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Césars Grill


Dario Aguirre

In order to rescue his father’s ramshackle grill restaurant, the film-maker is travelling back to his homeland Ecuador.






HD Drehformat / DCP




Germany, Switzerland




German, English


My father, César, always thought that I would eventually assume responsibility for running his grill restaurant in Ecuador, but at the age of twenty, I moved to Germany and became a vegetarian.Ten years later, when my father phoned me for the first time since I had settled in Germany, he told me that his restaurant was going bust, that he had debts with a number of loan sharks and at the bank, and that he hadn't paid any rent for over two years. I suddenly had the feeling that life in Ecuador, which until recently had seemed so distant, was tangibly close, and that saving this restaurant could be our first joint project.What began as an absurd debate about opening hours, Excel tables and wholesale market prices, evolved to become a touching family drama with much music and song.

I've always had an estranged relationship with my father. Nevertheless it seemed perfectly natural to me to help my father out of his difficult situation. But my motivation to make this into a film was that of exploiting this opportunity of tackling a project with him for the first time. I saw this as a chance to find points in common between us: what happens when I leave my world and immerse myself in his?

My return to a past life was a quest for both recognition and closeness. I sought reconciliation with my father and with a country that I had left many years ago.

When my mother became ill and died during the making of the film, we had to ask ourselves whether we should, or could, continue with this project. I believed that it would help both me and my father to overcome the entire situation – and my father was also willing to give it a try. Today, I'm glad that we continued working together on the project.

Dario Aguirre has been living in Germany for 10 years. He left his hometown of Ambato in Ecuador to study art in Hamburg. He left his father César's grill restaurant to become a vegetarian in Germany.

But just when he finally believes that he has left his past behind him, he receives the first phone call in a decade from his father, who tells him that his restaurant is about to go out of business and asks for his help. Dario sends money and Excel tables and debates with his father over the phone, but when his mother finally throws up her arms and decides to move in with her mother, who lives a six hours' drive away, he sees no alternative: he boards a plane to stand by his father's side.

When Dario arrives, he rapidly realizes that it won't be easy to put into practice his German-influenced notions of a structured and successful restaurant operation. But he doesn't just run into difficulties due to differing views and lifestyles, but also because of César, who is incapable of accepting his son as a consultant, and resorts to crafty, absurd and, in some cases, even reasonable arguments to avoid taking his advice. What's more, Dario increasingly realizes that the problem has less to do with the ailing family-owned business and more to do with the family itself – coming to terms with dashed expectations and feelings of guilt that are never talked about, and with the process of growing up and assuming responsibility for one another.

"My father and I are masters of non-communication."

Dario's mother has always acted as a liaison between the two. Now her son is asking for advice over the phone when he can no longer make any headway with the headstrong César. But this source of wisdom disappears when the mother is diagnosed with cancer and soon dies as a result of chemotherapy.

This leaves the two men entirely on their own and with the realization that there is no one left to bring a sense of balance to the family relationships. Faced with this situation and the need to come to terms with their grief, they ultimately manage to open up to each other in a dramatic encounter during a journey to the father's parental home. They return to the city and prepare a big celebration to mark the reopening of the renovated restaurant, complete with sausages and Oktoberfest pennants from Germany:

"My father's debts may have actually grown somewhat with my help, but at least my departure this time will be different than it was back then."

And that's exactly what happens.



Dario Aguirre


director of photography

Santiago Oviedo , Dario Aguirre


Daniel Almada


Andrés Galarza, Felipe Alvarez


Julia Drache

Picture Design


Thomas Tielsch

More Crew Members


Thomas Tielsch

2nd Camera

Darío Aguirre, Karsten Krause

Sound Mix

Guido Keller / Magnetix


Franziska Reck


No items found.

Rosita Pazmiño

Jessica Pazmiño

Gloria Maria Guevara

Gaby Pazmiño

Maybetty Abril

Manuela Torres

César Aguirre



Max Ophüls Preis






Visions du Reel

Schweizer Premiere





Special Mention

Max Ophüls Filmfest - Wettbewerb, Saarbrücken


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