Venezuelan filmmaker Lorenzo Vigas’ third feature The Box debuted in competition at the 2021 Venice Film Festival and has been selected as Venezuela’s entry for the 2023 Oscars. The film follows Hatzin, a young teenager who travels to collect his father’s remains from a communal grave in northern Mexico. But after a casual encounter with a man who resembles his late father, he is sucked into the underbelly of Mexico’s manufacturing industry.
During Deadline’s Contenders Film: International panel, director Vigas said the film’s narrative inspiration came from a TV news report of a real-life family who traveled across Mexico to retrieve their dead relative.
“I had this idea of what if this boy goes to this town and suddenly sees a man that is exactly like his father. That was the starting point for the film,” he said.
The Box is the final film in a trilogy of films Vigas has made on fatherhood, following 2015’s From Afar and 2017’s El vendedor de orquídeas. However, the director said the subject matter was not shaped by the relationship he had with his father, Oswaldo Vigas, a prominent Venezuelan painter.
“You don’t choose your obsession, they choose you. And that was my case,” Vigas said. “I had a very close relationship with my father, who was an important painter in Venezuela. He died a few years ago. But my relationship with him was very close and warm, so it doesn’t come from a personal experience.”
The Box is also Vigas’ latest collaboration with Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco, who serves as a producer on the project. Franco also produced Vigas’ previous two films.
“Lorenzo and I are very close. We’ve been friends for more than 20 years, and we’ve been making films without knowing we were making films together,” Franco said as part of the Contenders panel. “I read the first draft of this film a long time ago, and in an unofficial way, we just started making it.”
Hernán Mendoza stars as the central father figure in the film. The actor previously starred in Franco’s 2012 pic After Lucia, and he told Deadline he will always be available if Vigas and Franco call.
He said: “I love the work of Lorenzo and Michel. They are both lovers of true acting, and I am the same way, so whatever they call me to work on, I will be ready for it because I love their work.”
Check back Monday for the panel video.