This Week with Cinema Tropical – ‘Neighboring Scenes: New Latin American Cinema’
One of Cinema Tropical‘s most extensive annual programs is fast approaching – ‘Neighboring Scenes: New Latin American Cinema’ opens this Friday, at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.
Now in its fourth year, Neighboring Scenes impressively highlights a scope of recent productions from across the region – presenting a selective slate of premieres that exhibit the breadth of styles, techniques, and approaches currently being employed by the most of promising contemporary Latin American filmmakers.
If you enjoy Cinema Tropical’s programming throughout the year, this is one series—in partnership with New York’s most preeminent film institution—that you absolutely do not want to miss. For full information, see the lineup below or visit the main site here.
In addition, Cinema Tropical is proud to co-present the Latin American films at ‘Doc Fortnight: MoMA’s Festival of International Nonfiction Film and Media,’ opening this Thursday. This year’s program features three spectacular nonfiction features from Latin America’s most innovative documentarians: Javier Olivera‘s La Extrana: Notas Sobre el (Auto) Exilio, Judith Vélez Aguirre‘s Volver a Ver, and Lola Arias’ Theatre of War, also nominated for this year’s Cinema Tropical Awards.
‘NEIGHBOR-ING SCENES: NEW LATIN AMERICAN CINEMA’
Friday, February 22 – Tuesday, February 26
Film Society of Lincoln Center
(Federico Veiroj, Uruguay/Spain/Mexico, 2018, 75 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
A clever and emotionally layered performance from Gonzalo Delgado is the heart of this fourth feature from Uruguayan auteur Federico Veiroj (The Apostate). With wry humor and an exquisite sense of place for Montevideo, Belmonte follows Javi (Delgado) at a crisis point in his life. He’s a successful painter in Uruguay’s capital city—presently exploring the tortured world of naked men while preparing an upcoming exhibition—but most of his time is spent working through strained relationships with his elderly parents, his pregnant ex-wife, and their 10-year-old daughter, Celeste (Olivia Molinaro Eijo). As in his second feature, A Useful Life, Veiroj demonstrates a deft ability to examine the art world with compelling ingenuity, this time through a genuinely funny and rich portrait of an artist pining for a luminous family life. Followed by Q&A with filmmaker Federico Veiroj.
Friday, February 22, 7pm
(Baixo Centro, Ewerton Belico and Samuel Marotta, Brazil, 2018, 80 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
A beguiling and enigmatic nocturnal experience, set in the peripheral and desolate spaces of the Brazilian city Belo Horizonte, Ewerton Belico and Samuel Marotta’s debut feature gradually wanders into the dreamlike territory of a trance film. Using afro-descendent poetics in its dialogue and soundtrack—a combination of electro-funk and contemporary versions of ancient chants—Outer Edgefollows its characters through a labyrinthine circuit of chance encounters to evoke a city haunted by its past. Belico and Marotta, along with director of photography Leonardo Feliciano (Araby), capture an atmosphere of madness and despair with an exquisite, clear-eyed sense of place.
Friday, February 22, 9:15pm
(Algo quema, Mauricio Alfredo Ovando, Bolivia, 2018, 77 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Alfredo Ovando Candia was a military general who served as Co-President of Bolivia from 1965–66 (and again from 1969–70) after overthrowing sitting President Víctor Paz Estenssoro. His political and military service connected him to the largest massacre of workers in the country’s history, as well as the military campaign in which Che Guevara was killed. Incorporating archival footage recorded during Ovando’s de facto government, home movies, and interviews with relatives, filmmaker Mauricio Alfredo Ovando’s debut feature studies the many profiles of his grandfather to juxtapose his family’s memories with the official history. Winner of the Best Director and FIPRESCI awards at the 2018 Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, Still Burn is a courageous, perceptive documentary about how collective and personal memories are created from—and ultimately shape—a complicated legacy.
