Films & Schedules

  • Lion's Den

  • Pablo Trapero

Argentina/South Korea/Brazil
113 minutes

Production Company:
Matanza Cine/Cineclick Asia (Fantom)/Patagonik/Videofilmes
Executive Producer:
Martina Gusman
Pablo Trapero, Youngjoo Suh
Alejandro Fadel, Martín Mauregui, Santiago Mitre, Pablo Trapero
Production Designer:
Coca Oderigo
Guillermo Nieto
Ezequiel Borovinsky, Pablo Trapero
Federico Esquerro
Principal Cast: Martina Gusman, Elli Medeiros, Rodrigo Santoro

International Sales Agent:

TIFF Tags: Women  Human Rights  Violence 

Monday September 0808:45PM AMC 7 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Wednesday September 1006:00PM AMC 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 1309:30AM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 3 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

The opening of this superb new film by Pablo Trapero (Crane World, Rolling Family) immediately sets the tone for what is to come. Julia (Martina Gusman) is asleep, her face captured in extreme close-up. As she wakes, her tousled hair, chipped nail polish and heavy eye makeup signal the extremities of the night before. As the camera pulls away, we – but not Julia – immediately see the blood on her pillow.

Julia may or may not have harmed the two men lying in pools of blood in her apartment. One of them, Ramiro (Rodrigo Santoro), is still alive, and it is his testimony that sends Julia to jail. But concerns about a murder sentence actually take a back seat when Julia discovers that she is pregnant. A story that began as a thriller now takes a complete turn, becoming an in-depth exploration of an incarcerated woman's struggle to raise a child within the prison system.

Resigning herself to both the jail and her pregnancy, Julia is slow to warm to the other inmates. She eventually falls into a community of friendship, a circle of women that embody a prison's version of the adage “it takes a village.” When her son is born, Julia discovers a well of maternal love and the inklings of hope. For years, she fights for a new trial in the hopes of providing a future for her son. When that dream is quashed, she makes a decision that risks everything.

With his precise compositional eye, Trapero shows us the world of the prison through a series of images that both engage and surprise. Shots of rain outside a window or long hallways of peeling paint are interspersed with those of toddlers darting past cell doors. Piles of new diapers lean against a prison cot and children's mobiles are strung around a single light bulb in a cell.

The discovery here is Gusman, whose remarkable performance – her first in a leading role onscreen – only enhances the fine script and Guillermo Nieto's skilled camera work. The camera loves her, and with good reason – her large eyes and emotive face show us every strain, cry and pleasure experienced by a woman who must change from a truculent child into a mature adult so that she may raise a baby herself.

Jane Schoettle

Pablo Trapero was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and studied filmmaking at the Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires. His feature films are Crane World (99), El Bonaerense (02), Rolling Family (04), Born and Bred (06) and Lion's Den (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award