Skip to content

Take the money and run

Published on:


“¿A dónde está la libertad?” howls Pappo of Argentinian rock band Pappo’s Blues as the credits roll on Los delincuentes, one of its two main protagonists Morán wandering on horseback into the sunlit Cordoba countryside: where can you find freedom? “Quizás la tengan en algún lugar”: maybe they have it in some place.

Those who watched the film at IFFR 2024, and everywhere else following its sensational Cannes premiere in 2023, might have found a slice of it. Its director Rodrigo Moreno and producer Ezequiel ‘Boro’ Borovinsky share their experience making the film together over more than eight years since it was first presented as a project at IFFR’s co-production market CineMart in 2015. 

“I was not sure about the ending of the film,” described Moreno as he starts talking about the free-form way in which the film was shot. “We went to shoot in the hills two times: one was cancelled by the lockdown and in the other we didn’t have time enough to shoot the ending, fortunately, because the ending was one of the elements that changed the most during the process.” The process involved shooting the film in two parts, constant reworking of the script, a series of delays and Covid-related hold-ups and an intensive, introspective edit. 

“I needed to somehow get lost in the second part.”

“The last shot of the film was the last shot we took after four years of shooting, which is nice.” The sprawling, rising-and-falling ten-minute blues-rock song that accompanies the shot with all the swagger of the ‘70s, says much about the film itself: a three-hour apparent heist film that tackles much more than meets the eye. Divided into two parts, the film follows a disgruntled bank employee stealing the value of his not-yet-earned salary from a future he doesn’t want to live out, drawing in a reluctant colleague Román. In the second, the film goes into the country to explore what kind of freedom this might enable, ruminating on work, love and the passage of time. 

“From the very beginning, I wanted to split the shooting into stages”, says Moreno of the process that brought the film about. “I needed to be in a different mood as a director to face each part. I needed to somehow get lost in the second part.” If what ended up a four year shoot might have been crucial to the film’s eventual poignancy, it posed a great challenge to its producer. 

“I think this is the film where I learned the most”, says Boro. “It was very difficult, moreso because of the pandemic than Rodrigo’s ideas. We had very hard financial problems during the shooting. The funds support films that shot in one time, so they usually give you the money in that way.” The funding was put together from Argentina, Brazilian and Chilean co-producers, the Luxembourg Film Fund and local regional funds in Cordoba. “We had to put everything together and understand how to split the shooting.” 

“I’m going to follow you, and I’m going to protect the story.”

Not only the pandemic distributed the schedule. After one and a half years of waiting to restart the shooting, the team had to cancel again as one of the main actors went to Spain to shoot another project. “We had to wait for him for nine months!” says Moreno. “At the end of the day, that period of time shooting, making the film, allowed me to discover the film during the process.”

A list of images

This was a project where the relationship between producer and director was more important than ever. “I understood at some point what was the best for the film in terms of Rodrigo’s ideas. I think I learned to accompany Rodrigo, to take care of him in terms of: ‘OK, this is your idea. I’m going to follow you, and I’m going to protect the story. I’m going to protect him as a director.’ But yeah, we did it, and I think we did an incredible job. Not even in our wildest dreams did we dream of this kind of success.”

Its success was marked by glowing reviews following its premiere in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, no less so than from Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian who labelled it a future cult classic. IFFR has been present throughout the career of Moreno with his first feature El custodio (2006) supported by the Hubert Bals Fund and presented at CineMart, as was his follow up Un mundo misterioso (2011). Reimon was HBF backed and had its world premiere at IFFR 2014, spurring Moreno to then present the genesis for Los delincuentes at CineMart in Rotterdam the following year. “That’s why for us, or for me at least, it’s important to present the film in Rotterdam also because IFFR again is involved in a film of mine.”

“What the camera captures is the present, always.”

Much changed about the film since its initial presentation, though. “I changed important things about storytelling during the process. I needed to have it more fresh because sometimes the script gets rapidly old, so the way of having a fresh script was to recreate it all the time, to rewrite it, to rethink it. What the camera captures is the present time, always. You have to be very aware of that.” 

Could Boro take any lessons on work and liberty from the story with his life as a film producer? “You mean if I’m planning to steal the money of the Argentinian Film Institute?”, a darkly and poignantly humorous quip given in the context of Argentina’s newly elected president Javier Milei’s attacks on the institute. “I think that my job is more related to the second part of the film. Actually, I don’t have any films to shoot during 2024. So I will have this year to think about how my future is going to be.”

“It’s impossible not to connect with the context of the Argentinian economy, a crisis economy, which is very hard at this moment”, says Moreno discussing the impact of the film in Argentina, where it met widespread success including nomination as the country’s submission to the Oscars. “In Argentina, I think the film worked more with freedom than with the prison of work. Everybody has a stable job in Europe and that’s a prison also. I think the connections the film made to European or American audiences had to do with that. But in ‘the developing world’, nobody has a stable job, or few people have a stable job. The reactions the film provokes are different. But in the end, it’s the same because it has to do with freedom.”

“Without fun, without joy, there’s no serious work.”

Freedom in subject but also in form, in this playfully structured wandering narrative that takes many moments to stop and breathe, like on the tiring hikes to the cliff where the money is stashed. “There’s something that Raul Ruiz, the Chilean director, says that I really like, that when you make a film, you always make two films. You always make one and another that you are smuggling somehow.” It’s this ungraspable film behind, that can’t quite always be pinpointed but that emerges in the free roaming vignettes of long-form poetry recitals, dips in the cool fresh lake water, and the reappearance of Moráns prized possession the Pappo’s Blues album, which separates a good film from an exceptional one – from a three hour heist film, to a stirring rumination on humanity under capitalism.

“To reach the film we finally made took us a lot of work – and hard work. And fun, of course, because without fun, without joy, there’s no serious work. That’s my point of view. Without fun and joy, it’s impossible to create a serious work.”

A list with films

  • Los delincuentes

    A bank heist makes possible a new life outside of the obligations of capitalism.

    • Limelight
  • Reimon

    Her days consist of commuting and cleaning all over Buenos Aires. While Reimon vacuums, her wealthy clients read to each other, fascinated, from Marx’

    • Spectrum

A list with articles