Twenty-five years on from the shocking murder of Noticias photojournalist José Luis Cabezas, streaming giant Netflix has announced the release of a new documentary film exploring the circumstances surrounding his death.
El Fotógrafo y el Cartero: el crimen de Cabezas (titled in English: The Photographer: Murder in Pinamar) will arrive on the streaming giant’s platform on May 19, following its world premiere at the BAFICI (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente) film festival on April 21.
The documentary is a Haddock Films production by executive producer Vanessa Ragone and director Alejandro Hartmann, the team behind the 2020 documentary series Carmel: ¿quién mató a María Marta? (Carmel: Who Killed Maria Marta?), which explored the still-unsolved 2002 death of María Marta García Belsunce in Pilar.
The team’s latest film reconstructs Cabezas’ murder, which occurred on February 25, 1997, through extensive investigative work. According to the producers, it presents carefully archived material and multiple case testimonies while, furthermore, unveiling in detail an unsuspected mafia network.
“In the summer of 1997, the murder of photojournalist José Luis Cabezas shocked Argentina. It ultimately revealed an organised crime network which appeared to involve the country’s political and financial elite. The consequences would be almost as dramatic as the crime itself, not only for the perpetrator but for the whole country,” said Netflix in a press statement.
Gabriel Michi, Mariano Cazeaux, Alejandro Vecchi, Eduardo Duhalde, Oscar Andreani, Raúl Aragón, Osvaldo Baratucci, Cora Gamarnik, Miguel Gaya, Jorge Gómez Pombo, Gustavo González, Manuel Lazo, Eduardo Longoni, Lorena Maciel, Julio Menajovsky, Ricardo Ragendorfer, Hugo Ropero and Edgardo Zunino are among those interviewed for the film, which attempts to clarify one of the most chilling and impactful murders in recent Argentine history.
The photographer's death
Cabezas worked at Noticias magazine, part of Editorial Perfil SA, from 1989 until his death. During his career, he photographed Argentina’s leading political, cultural and other personalities, often capturing their essence in creative, playful and unique ways.
In the summer of 1996 on the beaches of Pinamar, he managed to photograph businessman Alfredo Yabrán walking along the beaches of Pinamar with his wife.
Yabrán did not allow the press to capture images of him but following his alleged involvement in political corruption cases, his profile had risen. The businessman had also been accused by Argentina’s then-economy minister, Domingo Cavallo, of being at “head of a mafia entrenched in power” that enjoyed political and judicial protection.
The photo taken by Cabezas was published on the cover of Noticias on March 3, 1996, unveiling Yabrán’s face to the wider world and allowing him to be recognised.
The following year, the photojournalist returned to the seaside city to cover the summer season. Cabezas was intercepted at gunpoint, beaten up and brutally murdered.
His charred body was found, with his hands cuffed behind his back and two shots in the head, inside a Ford Fiesta in the Los Manantiales area, near General Madariaga, about 15 kilometres from the centre of Pinamar.