back to FILMS


A film by Günter Schwaiger | 2009 | 105 min | HD | Color | stereo | 16/9 | Austria, Spain


Following the difficult struggle of some young apprentices brings the spectator into contact with all the facets of the bullfighting world. Travelling with them through Spain, France, Portugal and Colombia, we meet pupils and maestros from the bullfighting schools, banderilleros , bullfighting manager, impresarios and indeed the great figures like Luis Bolívar, Uceda Leal, Sebastién Castella, Morante de la Puebla or José Tomás.

Thus ARENA enables us to discover in depth the complexity of this singular Western cultural phenomenon.


Production, Direction, Cinematography: Günter Schwaiger
Editing: Pablo Plant, Günter Schwaiger
Sound: Miguel Rejas
Music: Werner Raditschnig, Uli Fussenegger
Production Manager Cristina G. Alía
Produced by Mosolov-P y Günter Schwaiger Filmproduktion

With: Juan Guerrero, Juan (Johann), Duque, Daniel Menés “El Dani”, Iluminado Menés, Mariano Aumente “El Campero”, Jesus Mejías “El Gallo”
y alumnos y Maestros de la Escuela de Toreo de Madrid

Also appearing, the Star bullfighters: Luis Bolivar, Uceda Leal, Sebastian Castella, Morante de la Puebla y José Tomás


  • Viennale International Film Festival (2009, Austria)
  • Biarritz Film Festival Fipatel (2010, France)
  • Saarbrücken IFF, Max Ophüls Prize Fimfestival (2010, Germany)
  • Berlinal EFM (2010, Germany)
  • SEE – Brighton Int. Documentary Film Festival (2010, GBR)
  • Soleluna – Int. Docfilm Festival (2010, Italy)
  • Palermo Film Festival (2010, Italy)
  • SIEFF – Int. Ethnographic Festival Sardinia (2010, Italy)
  • Toros D’OC – Int. Taurine Film Festival Beziers (2010, France)
  • Seville European Film Festival (2010, España)
  • Cyprus International Film Festival (2011, Cyprus)

Director’s Statement

About the Film

Making a film about bullfighting is as unpredictable as a bullfight. You must listen a great deal and observe unceasingly, and even then things remain which have to be told.

I think of the structure of ARENA as a sort of mosaic whose pieces took shape on a long path past the different landscapes, faces and facets of the bullfighting world. The film does not seek to provide a didactic introduction to its rules and codes, but rather a sensitive approach to the complexity of this phenomenon, whose roots are as old as those of civilisation itself.

The characters appearing crossed my path and I incorporated them into the tale with the feeling that the film itself had invited them. Starting from a script resulting from a long investigation, I let myself be carried along by my own curiosity, my astonishment and my fascination, and this tale grew into its current form.

Nowadays, political correctness often leads to dogmatic, intolerant postures. The majority feels that its own sins are redeemed by censuring the conduct of a few. That happens with bullfighting. It is very easy to attack it, because it shows its hand as it plays and does not hide what society usually conceals. Bullfighting is however anything but a glorification of suffering. Roland Barthes explained what is celebrated at a bullfight: “Not man’s victory over the animal, but victory over ignorance, fear and necessity.”

Günter Schwaiger