• Golden Globe Awards

My Tender Matador [Tengo Miedo Torero] (Chile-Argentina-Mexico)

It’s 1986 Chile and Augusto Pinochet is losing control of the country. In one of Santiago’s poor neighborhoods, we meet the ‘Queen of Corner’ (Loca del Frente, played by Alfredo Castro), a lonely, romantic, aging and proud cross-dresser who listens to ‘boleros’ incessantly to drown out the gunshots coming from the streets while embroidering tablecloths for military wives. Amid the political turmoil of the Pinochet dictatorship, the Queen falls in love with Carlos (Leonardo Ortizgris), a handsome young member of the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front, who asks to use her house to hide boxes of secret documents of the revolution and to hold clandestine meetings plotting an attack on the dictator.
Based on the novel of the same name by celebrated Chilean writer Pedro Lemebel, My Tender Matador tells the story of a risky clandestine operation and what people do for love. Written and directed by Rodrigo Sepúlveda (Aurora, Padre Nuestro) and produced by Forastero and Zapik Films (Chile), Tornado (Argentina) and Caponeto (Mexico), the film is both melodrama and political thriller, taking us on a journey back to the historic events that changed Chile forever.
Pedro Lemebel (1952-2015) was, among other things, an essayist and chronicler of Chile and the dictatorship. As a gay man, he showed the queer perspective of the country and the political turmoil that was severely underrepresented.
“The truth is that Pedro Lemebel asked me 15 years ago to play Loca del Frente. With Rodrigo Sepulveda, we have made it possible. Pedro would be very glad that I did,” says Castro (Blanco en Blanco, The Club).
“I first read the book as a run-of-the-mill reader. This is the type of book, once you are done, you say, ‘There is a film here. This story deserves to be told in a film,’” remembers Sepulveda. But that thought abandoned him. It was years later when the sexual liberation movement arose during the democracy and Pedro Lemebel began to reappear that Sepulveda decided to adapt it for the screen.
“The adaptation of the book was a very long, solitary and intense work,” explains the director, who made the decision or rather arrived at the conviction that “this is an adaptation. The novel is the novel, and the movie is the movie. Once I felt that freedom, I began to write calmly,” he adds.
Writing the Castro character was an arduous task since Loca del Frente is in 98% of the scenes of the movie. “He is everything. Five to six human beings coexist within it. That´s what made the job so interesting,” says the director. “The creation of the costumes, the hair, the makeup, the voices, the body movement of Alfredo to give life to the different Locas who live within the character.”
After the premiere at the Giornate Degli Autori, the independent section of the Venice Film Festival in 2020, the film was launched in Chile. “We had a commitment with the team that, in Chile, the film should also be brought to Lemebel´s followers — in public places, in squares, in the provinces, where our cinema does not arrive massively and definitely not in the most traditional way,” says Sepulveda.