A film of lush visuals and raw emotion, Monos adopts the personality of a twisted fairy-tale. Invoking the thematic core of Lord of the Flies, it comments on the dehumanising effect of war and the seemingly endless cycles of violence in many South American nations. But there's no 'once upon a time' here, as Brazilian-born Colombian filmmaker Landes transports audiences to an unnamed mountain jungle in Latin America that can best be described as hell on earth. Teenagers with names such as "Wolf", "Lady", "Rambo" and "Dog" are holding captive an adult prisoner they call Doctora (Julianne Nicholson, excellent). These emotionally destroyed youngsters answer to a shadowy group known as The Organisation. (It's worth noting here that child soldiers brainwashed by the Khmer Rouge were instructed to obey Angkar, which translates as The Organisation). The fracturing of power and breakdown of loyalties in the soldier group is masterfully depicted, alongside Doctora's attempt to master her own version of psychological warfare and break free. This feral and furious drama is set to a score by Mica Levi (Under the Skin) that brilliantly places otherworldly sounds into the nightmare we're watching.
Official Competition director biography: Alejandro Landes is a Colombian director, writer and producer. His directorial debut Cocalero premiered at Sundance in 2007 and was theatrically released in over 20 countries, while his second feature Porfirio premiered in the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Monos is his third feature film.