Programme

THE MOLE AGENT (EL AGENTE TOPO)

Maite Alberdi

Chile, USA, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, 2020 / 90 min / Spanish OV with French &/or English subt. / Documentary

A retired widower infiltrates a retirement home to uncover the truth behind the residents’ living conditions. However, he’s 83, not 007.

When a family becomes concerned about their mother’s well-being in a retirement home, private investigator Rómulo hires Sergio, an 83 years-old man, to infiltrate the care home as a new resident. However, Sergio is 83, not 007, and no natural-born detective. His first obstacle is all the technology – pen cameras, smartphones, and the other devices he’ll need to gather evidence and report back to Rómulo. The situation gets even more complicated when Sergio, a recent widower, struggles to maintain the emotional distance necessary for carrying out his assignment as a mole and becomes increasingly involved in the lives of several other residents. Slowly, he comes to realise that the menacing truth beneath the retirement home is not what anyone had suspected.

Maite Alberdi’s The Mole Agent is a stylish combination of an observational documentary and a spy movie, with sleek camerawork and wonderfully watchable characters. It’s a unique meditation on compassion and loneliness that will infiltrate your heart and never let go.

 

Screenings
Sat 06/03 16:30 Cinémathèque ES OV with EN subt. Public https://luxfilmfestfilms.megatix.be/en/HO00003269
Sun 07/03 10:00 Online Public https://online.luxfilmfest.lu/film/the-mole-agent/
Sun 07/03 19:30 Ciné Utopia ES OV with FR subt. Public https://luxfilmfestfilms.megatix.be/en/HO00003269
Fri 12/03 16:30 Ciné Utopia ES OV with FR subt. Public https://luxfilmfestfilms.megatix.be/en/HO00003269

The Mole Agent is so meticulously stylized and paced that it feels like fiction. […] Across this cleverly shot film, viewers become the unobtrusive flies on the wall that Sergio can’t quite bring himself to be. Alberdi received permission to shoot inside the nursing home by telling its staff that she was making a documentary about old age. Undercover themselves, the crew then had to pretend they didn’t know Sergio when he showed up three weeks later—even though they had met him while filming the job interviews Rómulo conducted to find his “mole agent.” With their cover established, Alberdi and crew capture something of an undercover-cop cliché unfolding in real life: the gradual process of the mole becoming accepted, beloved, and integrated into the community he’s meant to be spying on.” Pat Brown, Slant Magazine, 31/08/2020

“Alberdi is careful to make sure that the universal truths and emotions behind this endeavour always shine through. It’s thanks to her unflinching eye, which takes in many of Sergio’s conversations with other residents as well as the repetitive nature of their daily lives, that we come to understand many of these people have been effectively abandoned by their families. Finding themselves so isolated, they have created their own support network and, in some cases, live in entirely fictional worlds. " Nikki Baughan, Empire, 11/12/2020

“The result is a profoundly original film that moves beyond its initial comic premise to offer moving insights on the lives and needs of the elderly – and not merely in Chile.” Christopher Orr, Forbes, 13/10/2020

“With a wryly comical undertone continuing throughout the film, what begins as a detective yarn gradually evolves into something more intimate, resulting in an original view of affection and loneliness in old age.” IDFA

Awards
  • Cinema Eye Honors Award – The Unforgettables, Cinema Eye Honors Awards, 2021 (USA)
  • Audience Award for the Best European Film, San Sebastián International Film Festival, 2020 (Spain)
Cast & Credits
Cast 
Sergio Chamy
Screenplay 
Maite Alberdi
Cinematographer 
Pablo Valdés
Sound 
Pablo Bahamondez
Set 
Mauricio González, Lalo Arratia
Music 
Vincent van Warmerdam
Production 
Micromundo Producciones, Motto Pictures, Sutor Kolonko, Malvalanda, Volya Films
Distribution 
Dogwoof
Biography

Maite Alberdi studied film and aesthetics at the Universidad Católica de Chile. She is a writer-director who has developed a highly particular style that achieves intimate portrayals of the characters she works with through everyday stories in small-scale worlds. She has written and directed several documentary feature films, as well as three documentary shorts. Her first critically acclaimed feature, The Lifeguard (2011) premiered at IDFA. Her documentary short Tea Time (2015) was broadcast through PBS’ POV TV and won multiple awards, including Best Documentary at Miami International Film Festival. In 2016, she premiered I’m Not From Here which won Best Short Film at Visions du Réel and was nominated for the European Film Awards. Maite Alberdi also works as a documentary teacher at the Universidad Católica de Chile and is the co-author of the book Documentary Film Theories in Chile: 1957-1973.

Filmography
  • 2020 – El agente topo (documentary)
  • 2019 – Dios (documentary)
  • 2016 – The Grown-Ups (documentary)
  • 2016 – I’m Not From Here (documentary short)
  • 2014 – La Once (documentary)
  • 2014 – Propaganda (documentary)
  • 2011 – El salvavidas (documentary)
  • 2008 – Las peluqueras (documentary short)
  • 2005 – Los trapecistas (documentary short)