Spain, France


1973.Uruguay is governed by a military dictatorship. One autumn night, three Tupamaro prisoners are taken from their jail cells in a secret military operation. The order is precise: “As we can’t kill them, let’s drive them mad.” The three men will remain in solitary confinement for twelve years. Among them is Pepe Mujica – later to become president of Uruguay.

Director's Statement

What is left of a man after everything has been stripped away? Uncommunicated, isolated in time, with no stimuli and no tangible place to hold on to, his own senses start to betray him. But deep inside there is something that nobody can take away: his imagination. A twelve-year night is, above all, a descent into the abyss. Based on a true story, it shows how three men were gradually dispossessed of everything that made them individuals over 12 years. They endured a physical and mental process designed to drive them insane with the ultimate goal of destroying any resistance within their deepest selves. They were forced to re-invent themselves from the remainders of their human condition in order to resist one of the most sinister ordeals imaginable.

As director and writer, this project has taken me more than four years of research and documentation. One of the key challenges was to avoid making a prison film, but rather an existential journey. The military order was very clear: “Since we couldn’t kill them, we will drive them insane.” Beyond a meticulous historical re-creation of the events, I sought to portray an aesthetic and sensory journey, allowing the audience to experience how to survive such an inner battle.

The three actors (Antonio de la Torre, Chino Darín and Alfonso Tort) had to undergo a very demanding mental and physical conditioning program (each lost around 15 kilos) in order to bring us closer to the extreme circumstances they suffered. The staging aimed to make us feel next to them, immersing us in the struggle that a man orchestrates in order to remain human.

It was a dark journey, but also a very rewarding one. Full of complexities and challenges, the film re-affirmed my belief that, even in those moments when circumstances may lead us to believe that everything is lost, human strength and endurance should never be underestimated.

Director's Biography

Alvaro Brechner was born in Montevideo in 1976 and has lived in Madrid since 2000. He graduated in Social Communication (Uruguay Catholic University, 1998) and obtained a Masters in Creative Documentary (Barcelona University, 1999).

Between 2000 and 2007, he directed several short films (THE NINE MILE WALK, SOFA, SECOND ANNIVERSARY) which premiered in over 140 International Festivals and were sold to TV in over 15 countries, as well as dozens of documentaries (LA REY DEL RING, SEFARAD TESTIMONIO DE UNA AUSENCIA, PAPÁ, POR QUÉ SOMOS DEL ATLETI), shown in Spanish national TV, Canal Historia and Canal Odisea.

In 2009, he wrote and directed his first feature film, BAD DAY TO GO FISHINH, which participated in the official section of the Cannes Critics’ Week. The film also took part in over 60 international festivals and garnered over 30 awards.

MR. KAPLAN, his second film (2014) was selected for over 40 international festivals and sold for distribution in theatres in over 25 countries.

In December 2015, Alvaro was named as one of the ten emerging talents of Ibero-American cinema by Variety.
He has obtained the Uruguayan National Literature Prize and has taken part in several festivals as a member of the jury, including the Cannes Festival Critics’ Week, Warsaw, Malaga, Sofa, Gijon, Torino and Valencia. A TWELVE-YEAR NIGHT is his third film.

2014 - MR. KAPLAN
2005 - SOFIA, short

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Alvaro Brechner

Written by: Alvaro Brechner

Produced by: Mariela Besuievsky, Gerardo Herrero, Vanessa Ragone, Fernando Sokolowicz, Birgit Kemner, Philippe Gompel

Cinematography: Carlos Catalán

Editing: Irene Blecua, Nacho Ruiz Capillas

Production Design: Laura Musso

Costume Design: Alejandra Rosasco

Make-Up & Hair: Kenyar Padilla, Almudena Fonseca

Original Score: Federico Jusid

Sound: Laurent Chassaigne, Eduardo Esquide, Nacho Royo-Villanova

Visual Effects: Óscar Abades, Curro Muñoz

Cast: Antonio De La Torre (José "Pepe" Mujica), Chino Darín (Mauricio Rosencof), Alfonso Tort (Eleuterio Fernández Huidobro)

Nominations and Awards

  • European Sound 2019
  • Feature Film Selection 2019