A collection of reviews of films from off the beaten path; a travel guide for those who love the cinematic world and want more than the mainstream releases.
Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Announcing the 3rd Edition of Neighboring Scenes, February 28 - March 4 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center
The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Cinema Tropical Celebrate the Reemergence of Latin American Filmmaking
in the Past Two Decades With the
3rd Annual Neighboring Scenes Series
Featuring Ten U.S. Premieres, Eight Filmmakers in Attendance, and a 20th Anniversary Tribute to the
New Argentine Cinema Milestone
PIZZA, BEER, AND CIGARRETTES
February 28 – March 4
The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Cinema Tropical announce the third annual edition of Neighboring Scenes, a 17-film showcase of recent Latin American cinema, celebrating two decades of an impressive cinematic reemergence in the region, and featuring productions from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, and Mexico in their U.S. or New York premiere.
Programmed by Carlos A. Gutiérrez, Executive Director of Cinema Tropical, and Cecilia Barrionuevo, Programmer of the Mar del Plata Film Festival, this year’s series includes the international premiere of a new restoration of Pizza, Beer, and Cigarettes (1998), celebrating its 20th anniversary. Bruno Stagnaro and Adrián Caetano’s landmark film, which follows a pair of less than talented thieves, launched the New Argentine Cinema movement that has continued inspiring Latin American filmmakers for generations.
Highlighting impressive recent productions from across the region, this selective slate of premieres exhibits the breadth of styles, techniques, and approaches employed by Latin American filmmakers today. Neighboring Scenes spans a wide geographic range, featuring established auteurs as well as fresh talent from the international festival scene. “This year’s selection playfully breaks away from traditional notions of national cinema, as many of the featured filmmakers are working in places other than their countries of origin,” says co-programmer Barrionuevo.
Opening night offers the U.S. premiere of Anahí Berneri’s award-winning Alanis, an unflinching portrait of a young mother eking out a living as a prostitute in Buenos Aires. Unfolding over the course of three days, Berneri’s “quietly radical” (Variety) fifth film explores the challenges of urban life as an immigrant woman, and is anchored by Sofía Gala’s fearless performance.
Other highlights in this year’s lineup include such festival favorites as Niles Atallah’s formally daring Rey, which won the Special Jury Prize at Rotterdam; Santiago Mitre’s political thriller The Summit, an Un Certain Regard selection from Cannes, featuring an impressive international cast; and Fellipe Barbosa’s around-the-world travelogue Gabriel and the Mountain, a two-time prizewinner at Cannes Critics’ Week.
The festival also features documentaries about Mexican fishermen (Ruins, Your Realm), showgirls of the ’70s and ’80s (Beauties of the Night), and the colonialist history of Easter Island (Solitary Land); adaptations of Dostoevsky (António, One, Two, Three) and Hans Christian Andersen (The Little Match Girl); and a number of debut features including visual artist Adrián Villar Rojas’s The Theater of Disappearance, a cinematic reimagining of his acclaimed Metropolitan Museum of Art rooftop installation.
Organized by Dennis Lim, Carlos A. Gutiérrez and Cecilia Barrionuevo. Neighboring Scenes is made possible with the support of the Consulate General of Brazil in New York, the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York, and the Consulate General of Argentina in New York.
Special thanks to Emanuel Lobo de Andrade and Beatriz Canepa D'Alessandro, Consulate General of Brazil in New York; Caterina Toscano and Fernanda de la Torre, Mexican Cultural Institute of New York; Eduardo Almirantearena, Consulate General of Argentina in New York; Marcelo Alderete; John Campos Gomez; Pablo Conde; Erick Gonzalez; Meghan Monsour; Matías Piñeiro.
FILMS All films screen digitally at the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.) unless otherwise noted.
