Tesis – Amenabar’s first long film
Being only 22 years old, Amenabar made his official debut as director in Spanish cinema with a brilliant and entertaining psychological thriller, called “Tesis” (Thesis, 1996). The film, that explores the power of image in contemporary societies, is about a student of Art&Cinema (named Ángela and played by Ana Torrent), writing her thesis about violence in films. Her professor wanting to help her find a movie that fulfils her request of “images as violent as possible”, unexpectedly dies while watching the movie he discovers in University’s film library. Ángela steals the mysterious tape and together with Chema (Fele Martínez), a classmate obsessed with horror and violent movies, discover that this snuff film presents the torture and death of one of their classmates that disappeared two years ago. How is this tape connected with Ángela’s new professor, Castro (Xabier Elorriaga) who insists on “giving the audience what it wants to see”, a suspicious but handsome classmate that attracts Ángela (Bosco, played by Eduardo Norriega) and even Chema? And how is Ángela going to be involved in this deadly game?
The film not only was a box-office success, but also gave Amenabar numerous prestigious international awards including the Audience Award at the Annecy Festival and seven awards in Goya Festival (1996, including Best Picture, Best New Director and Best Original Screenplay), an absolute triumf. Amenabar wanted to address the issue of violence in cinema and television, dirrecting a movie that is not obviously violent, but that it does provoke terror that is “psychological, suggested through music and sound effects, but not seen”(as Amenabar said when asked about the purpose of the film).
Snuff film; a genre of movies depicting the actual murder of a person(s), without the aid of special effects
*Amenabar does not have a role in this movie, yet you can notice his name on a computer screen when Angela is searching for the possible buyers of the camera
*Castro, the name of the bad professor, is the actual name of the professor that made Amenabar stop his University studies