Screening with PUNKY EYE(Ojo malcriado, Luis Arnías, Venezuela/USA, 2018, 15 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
In Luis Arnías’s Punky Eye, memories become poetic vignettes, sometimes irrational, sometimes precisely conceptual, always stimulating and cinematic.
Saturday, February 23, 2pm
BUY ME A GUN
(Cómprame un revólver, Julio Hernández Cordón, Mexico/Colombia, 2018, 84 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
The seventh film by Meso-American filmmaker Julio Hernández Cordón (I Promise You Anarchy) is a harrowing, blistering vision of 21st-century Mexico. In the near future, when women are endangered and the only order comes from the lawless and elusive cartel, a young girl named Huck (Matilde Hernández Guinea) must hide her gender in order to help her tormented drug addict father (Rogelio Sosa) manage an abandoned baseball field. Absurdist, macabre, and exhilarating, this highlight from the 2018 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight is like a cross between The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Mad Max, told through Hernández Cordón’s lo-fi futurist visual style. Followed by Q&A with filmmaker Julio Hernández Cordón.
Saturday, February 23, 4pm
NONA. IF THEY SOAK ME I’LL BURN THEM.
(Nona. Si me mojan, yo losquemo, Camila José Donoso, Chile/Brazil/France/Korea, 2019, 100 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
As with her previous features, Naomi Campbeland Casa Roshell, Chilean filmmaker Camila José Donoso’s richly detailed film fully immerses the viewer in its world, mixing digital, video, and 16mm to portray its beautifully ambivalent subject. At 66, Nona (Josefina Ramirez, José Donoso’s grandmother) lives alone and is recuperating from cataract surgery while a mysterious fire rages across southern Chile and generates unrest in her otherwise sleepy town. Capturing her routines and relationships while folding in past memories and a violent pathology with the present, Nona. If they soak me, I’ll burn them. is as much an allegory of contemporary Chile as it is a deeply personal character study. Followed by Q&A with filmmaker Camila José Donoso.
Screening with A LOCAL KIND OF GOD (Un dioslocal, Benjamín Naishtat, Argentina, 2018, 6 min. In English)
An experimental travelogue through India and its people, worshiping ancient gods and selfies.
Saturday, February 23, 6:30pm
THE WOLF HOUSE
(La casa lobo, Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña, Chile/Germany, 2018, 75 min. In Spanish and German with English subtitles)
Evoking Colonia Dignidad, an infamous torture colony operating during the Pinochet regime, The Wolf House is an animated film unlike any other, an exquisitely handcrafted surrealist docu-horror-fairy tale about one of Chile’s darkest periods. It begins with Mary, a young girl who hides in a mysterious house in southern Chile after escaping from a sect of German religious fanatics. Using stop-motion techniques and combining elements of various fables, photography, drawing, sculpture, and stage performance, Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León have created a nightmarish shapeshifter of a film. Followed by Q&A with filmmaker Cristóbal León.
Saturday, February 23, 9:15pm
(Óscar Catacora, Peru, 2017, 86 min. In Aymara with English subtitles)
In Óscar Catacora’s acclaimed debut feature—the first Peruvian movie shot entirely in the Aymara language—an elderly couple living in a remote part of the Andes faces the challenges of daily life with courage and determination. Like the protagonist couple in Ozu’s Tokyo Story, Willka and Phaxsi stoically carry the sadness of being forgotten by their long-absent son, and yearn for him to return home from the city. With magnificent cinematography, this landmark film delicately draws the emotional story of the filmmaker’s grandparents, who taught him Aymara when he was sent by his parents to live with them at age seven.
Screening with BEFORE MY EYES (Ante mis ojos, Lina Rodríguez, Colombia, 2018, 7 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Shot on Super 8mm, Before My Eyes is a calm and mysterious portrait of Lake Guatavita, which is considered the inspiration for the legend of El Dorado.
