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Based on Antonio di Benedetto's 1956 novel of the same title, writer-director Lucrecia Martel's drama unfolds in the late 18th century in a remote South American colony. Don Diego de Zama (Daniel Gimenez Cacho) is an administrator, appointed by the Spanish, to oversee this colony far from home. He is keen to move to a different position with more excitement so Don Diego waits patiently for a transfer to Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, he repeatedly falls foul of bureaucratic red tape and with each rejection, Don Diego becomes increasingly demoralised. The only bright spot is a smouldering attraction to Luciana Pinares de Luenga (Lola Duenas), daughter of a local treasurer. She toys with Don Diego's emotions, even though she has no intention of succumbing to his clumsy romantic overtures.