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LatinoBuzz: Paraguayan 7 Boxes (7 Cajas) Getting Positive Reviews!

Photo of Sydney Levine By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz October 10, 2012 at 3:30PM

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7 Cajas (7 Boxes) (ISA: Shoreline Ent.) is an action-thriller film from Paraguay, which was recently sold to Arrow Films for release in the U.K. and Ireland for release next summer following its heated run and offers at this year's TIFF and San Sebastian's  New Directors Section.

7 Cajas won the "Films in Progress" in San Sebastian's Film in Progress section where it was the first unanimous decision in the festival's history. The prize consisted of cash to carry out the post-production and completion of the film in Spain. After months of work, the film was finally released on August 10, 2012, receiving praise from critics and the public, and breaking box office records in Paraguayan cinemas.

Juan Carlos Maneglia, the film's director, was always a regular visitor to the town of Asunción´s Mercado 4, and in 2004, fascinated by the place and its inhabitants, he started thinking about filming the porters and vendors who work there. Mercado 4 occupies almost 8 blocks in the heart of the city, and at first glance it seems that its halls are endless. Only about 500 people live there full-time, but some 2,000 work there and thousands more to shop. Koreans, Chinese, Arabs, Jews and Paraguayans live out their daily life in the hive of the market. You can buy anything in Mercado 4: fruit, meat, vegetables, electronics, cell phones, pirate dvds, clothing and sometimes even human dignity. All kinds of people get along every day and in the corridors millions of stories are created.

The shooting of the film took place mainly at night. 7 Boxes had a cast of 30 people and a large crew. The production included an office near the shopping area, and with the support of the leadership of the Municipal Market No. 4 for logistics and safety of the film crew. Also, the National Police accompanied the filmmakers for some sequences in which some sectors needed to be closed off for location shooting. The script provides about 75 locations for about 179 scenes. "After the fieldwork, this can take a while." Maneglia Manifesto, who traveled with his team of ten corridors Mercado 4. The filming of 7 Boxes lasted two months and two days of shooting where more than 40 technicians and actors participated in the filming.

Boxes, co-directed by Paraguayan-based filmmakers Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schémbori, centers on a teenage delivery boy who must transport a load of mysterious and dangerous boxes to the edge of town.  It's Friday night in Asunción, Paraguay and the temperature is sweltering. Víctor, a 17-year-old wheelbarrow delivery boy, dreams of becoming famous and covets a fancy TV set in the infamous Mercado 4. He's offered a chance to deliver seven boxes with unknown contents in exchange for a quick US$100. But what sounds like an easy job soon gets complicated. Something in the boxes is highly coveted and Víctor and his pursuers quickly find themselves caught up in a crime they know nothing about.

The reviews have been incredible. Indiewire gives it an A. Variety writes, “filmmaking partners Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schembori build a rollicking entertainment with 7 Boxes. Certain to be one of the first titles from Paraguay to make a serious dent in the international marketplace, the pic makes a pleasurable surplus from minimal resources and plenty of ironic-comic-violent storytelling energy. Word of mouth will translate into lusty sales worldwide, with a good chance Stateside to buck the recent trend of a lack of Spanish-language hits.”

MSN writes, “I'd actually suggest that '7 Boxes' is better [than ‘Slumdog Millionaire’]; it's got a better sense of real place, of action, of pacing … I felt the same vibe I did from ‘Reservoir Dogs’ or ‘El Mariachi’ or ‘Primer’ … hurtling action and camerawork so deft in the heat of the moment you almost --almost -- don't notice how good it is … it's a thriller with life, heart and excitement coursing through it until you can feel the power of the passion that made the film it sputtering off every frame like sparks from a roaring fire.”

This article is related to: Reviews, Toronto International Film Festival