Archive of films Aro Tolbukhin: In the Mind of a Killer / Aro Tolbukhin: En la mente del asesino

Spain / Mexico
2002, 100 min

Section: Another View
Year: 2003

A film meditation on truth and mystification, centring on the true story of Hungarian emigrant Aro Tolbukhin who was sentenced to death for burning seven people alive in a mission hospital in Guatemala in 1982.


In 1982 Hungarian Aro Tolbukhin burned seven people alive in a mission hospital in Guatemala. After being apprehended, he claimed responsibility for killing 17 women, all pregnant, whom he allegedly murdered during his 15-year travels as a sailor. Investigations by his lawyer and psychologist, however, cast doubt upon Tolbukhin’s claim. Prior to Tolbukhin’s execution, two French documentarists, Lise August and Yves Keetman, interviewed him for a five-part series on the death penalty. August and Keetman, fascinated by the killer and his contradictions, question a number of people who came into contact with him. The result is a compelling composition delving to the roots of a person with a mysterious and complicated past, to the source of his obsession and his warped character. At age 16, at the time of the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary, the 42-year-old killer emigrated and joined up with a French unit in Algeria. A year later he deserted into the Sahara which, after the loss of his beloved twin sister, brought its desert demons to reside permanently in his soul. The filmmakers’ multi-level composition leads to a reflection on truth and mystification, as well as on the dramatic symbiosis of the purest human emotions and violence.

About the director

Agustí Villaronga (1953, Mallorca) shot several shorts, then feature debuted with In a Glass Cage (1985), selected for the Berlin competition in 1986, and he also won Best Film at Barcelona. Moon Child (1988) competed at Cannes 1989 and won three Goyas. The Sea (2000) took the Manfred Salzberg Award (most innovative film) at the Berlinale. Other films: El pasajero clandestino (1995), 99,9 (1997) and the documentary Al Andalus (1992), selected for the competition at Bristol. Lydia Zimmermann has shot experimental short films and videos, including Wake (1996), a winner of international awards. She has also worked in film as an editor, screenwriter, camerawoman, and assistant director. Isaac-Pierre Racine has worked in film and video for over 15 years. He has independently produced and directed the following experimental videos and shorts: No Title until the End (1992), Artattack (1994) and Don the Stain (1985). The medium-length film Scuba Drive (1997), produced for Canadian television, revealed his interest in the combination of documentary and drama and the symbiosis of the two genres. Aro Tolbukhin: In the Mind of a Killer is his first feature-length debut.


Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales
Plaza del Rey 1, 28004, Madrid
Tel: +34 917 017 000, +34 917 017 259
Fax: +34 917 017 394
E-mail: [email protected]

Oberon Cinematografica, S.A.
Aragón 217, 08007, Barcelona
Tel: +34 93 451 2560
Fax: +34 93 451 5140
E-mail: [email protected]

Altavista Films
, 11000, Colonia Lomas de Chapultepec
Tel: +52 555 201 9000
E-mail: [email protected]

Grupo Pi.
, 28034, Madrid
Tel: +34 91 334 01 41
Fax: +34 91 729 46 44

About the film

35 mm

Section: Another View
Director: Agustí Villaronga, Lydia Zimmermann, Isaac-Pierre Racine
Screenplay: Agustí Villaronga, Lydia Zimmermann, Isaac-Pierre Racine
Dir. of Photography: Guillermo Granillo
Music: José Manuel Pagán
Editor: Ernest Blasi
Producer: Antonio Chavarrías
Production: Oberon Cinematografica, S.A., koprodukce / co-production: Altavista Films
Cast: Daniel Giménez Cacho, Carmen Beato, Zóltán Józan, Mariona Castillo, Aram González, Eva Fortea, Jesús Ramos, Pepa Charro, Xhévdet Bajraj, Margarita Ferran, Ángeles Ruiz
Contact: Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales, Oberon Cinematografica, S.A., Altavista Films, Grupo Pi.

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