Natalia Garagiola (Buenos Aires, 1982) graduated from Universidad del Cine, where she later imparted classes. In 2004 she finished an MA in Sreenwriting at FIA-UIMP (Spain).
She has written and directed three fiction short-films: RINCÓN DE LÓPEZ (2011), released at BAFICI; YEGUAS Y COTORRAS (Mares and Parakeets; 2012) premiered at the Semaine de la Critique Short- film Competition (Festival de Cannes). Her latest shortfilm, SUNDAYS (2014), will premiere at the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Festival de Cannes) as a part of the Nordic Factory.
Additionally, she took part of the Experimental Film Lab (Universidad Di Tella). Her videos “Pista” (Track; 2007) and “Plaza” (Square; 2008) were both selected for Videoformes Video Art & Digital Cultures.
A milky haze spreads light over the bright green grass of a sports field. It’s a cold winter morning in Buenos Aires. About a hundred kids from 13 to 18 years old are playing different sports. They have been divided by activity: Soccer, Hockey and Athletics.
All of a sudden, activities are interrupted. A strong argument can be heard close by. Excited teenagers run across the field and join a circle around Nahuel (17), who’s fighting with a classmate. It’s a fierce struggle, they scream and cheer as Nahuel completely subdues the other kid, punching him out of control.
Nahuel has recently lost his mother. His stepdad, Bautista, is unable to find a legal solution to keep his custody, so Nahuel must live with his biological father, Ernesto, for three months until he’s legally adult. Ernesto is a hunter, with an isolated life in the outskirts of San Martín de los Andres, a small town in Patagonia. He lives with his pregnant wife, Luisina, and their four daughters.
Nahuel and Bautista haven’t seen each other for over ten years. Already when Nahuel arrives to the South, their relationship promises to be an awkward one: Nahuel is reluctant and arrogant, while Ernesto pretends to keep his routine without getting emotionally involved with the kid. The days go by and the tension between them grows; Nahuel seems to be determined not to comply with his father’s instructions and Ernesto’s patience runs thin.
One day, Nahuel is left alone in the family cabin and trashes the place; he escapes. An unusual and violent encounter leads to friendship with some local kids. Drunk and high, Nahuel wanders without clear destination. Ernesto finds him, drags him to his truck and back home. He forces him to eat, but when Nahuel resists and disrespects him, he loses his temper and both father and wrestle in what appears to be an even fight, until Ernesto decides to end it by subduing his son with his weight. They feel primitive, comforted by this brief physical contact.
The next morning, Luisina and the girls leave town for a few days. Ernesto orders Nahuel to join him in a hunting trip simulation. He teaches him how to handle firearms, the only activity that has peaked Nahuel’s interest so far; he’s a quick learner with innate talent. As they head back home across the woods, Ernesto deliberately lowers his guard and exposes himself to Nahuel in a clearing, seemingly tracking an animal and offering Nahuel a chance to shoot him: a test. Nahuel targets his father from the distance, but lowers the weapon. Past this point, tension slowly dissipates, as if each had made a decision.
Nahuel visits the local kids frecuently, an environment where he can pursue danger and push his limits.
Hunting season arrives and Ernesto takes Nahuel with him. Nahuel gets to know better his father through the stories shared by other hunters in the group. Gradually, he starts recognizing his own abilities and features in his father. Still distant yet interested in each other, they bond as they dive into the deep forest.
Bautista shows up one morning unexpectedly , he needs to see whether Nahuel is fine or not. Along with him, comes the chance to go back to Buenos Aires. Nahuel is confused; seeing Bautista again makes him understand he’s the only loving father he can have. Nevertheless, he decides to face his biological father and stay there until he’s 18, as planned. Bautista understands and goes back to Buenos Aires.
Ernesto and Nahuel go on a final hunting trip. Nahuel is now more confident and skilled, but hasn’t yet earned the full trust of his father, so he decides to split from the group and kill a deer on his own; he gets lost in the forest and ends up finding a prey by chance: a fragile deer, unaware of his presence. Nahuel aims patiently, holding his breath as he was taught. He fires and the shallow sound of the shot echoes in the forest. The animal is badly hurt but still alive: the shot was not clean. Unable to walk, the deer lies down and squeals, suffering; the sound is horrid. Nahuel panics and tries to ammend his damage; he puts pressure on the wound, trying to stop the bleeding; he’s desperate. Ernesto finds him and runs towards them, followed by the other hunters. After making sure Nahuel is fine, he finishes the animal.
On the way back to the cabin, Nahuel tells his father that he will never feel for him what he felt for his mother. Ernesto nods, silently. He apologizes, as the night falls over the forest.
Early in the morning, before the sun has even reached the cabin, Nahuel leaves. Father and son bid farewell...