(Anahí Berneri, Argentina, 2017, 82 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. U.S. Premiere)
Winner of the Best Director and Best Actress awards at the San Sebastian Film Festival, the fifth feature by Argentine filmmaker Anahí Berneri is a poignant and compelling drama that portrays three days in the life of a young Buenos Aires mother and sex worker struggling to survive. Featuring a potent performance by Sofía Gala Castiglione in the title role (alongside her real-life son Dante), the film offers an unsentimental and non-moralizing take on a self-determined woman trying to live her unapologetic life while facing contradictory prostitution laws that are intended to protect her but often do the opposite. Wednesday, February 28, 7pm (Q&A with Anahí Berneri)
António, One, Two, Three
(António um dois três, Leonardo Mouramateus, Portugal/Brazil, 2017, 95 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles. U.S. Premiere)
Reminiscent of the films of Hong Sang-soo and Matías Piñeiro, Mouramateus’s debut offers a simple yet scrambled tale of love, longing, and the theater. After angering his father, António seeks refuge in his ex-girlfriend Mariana’s Lisbon apartment, where he meets Débora, a Brazilian woman on her way to Russia. Inevitably, he ends up romantically involved in different ways with each of them. Meanwhile, António’s autobiographical play—which borrows from Dostoevsky's White Nights—complicates our understanding of his motivations and our own relationship to the film (which is also based on White Nights). As the film goes on, repetitions of scenes (with slight alterations) further speak to the ambivalence of young love. Wednesday, February 28, 9:15pm Beauties of the Night
(Bellas de noche, María José Cuevas, Mexico, 2016, 91 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. New York Premiere)
María José Cuevas’s engrossing and captivating debut feature, winner of the Best Documentary award at the Morelia Film Festival, is a moving portrait of five of Mexico’s most popular and iconic showgirls of the late 1970s and ’80s, almost 40 years after they ruled Mexico’s entertainment world. Eight years in the making, with a keen eye and devoid of any sensationalism, the documentary enters the fascinating world of these women, who have struggled to reinvent themselves after the decline of the burlesque heyday. Friday, March 2, 7pm (Q&A with María José Cuevas)
Fuera de campo
(Marcelo Guzmán and Mauricio Durán, Bolivia, 2017, 60 min. In Spanish, Aymara with English subtitles. U.S. Premiere)
On November 2, 1972, 67 Bolivian political prisoners executed a daring escape from a makeshift jail in the middle of Lake Titicaca during a soccer game; the prisoners then sought asylum in Peru. Their stand against the brutality of Hugo Banzer’s dictatorship was a watershed moment, but interviews with locals who were forced to assist the dissidents reveal the cruel and complicated legacy of this “heroic” tale. The directors of this film admit their inability (personal and creative) to fully deal with history and memory, relying on a series of narrative devices, sometimes controversial, but always cinematic, to tell the story.
Screening with Las nubes (Juan Pablo González, 2018, Mexico/USA, 20 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. New York premiere).
Affected by violence and broken family relationships, a man goes on a journey through memory and time. Saturday, March 3, 1:30pm Gabriel and the Mountain / Gabriel e a Montanha
(Fellipe Barbosa, Brazil/France, 2017, 131 min. In Portuguese, English, and French with English subtitles. New York Premiere)
Winner of two prizes at Cannes’ Critics’ Week in 2017, Fellipe Barbosa’s follow-up to his acclaimed debut, Casa Grande, follows Gabriel Buchmann (Joao Pedro Zappa) as he travels the world for one year before entering a prestigious American university. After ten months on the road, he arrives in Kenya determined to discover the African continent. Everything changes, however, when he reaches the top of Mount Mulanje, Malawi. The film is based on the true story of Barbosa’s friend from school. Saturday, March 3, 6pm (Q&A with Fellipe Barbosa)
Lightning Falls Behind / Atrás hay relámpagos
(Julio Hernández Cordón, Costa Rica/Mexico, 2017, 82 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. New York Premiere)
The sixth film by Mexican-Guatemalan filmmaker Julio Hernández Cordón (I Promise You Anarchy, ND/NF 2016), and his first shot in Costa Rica, is a rakish slacker movie that follows rebellious girls Sole (Adriana Alvarez) and Ana (Natalia Arias). While biking around San José, and planning to create a vintage cab company, they find something inside the trunk of a car that they’d rather forget. Lightning Falls Behind, featuring playful and fluid camerawork, is a prime example of the kind of recent Central American cinema that has delighted viewers on the international film circuit. Sunday, March 4, 4pm (Q&A with actress/producer Adriana Alvarez)
The Little Match Girl
(La vendedora de fósforos, Alejo Moguillansky, Argentina, 2017, 71 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. U.S. Premiere)
Moguillansky’s follow-up to The Gold Beetle is a fantasia that elegantly weaves together disparate elements: Hans Christian Andersen's tale of the title, Bresson’s saintly abused donkey Balthazar, a Red Army Faction member’s correspondence with an Argentine pianist, and a composer trying to mount an opera at the Teatro Colón. Winner of Best Argentine Film at last year’s BAFICI, The Little Match Girl is infused with emotion, and never devolves into the obscure or didactic, despite its many literary and cinematic references. Featuring exquisite cinematography from Inés Duacastella, this spectacular work is not to be missed. Friday, March 2, 9:15pm (Q&A with Alejo Moguillansky)
(Chris Gude, Colombia, 2017, 64 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. U.S. Premiere)
In this experimental road movie, director Chris Gude (Mambo Cool) follows two smugglers attempting to cross into Colombia from Venezuela. As the men drive across the sun-soaked terrain of the Guajira Peninsula, occasionally stopping off to wander or play pool in the lonely ruins of abandoned buildings, their journey comes to symbolize a search for an idealized land. Gesturing toward Colombia’s colonial legacy (such as when the pair listen to a Hugo Chávez radio broadcast about Simón Bolívar), this beautifully photographed film gives the viewer ample room to ponder questions of space and identity.
