Screened as part of NZIFF 2010

Cell 211 2009

Celda 211

Directed by Daniel Monzón

A rookie prison guard finds himself trapped on the wrong side of a riot in this powerhouse prison drama that cleaned up at the Spanish Academy Awards. “Satisfyingly intense and suitably incendiary.” — Variety

France / Spain In Spanish with English subtitles
114 minutes



Emma Lustres
Borja Pena
Juan Gordon
Álvaro Augustín


Jorge Guerricaechevarría
Daniel Monzón


Carles Gusi


Cristina Pastor

Production designer

Antón Laguna


Roque Baños


Luis Tosar (Malamadre)
Alberto Ammann (Juan Oliver)
Antonio Resines (Utrilla)
Marta Etura (Elena)
Carlos Bardem (Apache)
Manuel Morón (Almansa)
Luis Zahera (Releches)
Vicente Romero (Tachuela)
Fernando Soto (Armando Nieto)
Jesús Carroza (Elvis)
Manolo Solo (director of the prison)


Venice, Toronto 2009


Rookie prison officer Juan Olivier has the bad luck to start work on the same day that kingpin prisoner Malamadre (Luis Tosar) sets off a riot. It’s Juan’s good luck that Malamadre doesn’t know Juan’s a screw. Already we’re in spoiler territory, but this powerful, politically loaded prison thriller has plenty more surprises to pull. As tough and cunningly resourceful as its embattled antagonists, Cell 211 is the Spanish hit of the year, and winner of eight Goya Awards including Best Film, Director, Screenplay and Actor. — BG

“A jeopardy-laden buddy thriller as two uneasy allies’ agendas twist around each other like a DNA helix… There are critiques of prison conditions, corruption and image-based political manoeuvres, but mostly this is a tough, tense lion’s den drama with an anti-hero so absorbing that he takes a chunk of our sympathy away from Juan the role model… Ironically, it’s those who have committed some of the worst crimes – convicted ETA terrorists – who are the only guaranteed winners here. The authorities know that if anything happens to them, prison riots will erupt all over Spain; while for the ordinary prison rebels, they are useful bargaining tools. An edge of cynical realism (rooted in the gritty look of the thing) is a key part of Cell 211’s success.” — Lee Marshall, Screendaily

“Satisfyingly intense and suitably incendiary… The cast is superb, with the inmates effectively representing a contemporary gallery of grotesques. No place here for the politically correct view that these guys are society’s victims: they’re just plain nasty and all the more fun for it.” — Jonathan Holland, Variety

“Truly unmissable... it's a great piece of cinema which grabs you by the cojones right from the start and doesn't let up.” — Darren Bevan,