Directed by Niles Atallah

Once upon a time, a man travelled to the end of the world. There, at the tip of recently independent South America, he founded his kingdom. It was 1860 and this French adventurer, Orélie-Antoine de Tounens, was perhaps a little crazy. Armed with a constitution penned by himself and a new flag, he fought his way through the rugged wilderness on horseback. After arriving he managed to unite the natives and was chosen to become their ruler. At least, that’s one version of this true story. Or, he was helped by a native traitor. He was a French spy! He succeeded, but was captured. Banished. Died. But returned? Who remembers the what and where of it? In Rey, the problems of history and memory are emphasised by the degradation of image and sound.

Director Niles Atallah shot some segments in 2011, then buried the 35mm, 16mm and Super-8 film in his back garden. What does time do to a story? The results of these burials recur throughout the film – as deteriorating memories and the king’s wild visions.

With the support of the Hubert Bals Fund, Atallah also experimented with puppets, masks and stop-motion animation. Everything culminated in this astonishing, delicate work of art: an ode to film and a fascinating fairytale.

We review Rey in our January Film Podcast. Skip to 0.35 mark to hear what we think!

★★★★ “Evocative and surreal, Niles Atallah’s Rey (King) is a poetic, conceptual interpretation of an obscure but true story.” – The Upcoming

“Rey is a weird and sometimes wonderful film, featuring moments of piercing, memorable strangeness.” – The Guardian

“The little-known story of a French adventurer claiming to be king of Patagonia is told via a bold combination of formats brought together in this enjoyable avant-garde feature.” – Variety

“In a year without a film (or a book, or a graphic novel) by Alejandro Jodorowsky, a Jodorowsky band-aid can be found, and in 2017 it is Rey by Niles Atallah. The film bears the equal measure of mystification as Jodorowsky´s efforts, bound by magic/paranoid realism. Atallah has a penchant for cinema fetishism, leaving the film stock to deteriorate physically and then applying a variety of filters to forge a celluloid hallucination.” – ScreenAnarchy

Rey is a HOME Artist film – Download the quad poster here

For bookings and enquiries, please contact the HOME Artist Film team at

List of venues that will be screening Rey from Fri 5 Jan 2018 can be found below:

HOME, Manchester
ICA, London
Curzon Bloomsbury, London
Watershed, Bristol
Tyneside, Newcastle
FACT, Liverpool
Filmhouse, Edinburgh
Glasgow Film Theatre, Glasgow
Phoenix Arts, Leicester
Showroom, Sheffield
Hyde Park Picturehouse, Leeds
QFT, Belfast
Broadway, Nottingham
Art House, Crouch End
Chapter, Cardiff

91 minutes


Full English

Country of origin:
Chile and France

Year of production: