PerSo Award

by Elena Goatelli, Angel Esteban
Italia / Spagna, 2020, 72′

Sabato 10 ottobre Postmodernissimo ore 19.30
Domenica 11 ottobre Postmodernissimo Sala Visconti ore 15.00 (replica)

Directors: Elena Goatelli & Angel Esteban
DoP: Guillermo Vázquez Díaz
Productor: Roberto Cavallini (Altrove Films)
Co-productors: Angel Esteban (KOTTOMfilms), Primavera Ruìz (Prima & Vera Productions), Fernando Martín.

World Premiere | PerSo Lab award 2017


A group of actors in Madrid are cast in a show devised as a dance marathon. The performance, loosely based on Sydney Pollack’s film ‘They shoot horses don’t they’ (1969), is an unscripted competition and an exploration of the “macabre cabaret” of dance marathon contests. In more than 80 performances during three years, the group had to come to terms with nerve-wrecking and absurd situations, physical battles and psychological debacles. The film directors follow the group on and off stage, asking them to self-record moments of their everyday lives.

Playing with the concept of a reality show turned into a documentary and exploring the blurried difference between stage persona and everyday personality, ‘Malditos’ follows their drifting between ideas of success, failure, fame and competition, interweaving non-fiction interventions and staged representations, constantly blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality.

Director’s statement

When we met ‘Malditos’ for the first time in November 2015, they were performing their show in Madrid, in one of the most important cultural centres of the city, Naves Matadero. They told us their story as a group and their struggle to find their place in society. We immediately felt a strong connection because of our creative work as filmmakers and the misleading balance between success and self-realization that permeates our own lives; we realized how their story could represent not just the story of a group of theatre actors, but the story of our generation.

Given the conceptual importance of their performance which ironically plays with the idea of the reality show reframed by theatre, we thought of creating a film which could add another layer of meaning, while reclaiming documentary cinema’s vocation towards reality. During the last 3 years, we have been collecting audio and video materials self-recorded by the main characters with their mobile devices. In this way, we had direct access to their private lives through positive and negative moments, breakdowns and accomplishments, ordinary but poetic fragments of themselves.

These intimate, powerful and engaging stories on the backstage of their lives will be told with the priviledged and not filtered point of view represented by their mobile devices materials. Additionally, beside the performance and the self-recorded fragments of everyday life, we added another meta-cinematic layer, the actors discussing, in the back stage, their own performance: this third layer plays with the ambiguity of the protagonists’ identities. Are they acting or are they impersonating themselves? Is their self-awareness playing against our intentions as directors? We believe the film finds a sort of chaotic sense in opening up to this dimension of ambiguity and stupor towards reality.


Elena, born in Bolzano, after a degree in foreign languages ​​and literature from Ca’Foscari in Venice, in 2002 won a Leonardo scholarship that allowed her to start working in the documentary department of Canal + Spain. She collaborates in various documentary productions also as a screenwriter, such as “Prado Abierto” on the Prado Museum for Atresmedia.

Angel, born in Madrid, after his studies in directing and cinematography began to work in television, cinema and advertising. Since 2004 he has worked as a DOP in various documentary and doc-series productions, also investigating new creative and narrative languages ​​also in the world of musical and theatrical performance. As in “I Love Madrid” (2020) artistic residence of the Cuban Jose Hernandez where performance and documentary intertwine.

Elena Goatelli and Angel Esteban have been working together in the creation of documentaries for more than ten years. They live and work between the Dolomites and the city of Madrid. Their first feature film of 2013 One minute for conductors was World Premiere at IDFA, winner of the Best Documentary Film Award at the Dock of the Bay Festival (Spain) and Cebu Film Festival (Philippines) is distributed in South Korea by JIN JIN Pictures and worldwide by SND FILMS. In 2015 they made the film about the mountaineer Tom Ballard TOM, winner of more than 10 international awards, distributed in France, Italy and the United Kingdom. In 2020 the documentary film Malditos will premiere, produced by Altrove films and KOTTOMfilms with the support of the Trentino Film Commission and the Centro di Arte Vive Naves Matadero in Madrid.