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Movistar Plus+ Unveils 'Los Tigres' by Alberto Rodríguez

Movistar Plus+ Unveils ‘Los Tigres’ by Alberto Rodríguez

In what remains the Spanish film industry’s biggest event of 2024, last January, pay TV Movistar Plus+, behind premium series like “A Perfect Life” and “The Plague,” summoned local press to unveil its biggest strategic move for the last few years.

Accompanying Movistar Plus execs Domingo Corral and Guillermo Farré were five of the coolest, most successful and relatively young filmmakers in Spain today: Rodrigo Sorogoyen, Alberto Rodríguez, Iciar Bolláin, Oliver Laxe and Ana Rujas. Together they outlined plans to make event auteur movies backed for commercial release in Spanish theaters by the promotional muscle of Movistar Plus+.

Six months later, Rodríguez, director of Goya Award winner “Marshland” and 1580s Seville thriller series “The Plague,” is caught on set by Variety on Spain’s southern seaboard, on a boat just off Huelva, home to huge smoke-belching refineries and stunning natural parks.

That setting provides “Los Tigres” a bigger canvas. However, Rodríguez maintains the movie is a personal turn after deep dives into Spanish history, catching the country at times of change, such as “Prison 77,” a true event jailbreak film that became the most-watched movie on Movistar Plus+ in 2023, outgunning Hollywood blockbusters.

“Los Tigres” stars Antonio de la Torre (“The Endless Trench,” “The Realm, ” “Group 7”) as Antonio, an industrial diver who handles the upkeep of submerged pipelines connecting big oil tankers to Huelva’s land-based refineries.

Clad like underwater astronauts, Antonio and sister Estrella (Barbara Lennie, “Magical Girl,” “The Realm”) face solitude and huge risks at work as Antonio begins to sense that his time is past, that he’s just one more diver in the world’s vast oceans. Forced to reconnect with his sister and adapt to a land-based life, Antonio’s life is wrenched apart when he and Estrella discover a cocaine’ stash in the hull of an anchored ship at Huelva’s main port.

Written with Rodríguez’s career-long co-writer Rafael Cobos (“The Plague”), “Los Tigres” is produced by Movistar Plus+ and co-produced by Kowalski Films and Feelgood Media in Spain, joined by France’s Le Pacte. The Walt Disney Company handles Spanish theatrical distribution; Film Factory holds international rights.

“It’s a character-driven feature, though Rodríguez’s stories tend to fold many different layers together,” noted Guillermo Farré, head of film at Movistar Plus+. “I think his true intention is to recreate the social reality, including its complexities, like commercial diving’s dangerous and difficult work conditions.

Shooting has taken place at the Huelva-CEPSA’ petrochemical plant and Huelva’s industrial port facilities, the Unesco protected Odiel River marshland and Alicante’s Ciudad de la Luz film studios. Wrapping July 5, production has involved oil tankers and tugs, ships and divers for open sea underwater scenes.

“The unique element to Movistar’s film Originals is their bet on auteurs, looking after them and aiming to make the best features possible,” explained Kowalski Films producer Koldo Zuazua. “The work we all do together is really constructive, and we are all on the same page in terms of creativity and intentions.”

Variety spoke with Rodríguez on set:

What’s at the core of “Los Tigres”?

It’s a “big heart” feature with a thriller mechanism, like “Prison 77,” with a focus on relations between characters, inside and outside the core environment.

How did you approach the change in narrative and the subject of the film?

We had done a few films which revisited Spain’s recent history. But we wanted to feel free and liberated from this weight of history. We aimed for an open feature. We talked about this when we finished “Prison” – making a personal film. When all is said and done, what interests us most are emotions. We prioritize our characters above all.

Nature looks key in the film. How did you approach it?

It’s like where we’re sitting. You have the petrochemical area over there, and that’s Saltes Island, an islet in the Huelva River industry and a natural paradise. There are two shores: Man and nature.

“Los Tigres” looks like part of a push by Movistar Plus+ to push auteur event films. How does that affect you?

We have achieved a great balance with a lot of freedom, which is really important. They are betting on films by auteurs, which may be what marks them apart from other platforms. This film could easily have become formulaic, but it’s pretty far from that, given it’s not a thriller. Its characters carry more weight than the rest of the context.

How has working underwater affected your direction of actors?

They both had to work out and prepare a lot. Just their head equipment can weigh up to 15 kilograms. Physically, it is hard for them. But Antonio de la Torre enjoys that a lot. He has been diving around the island to prepare. Barbara Lennie enjoys it, too, because she loves these physical changes.