Sunday, February 24, 2pm
THERE WILL COME SOFT RAINS
(Vendrán lluvias suaves, Iván Fund, Argentina, 2018, 81 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
A remarkable ensemble of young nonprofessional actors leads Argentine director Iván Fund’s latest feature—an oneiric vision of the apocalypse in which a strange incident sends the adults of a working-class neighborhood into an everlasting slumber. Left to their own devices, the town’s children gradually adapt to a peculiar new world that remains largely undisturbed by mankind’s absence. Fund draws inspiration from Sara Teasdale’s 1918 poem of the same name, lucidly translating the imagery and themes of the original text into a lyrical film about the regenerative, blissful elements of nature in the aftermath of calamity. Followed by Q&A with filmmaker Iván Fund.
Screening with THE CEMETERY LIGHTENS (El cementerio se alumbra, Luis Alejandro Yero, Cuba, 2018, 14 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Nocturnal, seemingly random images of Havana conjure up a dark, feverish, and deceptively political work about present-day Cuba.
Sunday, February 24, 4pm
ENIGMA (Ignacio Juricic Merillán, Chile, 2018, 80 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Anchored by a potent ensemble cast led by the brilliant Roxana Campos, Ignacio Juricic Merillán’s assured and understated debut feature follows a 54-year-old neighborhood hairdresser who is asked to appear on an episode of TV show about unsolved mysteries dedicated to the violent death of her lesbian daughter in the streets of Santiago a decade earlier. As she decides whether or not to be participate, she confronts her family and their versions of the events that occurred years ago, learning more about who her daughter was.
Screening with SOBRE COSAS QUE ME HAN PASADO (José Luis Torres Leiva, Chile, 2018, 15 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Mundane, fleeting moments turn into film poetry as seen through the eyes of an exceptionally sensitive character (and filmmaker). Based on the book by Chilean writer Marcelo Matthey.
Sunday, February 24, 6:30pm
(Nuestro tiempo, Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France/ Germany/Denmark/ Sweden, 2018, 173 min. In Spanish and English with English subtitles)
Gorgeously shot by Diego García, the latest from Mexican director Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light, Post Tenebras Lux) is a bold and heartfelt exploration of marriage and intimacy. Starring the director and his wife, Natalia López, as Juan and Esther, the film portrays the life of a couple and their two children on a cattle ranch for fighting bulls. Esther is in charge of running the ranch, while Juan, a world-renowned poet, raises and selects the beasts. Yet when Esther becomes infatuated with an American horse trainer, Juan seems incapable of accepting his own limitations.
Sunday, February 24, 8:30pm
A WILD STREAM (Una corriente salvaje, Nuria Ibáñez, Mexico, 2018, 72 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Winner of the Best Mexican Feature Documentary at the Morelia Film Festival, the third feature by Spanish-born director Nuria Ibáñez (The Tightrope, The Naked Room) follows Chilo and Omar, who seem to be the only two men on earth. They live on a solitary beach in the desert-like landscape of Baja California and fish to survive. Selected by Film Comment as one of the best undistributed films of 2018, A Wild Stream is an engrossing portrait of the human condition, as well as an unusual and quirky bromance.
Screening with THE FORCES (Las fuerzas, Paola Buontempo, Argentina, 2018, 18 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
This brilliant short documentary provides glimpses into the world of horse-racing, following young men and women on track to becoming jockeys.
Introduction by Paola Buontempo.
Monday, February 25, 6:30pm
THE DEAD AND THE OTHERS
(Chuva é cantoria na aldeiados mortos, Renée Nader Messora and João Salaviza, Brazil/Portugal, 2018, 114 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
Winner of the Un Certain Regard special jury prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora’s hybrid follows Ihjãc (Henrique Ihjãc Krahô), a 15-year-old indigenous Krahô from the north of Brazil, who runs away from home after he is called to direct his deceased father’s spirit to the village of the dead. Denying his tribal duty as a prospective shaman, Ihjãc instead resides in the nearby town of Itacajá against the advice of his wife (Raene Kôtô Krahô) and community. Shot on 16mm by co-director Nader Messora, The Dead and the Others is a dramatically intriguing, richly textured portrait of grief and the threats facing ancient traditions by modern society.
