A restored version of Iván Zulueta’s ground-breaking 1979 film “Arrebato” (“Rapture”) is screening at the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, thanks to Los Angeles distributor Altered Innocence and Madrid’s Mercury Films.
The cult film, considered a milestone in Spanish cinema from the post-Franco years, is seen as metaphor for how directors can be consumed by filmmaking. It centers on José, a frustrated low-budget horror movie director trying to complete a film while struggling with drug addiction. When he receives a package from past acquaintance Pedro — a Super-8 film reel and audiotape – José soon finds himself sucked back into the eccentric young man’s vampiric orbit.
“‘Arrebato’ has such a rich mix of horror influences, punk aesthetics, arthouse vibes, and queer cinema history that audiences can’t help being enraptured by this total gem of a film,” says Frank Jaffe, founder and head of Altered Innocence.
“It also helps that besides acting in the film as a dubbed transgender character, Pedro Almodóvar has been such an outspoken patron of the film and of its director, Iván Zulueta,” Jaffe adds.
“Audiences really came out in support of the film and of the new 35mm print we had created for the theatrical run and we’re thrilled that Criterion Channel realized the potential of the film and signed it for an exclusive run on their channel.”
Jaffe notes that the film never got a theatrical release in U.S. “besides a couple festivals and a repertory run in South Florida in the ’80s that apparently went on for a while.”
Jaffe oversaw the new 4K restoration, completed in 2020 by the American Genre Film Archive in Texas using a 4K scan by Mercury Films.
“Arrebato” screens at Lyon’s MIFC as part of this year’s focus on Spanish film heritage. Paris-based Tamasa Distribution holds French rights to the film.
Launched by Jaffe in 2015, Altered Innocence focuses on LGBTQ and coming-of-age films with an artistic edge.
The company is preparing the theatrical release in November of another work from the Spanish transition era, a new HD restoration of Antonio Giménez Rico’s “Vestida de Azul” (“Dressed in Blue”) from 1983.
The docu-fiction hybrid follows the lives of six transgender women in a country where democracy has just arrived and where the transgender community is beginning to emerge from the shadows of the Franco dictatorship.
“Anthology Film Archives [in New York City] is running it for a week and we’re booking it across the U.S. as well,” says Jaffe.
Also headed for an Anthology Film Archives run in November is Patrice Chéreau’s 1983 drama “The Wounded Man” — one of a number of high-profile Studiocanal restorations Altered Innocence is releasing. The lineup includes François Ozon’s “Sitcom” (1998), “Criminal Lovers” (1999) and “Water Drops on Burning Rocks” (2000); and André Téchiné’s acclaimed 1994 drama “Wild Reeds.”
Altered Innocence will also be releasing a 2K restoration of Gaspar Noé’s 2002 psychological thriller “Irreversible” along with the director’s new version entitled “Irreversible: Straight Cut.” The film premieres on the closing night of the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival this month.
This year Jaffe also oversaw the 4K restoration of David Buckley’s 1975 U.S. film “Saturday Night at the Baths,” described as a “landmark excursion into bisexuality, ’70s relationship politics, and the historical importance of gay bathhouse culture” that was shot on location at the famous Continental Baths in New York City. Altered Innocence is now releasing the film on home video.
The company has also distributed several other newly restored works, such as Garth Maxwell’s 1993 New Zealand film “Jack Be Nimble,” a gothic horror thriller starring Alexis Arquette and Sarah Smuts-Kennedy as troubled twins who were abandoned by their parents.
Other new releases include two X-rated vintage gay films from American director and queer cinema pioneer Arthur J. Bressan, Jr., “Passing Strangers” (1974) and “Forbidden Letters” (1979).