma:
Born in the suburbs of Buenos Aires into a Jewish immigrant family with roots in Poland and Russia, Mr. Szifrón was a cinephile as a boy. His father dealt in electronic equipment, and his son early on acquired a VHS player and a digital camera. As a result, Mr. Szifrón said, “I saw all the classics at a very early age.” He began making his own shorts at the age of 9, and before Wild Tales, he had written and directed two movies and a pair of television series that were hits in Latin America.
Wild Tales contains echoes of some of his childhood favorites, among them Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg and Brian De Palma, as well as The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. But in the end, the movie is a very personal distillation of “themes that are in the collective unconscious,” Mr. Szifrón said.
“There are a lot of different things from daily life being processed and given free rein in Wild Tales, violence and vengeance among them,” he continued. “But at its core, what stands out is this pleasure of losing control and the desire for liberation. This is a movie about the desire for freedom, and how this lack of freedom, and the rage and anguish it produces, can cause us to run off the rails.”