PRISIONEROS DE LA TIERRA is considered one of the greatest films ever made in Argentina. Director Mario Soffici adapted four different short stories by Horacio Quiroga, the Uruguayan playwright, poet, and author, to craft a powerful and emotional film that examines issues of social justice through its myriad of characters, all human and all flawed. Set in the yerba mate plantations of northern Argentina, the film shows the harsh working conditions of the Guaraní Indians against the beautiful natural landscapes, which highlights the ongoing conflict between the upper and lower classes. Soffici effortlessly balances his social justice narrative with more melodramatic elements of love, betrayal, and alcoholism, all filmed in dramatic black-and-white, to create a rich and honest portrait of life's many struggles. In addition to its cinematic achievements, the film is also an important record of the Guaraní dialect, which is now virtually lost.

PRISIONEROS DE LA TIERRA was restored using the best existing elements: a first generation 35mm positive print held at La Cinémathèque française and a recently rediscovered third generation 35mm positive print preserved by the Národní filmový archiv. For its overall completeness and photographic quality, the first generation 35mm positive print was used to restore the image, while the third generation 35mm positive print was the primary source for sound restoration.

A 16mm dupe negative, provided by the Museo del Cine, has also been studied and compared as a reference. Color grading was supervised by Paula Félix-Didier, director of the Museo del Cine Pablo Ducrós Hicken.

Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in association with the Museo del Cine Pablo Ducrós Hicken with elements provided by the Cinémathèque française and the Národní filmový archiv. Funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation.


Martin Scorsese Introduction


Paula Félix-Didier and Andrés Levinson in Conversation


Matías Piñeiro and Gina Telaroli in Conversation

PRISIONEROS DE LA TIERRA Before/After Restoration Demo




The Film Foundation on Letterboxd

Directed by Mario Soffici



Argentine Cinema with English subtitles (pre-1980)


"Prisioneros de la tierra: Tropical Oppression" by Matthew B. Karush for The Criterion Collection


Presented in The Film Foundation Restoration Screening Room in April 2023
in partnership with: 

Cineteca di Bologna, Museo del Cine Pablo Ducrós Hicken, The Criterion Collection, Janus Films, and Carlotta Films