Films & Schedules

  • Che

  • Steven Soderbergh

Spanish, English
262 minutes

Production Company:
Guerrilla Films/Morena Films/Telecinco Cinema
Executive Producer:
Frederic W. Brost, Gregory Jacobs, Álvaro Augustín, Belén Atienza, Álvaro Longoria, Brahim Chioua, Vincent Maraval, Philip Elway
Laura Bickford, Benicio Del Toro
Production Designer:
Antxón Gómez
Peter Andrews
Pablo Zumárraga
Larry Blake, Gabriel Gutierrez
Alberto Iglesias
Principal Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Demián Bichir, Rodrigo Santoro, Franka Potente

International Sales Agent:
Wild Bunch

TIFF Tags: Biography  Politics 

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The name still resonates forty years after his death. Perhaps more than any other individual, Che Guevara personifies an era: the sixties, a time when revolution was in the air. His hold over the collective imagination is arguably as powerful as it was when he was alive. He is now a global brand, his image ubiquitous. Young, handsome and idealistic, he was a hero to the oppressed – and he remains an icon, a projection of the hopes, dreams and fantasies of many, both rich and poor.

Steven Soderbergh, screenwriter Peter Buchman, Benicio del Toro and consultant and Che biographer Jon Lee Anderson have set themselves the daunting task of telling his story. The result is fascinating, recreating Che's life not in epic terms, but as a long, hard slog, consisting of countless small victories and defeats. Whether struggling to overthrow a corrupt regime or attempting to export the revolution, the scale is always intimate. The final effect is complex, as we are shown a powerful and decisive figure who is also human, flawed and at times painfully frail.

The film is divided into two parts, mirroring two phases of Che's life: the first half covers the years from 1955 to 1962, the second from 1966 until Che's death in 1967. (A third part was also envisioned; if made, it will deal with the intervening years.) In so doing, Soderbergh uses a structure similar to that of David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. Power on the ascendant is followed by power descendant, neatly divided. The first half of this immense and fascinating film deals with the struggle against Batista, portraying in considerable detail the gruelling battle that Fidel and Che fought in the Cuban countryside before successfully entering Havana.

The second half is set entirely in Bolivia, leapfrogging his period of power in Cuba and his African adventure in the Congo. Che faces similar challenges, galvanizing poor peasants into a military force that can take on trained professionals. This is guerilla warfare, and Soderbergh does a superb job capturing its scale and gritty reality. Del Toro disappears into his role – the likeness is eerie, and his performance towering. Inevitably, Che will provoke endless discussion about this most fascinating and elusive of men.

Piers Handling

Steven Soderbergh was born in Atlanta, Georgia. His feature films include sex, lies and videotape (89), Gray's Anatomy (96), Schizopolis (96),Out of Sight (98), The Limey (99), Erin Brockovich (00), Traffic (00), which won four Academy Awards®, including one for best director, Ocean's Eleven (01), Full Frontal (02), Solaris (02), Ocean's Twelve (04), Bubble (05), The Good German (06), Ocean's Thirteen (07) and Che (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award