What Sebastian Dreamt

Institute History

  • 2004 Sundance Film Festival


The rain forest is a dreamy place, a lush, wild mystery with a life of its own. Rodrigo Rey Rosa has crafted a beautiful, mesmerizing film, based on his novel of the same name, that captures the danger and seduction of the jungle and the complex relationships humans have with the indifferent power of nature.

Sebastian is a wealthy young Spanish writer who has inherited land in the rain forest of Guatemala. When a murder occurs on his property, his investigation, and subsequent attempts to assert his authority as landowner, place him at odds with the local Cajal family, who have hunted on the land for generations. In implicating the Cajals in the murder, Sebastian sets off a chain of events that place him at the center of a mystery involving stolen Mayan artifacts, political turmoil, and revenge.

One of very few films produced in Guatemala (the first, Luis Argueta's The Silence of Neto, screened at Sundance in 1995), this layered, lyrical film juxtaposes an engrossing human story—the investigation of a crime—with larger questions about the endless, churning drama of animal instinct versus human consciousness, played out on a grand scale in the disappearing rain forests of Latin America.

— Elizabeth Richardson

Screening Details

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