Screening with The Mouth (La Bouche, Camilo Restrepo, France, 2017, 19 min. In Susu with English subtitles. U.S. Premiere)
Following his 2016 film Cilaos, Colombian director Camilo Restrepo again experiments with the musical genre in a film that uses radical aesthetics as a means of standing up to social injustice. Saturday, March 3, 3:30pm (Q&A with Chris Gude)
(Rey, Niles Atallah, France/Chile/The Netherlands/Germany/Italy/Qatar, 2017, 90 min. In Spanish and Mapuche with English subtitles. U.S. Premiere)
Recipient of the Special Jury Prize at Rotterdam, Rey tells the curious story of Orélie-Antoine de Tounens, a French lawyer who attempted to create an independent state for the indigenous peoples of Araucanía (part of present-day Chile) and Patagonia (Argentina) in 1860 and claimed he was its king. Honoring the ambiguous nature of Tounens’s life—it’s unclear if he was a spy, a huckster, an above-average colonial exploiter, or actually summoned by a Mapuche deity—Rey uses a variety of formal techniques and visual styles, including papier-mâché masks, battered 16mm stock, and educational film aesthetics. Saturday, March 3, 9pm (Q&A with Niles Atallah)
Ruins, Your Realm
(Ruinas tu reino, Pablo Escoto, Mexico, 2016, 64 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. U.S. Premiere)
This lyrical and immersive documentary, reminiscent of films by Peter Hutton and Kazuhiro Soda, follows the rhythms of Mexican fishermen in extreme, minute detail. Fish are glimpsed underneath the water and gasping on the deck of a ship; men hoist their nets and sails. Interspersed with these quotidian images are snippets of text and poetry, juxtaposed against a black background.
Screening with Amundsen’s Dogs (Los perros de Amundsen, Rafael Ramírez, Cuba 2017, 27 min. In Spanish and English with English subtitles)
Rafael Ramírez connects the avant-garde and the political in this intertwining of fiction and documentary that tells the story of an industrial accidents inspector. Sunday, March 4, 6:30pm Solitary Land
(Tierra sola, Tiziana Panizza, Chile, 2017, 107 min. In Spanish, Rapa Nui, and English with English subtitles. U.S. Premiere)
Easter Island (Rapa Nui) has long been a grand mystery of archeology—how did such a large civilization fall, and does it foreshadow our own ruin? For the indigenous people who currently live there, the island’s past carries a very different legacy: one of colonial abuse and inescapable remoteness. Panizza’s film shows the legacy of this exploitation, as well as the daily rhythms of the small prison on the island, in a film constructed from pieces of 32 documentaries (many of which include similar voiceovers and framing, despite being shot by crews from different countries) and original present-day footage. Winner of Best Chilean Film at the Valdivia Film Festival. Thursday, March 1, 9pm The Summit
(La cordillera, Santiago Mitre, Argentina/France/Spain, 2017, 114 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. New York premiere)
Santiago Mitre (The Student) continues his ongoing cinematic investigation into politics with his third feature, set at a summit of Latin American presidents in Chile. Here, the Argentine president—played by acclaimed actor Ricardo Darín—endures a political and familial drama that will force him to face his own demons. This high-profile thriller, an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard section, boasts an impressive international cast including Dolores Fonzi, Erica Rivas (Wild Tales), Elena Anaya (The Skin I Live In), Paulina García (Gloria), Daniel Giménez Cacho (Zama), Alfredo Castro (The Club), and Christian Slater. Thursday, March 1, 6:30pm (Q&A with Santiago Mitre)
The Theater of Disappearance
(El teatro de la desaparición, Adrián Villar Rojas, Argentina/South Korea, 2017, 120 min. U.S. Premiere)
Sharing the same title as his 2017 installation from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s rooftop, acclaimed Argentine visual artist Adrián Villar Rojas's The Theater of Disappearance is a hypnotic triptych portraying the current state of latent war on different continents. Using disparate styles and sensual, sometimes randomly connected imagery, Villar Rojas searches for beauty through a wordless portrait of a Moroccan pottery workshop, an almost surreal study of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, and a camera tour of different locations around the world. Sunday, March 4, 8:30pm 20th Anniversary Screening—New restoration!
Pizza, Beer, and Cigarettes
(Pizza, birra, faso, Bruno Stagnaro & Adrián Caetano, Argentina, 1998, 80 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. Restoration International Premiere)
Bruno Stagnaro and Adrián Caetano’s milestone debut feature heralded the deeply influential New Argentine Cinema, fostered the careers of a vast generation of international filmmakers, and fueled the Latin American cinema renaissance of the past two decades. Rarely seen in the United States, Pizza, Beer, and Cigarettes is set in the Buenos Aires criminal underworld, and follows two impoverished teens who graduate from petty theft to armed robbery, though they’re incompetent at both. This restoration, by the Action Program to rescue the Argentine cinema, a joint initiative between CINAIN (Cinematheque and National Image Archive of Argentina) and the DAC (Argentine Cinematographic Directors), was carried out in 4K from the original negative in the framework of the Plan Recuperar DAC / Gótika, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, under the supervision of Bruno Stagnaro, Adrián Caetano and cinematographer Marcelo Lavintman. Sunday, March 4, 2pm
Photo credit: Alanis by Anahí Berneri, Uncork'd Entertainment.