Panama’s Abner Benaim’s sophomore narrative feature Plaza Catedral is a dramatic thriller featuring actress Ilse Salas (The Good Girls, Güeros, Cantinflas) and Manolo Cardona (Narcos). Newcomer Fernando de Casta, who was chosen from over 250 kids who came in for open casting, is also amongst the principal cast. Benaim’s first narrative feature was the 2009 comedy Chance, but has since become a notable documentarian, with 2018’s Ruben Blades Is Not My Name won the Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival in the 24 Beats Per Second category and was Panama’s submission for the 91st Academy Awards. Plaza Catedral is Benaim’s most ambitious film to date; with DP Lorenzo Hagerman (Escalante’s Heli, 2013), editor Soledad Salfate (of Sebastian Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman and Gloria) and music by Matthew Herbert (A Fantastic Woman, The Cave).
We had an interview with Abner Benaim’ about making of Plaza Catedral:
Plaza Catedral is the story of Alicia, a young woman that had a “perfect life” and lost it. Her six year old son died in an accident. Her grief is plagued by guilt, which has made her disasso-ciate from society, from married life, and from herself.
She now lives in the Old Quarter of Panama, a rich colonial enclave surrounded by Panamá’s poorest neighborhoods. There she meets Chief, a street-smart 13 year old who takes care of cars in front of her apartment and insists on getting paid for his job. Alicia keeps a safe distance from him, until one night Chief arrives at Alicia’s apartment bleeding from a gunshot wound, and begs her to let him inside.