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Video Interview: Lisandro Alonso & Viggo Mortensen (Jauja)

Lisandro Alonso and Viggo Mortensen are oddly like magnets – figures that on one side might resist one another, yet on the opposite sides naturally embrace one another, working perfectly in tandem toward one common goal in which creation and collaboration naturally flourish. Alonso, being an Argentinian director whose oeuvre almost almost solely constructed of mysterious works (even to the director himself), such as Los Muertos or Liverpool, that follow solitary men along near silent journeys into the harsh wilderness, and Mortensen, a multilingual Danish-American movie star whose reserved every-man persona has been marched on screen from Mordor to Millbrook to great acclaim, yet they share both a deep respect for transcendental cinema and a strikingly admirable lack of pretensions when it comes to their own investment in the medium. Their first collaboration, and Alonso’s first project working with not only a professional actor, but with an actual script (written by Argentinian poet Fabián Casas), Jauja continues the filmmaker’s exploration of solitary brio while vastly expanding his cinematic wheelhouse, delving into territory Mortensen himself has compared to the work of Tarvoksky and Sokurov.

After seeing its premiere at Cannes earlier this year as part of the fairly overlooked Un Certain Regard section, the film was invited by Wavelength programmer Andréa Picard to play at the Toronto International Film Festival. With great pleasure, I caught the enigmatic period piece, in which Mortensen play a Danish general looking for his runaway daughter in the ominously shifting landscape of Patagonia during the Spaniards’ 1882 campaign to slaughter the indigenous peoples, on the big screen and subsequently sat down with the filmmaker and his star/producer to discuss how the project came together, their unpretentious appreciation for high-brow cinema, how they settled on the film’s gorgeously antiqued look and much more. Our conversation can be found below:

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