Nelson Carlo de los Santos Arias’ mesmerizing revenge drama Cocote has been selected as the Dominican Republic’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film. The intense and discomfiting film, at once head-spinning and rhythmic in its docu-realist style, is de los Santos Arias’ first fiction feature and first submission for Oscar consideration. The film, distributed in the U.S. by Grasshopper Film, represents the 11th submission for the Dominican Republic, with no nominations yet.
Cocote—winner of of the Best Film Award at Locarno’s Signs of Life competition and festival favorite across the international circuit—follows Alberto, a kind-hearted gardener returning home to attend his father’s funeral. When he discovers that a powerful local figure is responsible for his father’s death, Alberto realizes that he’s been summoned by his family to avenge the murder. It’s an unthinkable act—especially for him, an evangelical Christian. But as pressure mounts, he sees few ways out.
Questions of faith, tradition, and honor course through this electrifying film, that, seemingly at the speed of thought itself, jumps between film formats, colors, and aspect ratios, radically envisioning a community torn asunder by senseless violence. Starring Vicente Santos, Judith Rodríguez, and Yuberbi de la Rosa, and with nods to the films of Glauber Rocha and the fiction of Roberto Bolaño, Cocote marks the coming of age of Dominican cinema on the world stage.