The Substitute


Out on:Theatrical 20th Jan. 2023

“Compelling and steely-minded… a fine central performance from Juan Minujín” SCREEN INTERNATIONAL
“A pressure cooker of a film” CLARIN
“Vibrant and honest… full of tension and humanity” CINEUROPA

Sovereign is proud to announce the award-winning drama THE SUBSTITUTE will be released in UK cinemas 20th January 2023.

THE SUBSTITUTE (El Suplente), which won the Silver Seashell for Best Supporting Performance (by Renata Lerman) at the 70th San Sebastian International Film Festival, is a gripping drama that portrays, according to Argentinian director Diego Lerman, “the survival and the struggle of adolescents to enter a society that is extremely hostile to those who lack support and basic life conditions the most”.

With elements of high school dramas Blackboard Jungle, The Class and Dangerous Minds, THE SUBSTITUTE is directed with sensitivity and skill by Lerman, who brings a fresh eye to the story of an idealist teacher getting to grips with tough inner city pupils, played by a teenage cast who, as Jonathan Romney in Screen International says, “contribute spiky, totally convincing energy”.

One of Argentina’s leading filmmakers, Diego Lerman won the Silver Leopard Award at the Locarno International Film Festival for Suddenly (Tan de repente) in 2002. He also directed A Sort of Family which played at Toronto, won Best Screenplay at San Sebastian and was acquired by Netflix; as well as Refugiado and Invisible which played at Cannes’ Director’s fortnight in 2014 and 2010, respectively. The Substitute, which had its world premiere at the 47th Toronto International Film Festival in the Special Presentations section, is his sixth feature.

Recently appointed substitute literature teacher Lucio (Juan Minujín) needs to work hard to find a way to connect with the minds - and the realities - of students at a tough Buenos Aires high school. He also has big shoes to fill: those of his ailing father, known as “El Chileno” (Alfredo Castro), a well-loved community organiser who is about to open a soup kitchen, years in the making, but is constantly being threatened by a local gang as they seek total control of the area through drugs and corrupt politics. When one of his students lands in trouble with the local kingpin, Lucio has to step out from his teaching duties to protect both the teenager and the fragile bond he’s forging with his pupils.



The Substitute had its world premiere at the 47th Toronto International Film Festival in the Special Presentations section, and won the Silver Seashell for Best Supporting Performance (by Renata Lerman) at the 70th San Sebastian International Film Festival, where it was also nominated for a Golden Seashell for Best Film. It was also nominated for a Gold Hugo for Best Feature at the Chicago International Film Festival.


SOVEREIGN releases auteur-driven feature films in the UK, from emerging and established international talent. Our carefully curated titles have played to strong critical and audience acclaim, often premiering at renowned international film festivals, including Cannes, Berlinale, Toronto, Venice and many more.

Previously acquired titles include Peru’s entry into the Oscars ‘SONG WITHOUT A NAME’, which screened in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival; Philippine crime drama ‘VERDICT’, which received the Special Orizzonti Jury Prize at the 76th Venice Film Festival; historical drama ‘MALMKROG’, which won Best Director in the Encounter section and opened the 70th Berlin Film Festival; Argentinian psychological thriller ‘A COMMON CRIME’, which received its world premiere at the 70th Berlin Film Festival; ‘BAD LUCK BANGING OR LOONY PORN’, which won the Golden Bear at the 2021 Berlin International Film Festival; and controversial Russian director Kirill Serebrennikov’s ‘PETROV’S FLU’, winner of the prestigious CTS Artist award at last year’s Cannes Film festival, and also nominated for the Palme d’Or; ‘MEMORIA’, from Palme d’Or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul, starring Tilda Swinton, which won the Cannes Jury Prize in 2021; Bolivian director Kiro Russo’s ‘THE GREAT MOVEMENT’, winner of the Special Jury Prize in the Horizons strand at the 2021 Venice Film Festival; Damien Odoul’s cinematic odyssey ‘THEO AND THE METAMORPHOSIS’, Winner of the Grand Prix at the New Horizons Film Festival in Poland; and most recently, Ulrich Seidl’s ‘RIMINI’, winner of the Grand Prix for Best Feature Film at the Diagonale Film Festival.

Sovereign is a UK-based entertainment company committed to telling important and relevant stories across film, theatre, music and the arts. Sovereign’s productions include Palme d’Or winner ‘TRIANGLE OF SADNESS’, starring Woody Harelson, from acclaimed director Ruben Ostlund (winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or for ‘The Square’) which received its UK premiere at this year’s BFI London Film Festival, ‘THE TREE OF LIFE’ (3 Oscar nominations), starring Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain and Brad Pitt; ‘EFFIE GRAY’, starring Dakota Fanning, Emma Thompson and Julie Walters; and ‘VOYAGE OF TIME’ with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Upcoming productions include ‘EUREKA’ with Viggo Mortensen and ‘INSIDE’ starring Willem Dafoe.



In Cinemas
20th January, 2023
Release date
20th January, 2023


Diego Lerman