The long-expected return of Lucrecia Martel to feature film, which occurred after a 9-year break, can be seen as a purification of her interests. It is also her first thematic move into historic subjects and Paraguayan colonial heritage. Don Diego da Zama is Governor’s administrative advisor in the service of the Spanish king, waiting for transfer. But the king’s letter is not arriving, while a bureaucrat’s intervention turns him into a prisoner of the space where he does not want to belong. The author of the literary source for Martel’s film, Antonio di Benedetto, was a great fan of Dostoevsky, although her piece owes a lot to Kafka and Beckett. Martel’s bodies look like imitations of didactic historic reconstructions from a traveling circus. Their experience is close to madness and nightmares. Tired from waiting, Zama starts a brutal hunting expedition aiming for the deadly Vicun Porto, reminiscent of Herzog on LSD, where Indios, their bodies painted red of blood and war, emerge from the swamp in moves reminiscent of the aesthetics of an animated experiment. That same world, which tries to destroy don Diego, becomes his salvation.
Lucrecia Martel was born in 1966 in Salta, Argentina. Due to lack of funds, she had to drop out of her film studies in Buenos Aires. This made her become a free spirit, and spend her days watching films, reading and writing books. Her debut film, La Cienaga, made her the key name of the New Cinema of Argentina. Retrospectives of her films (The Holy Girl, The Headless Woman) have been shown in numerous prestigious institutions, from Harvard and Berkley to the Tate Modern. Alongside Lisandro Alonso, she is considered one of the most special Argentine film figures.