• Golden Globe Awards

Holy Beasts (Dominican Republic)

A film within a film, a story about a story, the meta thriller Holy Beasts follows an aging former movie star turned director (Geraldine Chaplin) who gets together with a group of fellow artists in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic, to complete the unfinished project of their friend, the real-life B-movie filmmaker Jean-Louis Jorge, who was murdered by three teenagers in 2000 at the age of 53.    
Written and directed by Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán (Cochochi, Sand Dollars), with a running time of 90 minutes and acted in Spanish and English, the film was shot at the island’s Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios and on the plush Casa de Campo Resort. The cast features Udo Kier and Jaime Pina in the roles of a cinematographer and a producer.
The story revolves around the difficulties of movie shoots, the tight budgets and schedules, the accidents, the conflicts of creative wills. It also hinges on Vera’s inner journey as she asks herself what matters and has mattered the most to her in her life while everything seems to take a catastrophic turn in the production as members of the cast mysteriously die.  The end result is reminiscent of Truffaut‘s Day for Night, with a horror twist.
As the film within the film, there’s a wistful contrast between the aged stars, both in front of and behind the camera, and the fit, beautiful, and often androgynous dancers in the supporting cast.  
The film premiered in the Panorama section at the Berlinale, Berlin. “We were a little tired of how we’d been producing films, and for years I had been investigating this guy, this filmmaker Jean-Louis Jorge,” director Guzman told Variety, in Berlin. “His films are a little extravagant. They try to imitate, or pay tribute to, classic Hollywood cinema.”
He added, “Thinking about how films are produced here in my country – the Dominican Republic – and the fact that the industry is growing and there are so many new studios here, we thought it would be a good idea to do this one in a studio. That idea took root. Another indicator of our growth is the involvement of major, established actors like Geraldine Chaplin, with whom we had worked on our previous film.”
“Although the locations are on a large scale, Holy Beasts is still an intimate and somewhat simple film,” says director Cardenas. “When we were paying homage to the work of Jean-Louis Jorge, it was natural for us to work in the studios and explore the spaces that are rarely seen on the screen, backstage and out of frame. We tried to gather characters that made sense of what we had read or seen of the JLJ projects, and we created logic within those worlds that he had created.”
He continues, “Filming in these places was special because it’s a dream of many filmmakers from past generations. Filming there is also part of a tribute we wanted to make.” The filmmakers hope that this film will put the Dominican Republic on the map as an international film-making destination, complete with state-of-the-art studios and skilled workers.