Arts & Entertainment

New film imagines Argentine victory in a World Cup erased from history

By Rodrigo Garcia

Buenos Aires, May 8 (EFE).- What if soccer’s inaugural World Cup was not won by Uruguay nor held in that country in 1930? What if it instead was hosted by Argentina four years earlier and ended with the Albiceleste as champions?

That is the amusing premise of “Ultimo recurso” (Last Resort), director Matias Szulanski’s latest picture and a film that premieres in theaters on May 11 after having opened the latest edition of the Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema.

“What would’ve happened if Argentina had won a World Cup prior to the first one we know about?” the Argentine filmmaker asked rhetorically in an interview with Efe alongside the comedy’s two co-stars: Maria Villar and Tamara Leschner, who play the roles of a journalist (Laura) and intern (Julia) at a declining sports magazine.

The story begins with the arrival of an anonymous package at the offices of that publication.

It turns out to be the first of several deliveries providing evidence that the first World Cup took place in Argentina in 1926 and not in Uruguay in 1930.

They also offer proof that the hero of that tournament was an Argentine Jew whose goal-scoring prowess humiliated a German side featuring a young Josef Mengele, the future Nazi war criminal who would become known as the “Angel of Death.”

Intrigued by the mysterious packages, Laura and Julia embark on a quest to determine whether Nazi officials in the 1940s managed to erase that first World Cup from the history books.

“The story is a script that Maximiliano Rodriguez, the screenwriter, gave me in 2018. He’s a big soccer fan and really likes the magazine El Grafico, and he was also really interested in how journalism had gradually changed. Before it was more adventurous perhaps,” the 31-year-old filmmaker said.

“And now, I don’t want to generalize, but it’s more in the office than on the street, right?”

Villar, for her part, described Laura as a “40-year-old, somewhat resentful, news-obsessed woman,” adding that it was challenging to portray a character who is very distinct from those she normally plays.

“It was different for me. I was scared in a good way. And then came the filming, and the truth is I said, ‘I’m especially enjoying this.’ And that’s how the four weeks went,” she said of the shooting that took place between June and July 2022, just months before Argentina won their third World Cup title.

Leschner said “Ultimo resorte” will always hold a special place for her because it marks her cinematic debut.

“I remember that when Matias sent me the script I was working at a factory and I started reading it right there. I thought the role would be a minor one, and when he told me which role I would play I couldn’t believe it.”

“When I started filming the movie, I was about ready to (graduate). I’m really a food engineer and was working in that, but I always knew that after finishing my studies I wanted to take up acting again. But I didn’t think it would come so suddenly,” said the 27-year-old, who had studied acting and music (she even plays the flute in the film) before focusing on her university studies.

Szulanski, who is of Jewish origin, is looking to make a big splash with “Ultimo recurso” after a series of low-key films and says he hopes it reaches the largest audience possible.

“You need money to do certain things, but you can also make a film without money. It cost me 2,000 pesos (around $110 in 2016) to make my first film. Obviously it has lots and lots of limitations, but it’s a movie. I’m always of the idea that it’s better to make a film like that, super small, than to have the best script or project but not make it,” he said. EFE


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