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Natalia Smirnoff, Lock Charmer

Jeremy Kay talks to the Argentinian director about her Sundance World Cinema Dramatic entry.

Argentinian director Natalia Smirnoff got the idea for World Cinema Dramatic entry Lock Charmer (El Cerrajero) after she locked herself out of her house.

“[The door] was completely locked with a second lock I hadn’t locked the night before,” says Smirnoff, who fell into a kind of reverie as she sat for three hours one Sunday afternoon while the locksmith worked his magic.

Indeed there is magic in Lock Charmer. The locksmith of the film, averse to commitment and mortified to learn his girlfriend is pregnant, begins to see into people’s lives when he fixes their locks.

“Some would call it a gift,” says Smirnoff, “but for Sebastián it feels more like a curse. With the help of Daisy, an unlikely assistant who very much wants to believe in his gift, Sebastián reluctantly sets out to use his talent for his own good.”

Lock Charmer received funding from Argentina’s national film board INCAA and there was a minimum guarantee from Memento Films.

Smirnoff studied film at Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires and has worked as AD and casting director for Lucrecia Martel and Pablo Trapero, among others. This is her second feature after Berlin 2010 entry The Puzzle.

Smirnoff acquired her taste for storytelling during childhood summers in Uruguay, when her grandmother would read aloud Agatha Christie books at night and lead the family on adventures.

These moments of pure imagination were so beautiful. Making films revives these memories. Also, with my films, I try to understand something deeper and new about human relationships.”

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