Berlin Winner Ariel Rotter’s Latest ‘A Blue Bird,’ Pushing Viewers ‘to Try to Decipher Battles Being Fought in the Protagonist’s Head’

Berlin-winning Argentine helmer Ariel Rotter (“Incident Light,” “The Others”) debuts his latest feature “A Blue Bird” (“Un Pájaro Azul”) to Spanish audiences in Málaga this week, the film screening in a particularly robust out-of-competition 19 title lineup that include Benito Zembrano’s “Jumping the Fence” and Morena Films-backed “Puntos Suspensivos,” from David Marqués.

Produced by Argentina’s Tarea Fina, behind “Sublime” and Cannes Camera d’Or winner “Las Acacias,” alongside Uruguay’s Montelona Cine (“Nunchaku”), the film follows Javier (Alfonso Tort) and his partner Valeria (Julieta Zylberberg), as they navigate their exhausting six-year battle to conceive a child.

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Scenes sit still, sometimes in silence between the pair as they embrace, breathe, sigh, indicative of the love poured into their struggle.

“In the years that my partner and I spent trying to become parents, we went through periods of great uncertainty that strengthened us and wore us down at the same time. The feeling of those years is reflected, in some ways, in the film but the synthesis process also generates precision. Telling things in a few scenes generates depth,” Rotter told Variety.

Amidst the threat of company layoffs, Javier is met with further life-altering news that his tepid office fling with co-worker Camila has resulted in her pregnancy. Abruptly entering a new phase of his life, he strives for redemption while attempting to repair long-buried wounds.

“In general, deception in love is clumsy. It can be triggered by an attraction, a novelty, but in general it’s a manifestation of discomfort. A discomfort that co-exists with love and doesn’t invalidate it,” Rotter explained.

“In this case, the couple’s in a circle of excitement and frustration due to the impossibility of becoming parents. The news of a pregnancy in another person causes structural damage to their relationship. The quick deescalation of that conflict doesn’t solve anything but it opens up a path toward perhaps the real center of the movie – which deals with what happens to this couple, especially when it comes to Javier and his inner child.”

Portraying the inner workings of the broader human condition through troubled and relatable leads, Rotter calculates Javier’s next move by utilizing a real-time rhythm, an audience allowed to sit with the discomfort as he grapples with the consequences of his lukewarm infidelity while renegotiating what it means to be a partner, a son, an adult.

“I always work on the protagonist’s mental space, in fact I love that movies are a trigger for the viewer to try to decipher and decide what battles are being fought in the protagonist’s head,” Rotter admitted.

“In this case, it’s a film of changing hypotheses. There seems to be an obvious plot on the surface – which has to do with deception – but the plot diffuses that conflict and becomes an introspective film about the emotional maturity of its protagonist.”

Javier, suffering internal and external strife bides time with his father, a particularly stoic scene sees him set-up in his childhood bedroom, scrolling through photos and videos of Valerie. Another encounter, he sits in his car outside their once-shared apartment, listening to cassette tapes he made for her when their relationship was brand new. It’s uncertain where the emotions will culminate and the open-ended scenarios lend a human aspect to the narrative.

“I like to reflect on emotions and experiences that I think I can understand. But, at the same time, I leave some of the story up to chance,” Rotter admitted. “This film is built on two thematic pillars: the years spent with my partner, our desire to become parents – all of the awkward moments our relationship experienced – and, on the other hand, a wound from the past, and how that pain tries to emerge despite the years.”

“What I didn’t know is whether these two narrative lines would eventually connect in some organic way-man as father, man as son.”

Sold by Lucia and Julia Meik’s Buenos Aires-based Meikincine, the film exposes the flesh wounds that come with modern love, laying bare relationships weathering a tsunami of emotion, betrayal predicated on a whim but carrying potentially devastating repercussions.

As the film advances alongside Javier’s forward trajectory toward self awareness, Rotter bestows him the ultimate grace, a slow-burning growth.

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