It’s rare to hear about a film from Paraguay but this unconventional crime thriller has thrust the small country into the spotlight. Opening on February 7 in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, it takes the typical Hollywood shoot-‘em-up action drama and adds a gritty, indie flavor to the genre. It received huge buzz when it screened at the big international film festivals and broke box office records when it played in Paraguayan theaters. Co-directed by Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori, 7 Cajas (7 Boxes) has been compared to the film Slumdog Millionaire with it’s dizzying, quick edits and ominous electronic score.
Teenaged Victor (Celso Franco) works as a delivery boy at an outdoor market in Asunción, Paraguay’s capital. It is a labyrinth of endless stalls and vendors selling everything you could ever imagine: produce, meat, cell phones, TVs, pirated DVDs, clothes — seriously, everything. Victor spends his days dreaming of owning a fancy cell phone and fantasizing about being a movie star. He is offered $100 to deliver seven boxes, no one is really sure what they contain. Suddenly, he is dodging police, thieves, and rival gangs. It’s exciting and at times heart-pounding, you never know what will happen next. The film takes twists and turns, constantly surprising you. It also has sweet, tender moments punctuated with humor and dark violence. Besides the fact that it’s one of Remezcla’s favorites and listed on our Top 10 Latino Films of 2012 That You Probably Didn’t See But Should here are seven more reasons to go see 7 Cajas.
1. It’s from Paraguay.
When was the last time you saw a movie from Paraguay? I’m going to guess the answer is never. The small South American country has virtually no film industry. If you exclude co-productions with other countries there have only been 25 films made in Paraguay in its entire history. In comparison, Hollywood makes hundreds of films per year. It’s also the first time a Paraguayan film will have a commercial theatrical release in the United States. Beyond helping out this scrappy, little movie and its resourceful filmmakers you’ll be part of cinematic history if you go see it.
2. It’s in Spanish, Guaraní and Jopará.
Most of the film is in Spanish but a lot of the characters speak in the indigenous language Guaraní or Jopará, a locally used mixture of Guaraní and Spanish. In case you didn’t already know, Guaraní is one of Paraguay’s official languages and is spoken by the majority of the population. It’s also one of the most-widely spoken indigenous languages in the Americas. Here’s your chance to hear what it sounds like.
3. It broke box office records in Paraguay.
When it opened in Paraguayan theaters it shattered box office records. After spending a staggering eight months in movie theaters it became the most watched film ever in the history of Paraguay. The previous record was held by Titanic and this little indie hit sold double the amount of tickets the Hollywood behemoth had.
4. A Hollywood remake is in the works.
The filmmakers were approached by a production company based in the States to acquire rights to the film. Directors Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori agreed and licensed the story for an American adaptation. When the gringo version comes out starring some generic mainstream celebrity you can impress your friends by pointing out that it’s a remake and you already saw the original Paraguayan version.
5. It’s won a ton of awards.
It played close to 90 film festivals around the world and won 28 different prizes including audience, directing, screenwriting and jury prizes at a bunch of festivals. It was even nominated for a Goya award (Spain’s version of the Oscars) for Best Spanish Language Foreign Film.
6. Film critics are going crazy over this film.
“The Fast and the Furious with wheelbarrows, Paraguayan action-thriller-romance hybrid 7 Boxes is a rollicking good time at the movies that offers breathtaking action and suspense, humor and appealing characters all in one visually flashy package.” — Indiewire
“Paraguayan thriller 7 Boxes surges with high spirits and surprises.” — Village Voice
“A swift and clever thriller from Paraguay.” — Chicago Tribune
“7 Boxes, a low-budget Paraguayan crime caper goosed by low-rung dreams, crackles with the desperate energy of forced innovation. When there’s no room on the spreadsheet for fancy special effects, making do can yield its own rewards.” — New York Times
7. It’s on iTunes.
In case you don’t live in New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago you still have a chance to watch this exciting, thrilling movie. In the next few weeks it will be opening in more cities across the country. If you live in the middle-of-nowhere and don’t have a theater close by or you’re just lazy it’s available on iTunes starting today.
Opening February 7:
New York, NY: Cinema Village
Los Angeles, CA: Downtown Independent
Pasadena, CA: Laemmle Playhouse
Chicago, IL: Siskel Film Center
Santa Fe, NM: Jean Cocteau Cinema
Scottsdale, AZ: Harkins Shea
Opening February 14:
Toronto, ON: Carlton Cinema
Miami, FL: Coral Gables Art Cinema
Saskatoon, SK: Roxy Theater
Columbus, OH: Gateway Film Center
Opening February 21:
Seattle, WA: SIFF Film Center
Santa Fe, NM: The Screen
Philadelphia, PA: The Roxy Theater
Opening February 28:
San Francisco, CA: The Roxie