Bendita Film Sales Grows Slate with ‘The Life of Fish’ Director Matías Bize’s ‘The Punishment’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Tenerife-based Bendita Film Sales, headed by Luis Renart, has acquired Matías Bize’s “The Punishment,” (“El Castigo,”), ahead of its international premiere at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival this Saturday. 

Produced by Ceneca Producciones and Leyenda Films, it is the second film to see the light in 2022 for the multi-prized director of “In the Bed,” “The Life of Fish,” and “The Memory of Water,” having won at Malaga with lockdown inspired “Private Messages.” Bendita’s buy signifies confidence in this latest title, which heads to Ventana Sur for its market premiere on Dec 1.

In the film, a couple’s seven year old son is missing, having been left momentarily by the side of the road as punishment. Set in a forest and played out in real time, the boy’s parents search for him. Helmer Matias Bize dissects the subtle shifts in the couple’s reactions to this crisis as questions grow outward from the search for the boy, to broader notions of what good parenting is and its impacts on them as individuals. 

The film is penned by Goya nominated Coral Cruz, whose previous projects include Carlos Marques-Marcet’s ‘The Days To Come,” which won big at Malaga. 

As a chamber piece, it is heavily dependent on the two leads, Antonia Zegers (“Tony Manero,”, “No,”, Oscarwinner “A Fantastic Woman,”) as the mother, and Néstor Cantillana (“The Memory Of Water,” “Neruda,” “Prófugos” ) as the father. The claustrophobia of the forest, the Bosque de Qullin, Chile, is captured by DOP Gabriel Díaz, shooting primarily handheld utilising natural lighting to add to the realism.

“We were instantly fascinated by Matías Bize’s new work,” said Luis Renart, Bendita Film Sales CEO, praising Bize’s “confident and courageous mise-en-scène and that clockwork script by Coral Cruz that makes you cling to the edge of your seat, not to mention the rich and amazingly complex performances by Antonia Zegers and Nestor Castillana.”

There’s been a strew of Chilean titles getting attention recently with Nicholas Postiglione’s debut “Immersion” winning at last year’s Tallinn Black Nights and nominations for Pablo Larrain’s “Spencer” and animated short “Bestia” at the Oscars. The hope will be that “The Punishment” can become another success story for Chilean cinema.

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