Monday, September 22, 2008

2008 MVFF31 Latinbeat: Chile—Mirageman

Mine is the Latinbeat for this year's Mill Valley Film Festival. Ever since running into Kiltro director Ernesto Diaz and Chilean martial artist Marko Zaror at the 2006 November American Film Market (where he was given the opportunity to view early footage of the duo's latest vehicle Mirageman), Twitch teammate Todd Brown has been unabashedly enthused about the project. In his first dispatch, Todd wrote: "Zaror, impossibly, seems to have gotten even faster since shooting Kiltro in which he was already far too fast and agile for such a big man. There are zero wires in this, zero CGI, so the action is much more raw. According to Zaror they often didn't even pull their punches. It's a bit of an unusual beast style wise, fusing the typical South American verite style with a bit of a 70's low budget Hong Kong chopsocky feel and, yeah, the mask and premise are pretty goofy but in pretty much exactly the right way."

Offering up the first photos for the film, Twitch teammate Mack followed through with a smack more, and Todd added an impressive YouTube training reel of Zaror in action, the amped-up poster, the subtitled trailer and several demo reels. Todd then programmed Mirageman's world premiere at Canada's 2007 Fantasia Film Festival and, eschewing objectivity, gave it a rave (albeit qualified) review. Diaz's script, Todd writes, "does a remarkable job of balancing fantasy with reality, comedy with grit, raw action with sly social parody." His only minor complaint is that "Mirageman has no true fighting match on the villain's side."

Mirageman won Audience Award for Best Film at the 2007 Austin Fantastic Fest and Audience Award for Best Chilean Film at the 2007 Valdivia International Film Festival and—as further reported by Todd at Twitch—the film's March 2008 Chilean premiere was a resounding popular success, launching an anticipated shift to the small screen. Magnolia Pictures has picked up both Mirageman and its predecessor Kiltro for U.S. distribution.

The film's appeal lies not only in the brooding good looks of its lead star, and in its truly impressive action sequences, but in the fact that it capitalizes on the fantasy each and every one of us has to be strong and well-trained enough to kick urban delinquency in its face. Mirageman is not so much a superhero as he is a conscientious vigilante, with all the attendant pros and cons of such a stance. The film's narrative traction is more about how the protagonist adopts his avenging persona once he realizes it has a positive effect on his traumatized younger brother. This is an action film that revolves around considerable heart and entertaining dosages of goofy humor and a wry critique of television media.

Cross-published on


milenkos said...

yay, Chilean films! I almost worked as Art Dept. PA in "Kiltro," but choose to focus on my College application, which brought me here :)

Michael Guillen said...

...and everyone's happy for that!! Seems like Chile is having a little cinematic renaissance. Also caught Tony Manero in Toronto.