Colombia, Argentina, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Uruguay, USA, Switzerland, Denmark
Sofia Buenaventura, Moises Arias, Julianne Nicholson, Laura Castrillón, Deiby Rueda, Paul Cubides, Sneider Castro, Karen Quintero, Julian Giraldo
Santiago A. Zapata, Fernando Epstein, Alejandro Landes, Cristina Landes
Alejandro Landes, Alexis Dos Santos
'Monos' opens with a mysterious and disturbing shot of dirty, blindfolded youngsters drifting about under the skies on a mountain top. Madness and chaos rules in Alejandro Landes’ dark, trippy and simply marvellous movie.
A war rages in this strange country and the kids are deployed child soldiers and guerilla warriors following orders from a faraway agency simply referred to as The Organisation. There are no rules, only rituals. There are no leaders in this formless, nebulous army and no protagonists apart from an American hostage and a dairy cow that the soldiers are safeguarding. But the hostage escapes and the catastrophe, ever-looming in dark, anxious imagery, finally erupts like a volcano and ‘Monos’ lurches forward with uncontrollable, primordial force from the raw mountain landscapes to the deepest of jungles. The young rebels are led by their senses and animal urges, far removed from civilisation they exist in a primal state where the boundaries between self and others are blurred. When their only radio crashes, the contact with the outside world is lost and they face complete isolation.
Reality feels simultaneously close and far away in this film from a country that has been through the world’s longest civil war. But in ‘Monos’ war and conflict exist as a natural state, and the absurdity of this is highlighted by not being explained or placed in a historical context. The scenes are monumental, calling to mind everything from ‘Apocalypse Now’ and ‘Mad Max’ to 80’s action movies with all the physical brutality of black metal.
The artistic vision is hallucinogenic, and this film simply demands to be seen on the big screen.
Alejandro Landes was born in 1980 in Brazil. He is a writer, producer and director known for his documentary ‘Cocalero’ (2007) premiering at Sundance and his first feature ‘Porfirio’ (2011), which had its premiere at Cannes Film Festival, both of which toured festivals around the world. ‘Monos’, Landes second fiction feature, premiered at Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award and has since won numerous other awards around the world.
“There has been a seemingly endless civil war in Colombia, a war with many fronts: paramilitaries, guerrillas, Narcos, the government, foreign actors and everything seems to be coming to a head. The fragile possibility of peace is in the air, and it's been a long time coming. ‘Monos’ explores this moment through the prism of the war movie. Though this is my generation’s first chance, this is not Colombia’s first peace process and so it feels plagued by ghosts. These ghosts inspired me to shape the film like a fever dream.”