Monday, February 25, 9pm
BIRDS OF PASSAGE
(Pájaros de verano, Cristina Gallegos and Ciro Guerra, Colombia/ Denmark/Mexico, 2019, 125 min. In Wayuu, Spanish and English with English subtitles)
Torn between his desire to become a powerful man and his duty to uphold his culture’s values, Rapayet (Acosta) enters the drug trafficking business in the 1970s to secure a dowry to marry Zaida (Reyes) and finds quick success despite the disapproval of his tribe’s matriarch, Ursula (Martínez). Ignoring ancient omens, Rapayet and his family get caught up in a conflict where honor is the highest currency and debts are paid with blood. Tracing the origins of the Colombian drug trade as it slowly corrupts an indigenous Wayúu family, and now one of the nine films on the shortlist for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, Birds of Passage is a sprawling epic about the erosion of tradition in pursuit of material wealth.
(Frank Perozo, Dominican Republic, 2018, 93 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Nicole and Jose Miguel come from very different León families. Hers is wealthy and well-to-do. His is more humble and less well-off. And it’s all been going just fine until Nicole’s father becomes intent on breaking them apart, going so far as recruiting Jose Miguel’s own father (whom he can’t stand) to bring in their kids’ exes to drum up a break-up. The sunny honey-colored cinematography, which showcases the colorful vistas of the DR, is the backdrop to this star-crossed lovers story that plays like a big-screen telenovela.
(Catherine Hardwicke, Mexico/USA, 2019, 104 min. In English)
Based on the Spanish-language film by the same name, Miss Bala tells the story of Gloria as she discovers a power she never knew she had when she is drawn into a dangerous world of cross-border crime. Surviving will require all of her cunning, inventiveness, and strength.
‘DOC FORTNIGHT 2019’
‘MOMA’S FESTIVAL OF INTERNATIONAL NONFICTION FILM AND MEDIA’
Thursday, February 21 – Thursday, February 28
The Museum of Modern Art
‘SHORTS PROGRAM: THE PRESENCE OF PLACE’
THE OFFERING (Guille Isa and Bill Silva, Peru, 2018, 7 min. In Quechua and Spanish with English subtitles)
A SINGULAR GARDEN(Monica Klemz, Brazil, 2017, 16 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
TAKEHARA (Jarot Mansilla, Peru, 2017, 10 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
HABLANDO CON DIOS(Glenda Leon, Cuba/Spain, 2018, 5min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Saturday, February 23, 4pm
THE STRANGER: NOTES OF [SELF] EXILE
(La extraña: Notas sobre el (auto) exilio, Javier Olivera, Argentina, 2018, 67 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Based on the writings of Atahualpa Yupanqui and Marcelo Viñar, this dreamlike documentary addresses what it means to belong to a place. Through philosophical motifs and abstract compositions, La Extraña confronts the potential dissociation with one’s own sense of being.
Saturday, February 23, 7pm
TO SEE AGAIN
(Volver a ver, Judith Vélez Aguirre, Peru, 2018, 83 min. In Spanish and Quechua with English subtitles)
Between 1982 and 2000, the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso) waged a guerilla war in Peru, becoming one of the most brutal terrorist groups of the 20th century. The conflict began in the Ayacucho region, where many Andean people were victimized and killed. Photographers Vera Lentz, Alejandro Balaguer, and Oscar Medrano managed to capture the horror and pain this war caused—and now, years later, they revisit the subjects and locales captured in their photos. Volver a ver tells a story that is not often told, about the tragedies that took place in Peru for nearly two decades, using the lens of art to reveal memories that question an official history that elides the indigenous contribution to the peace process.
Saturday, February 23, 7:30pm
THEATRE OF WAR
(Teatro de guerra, Lola Arias, Argentina/Spain, 2018, 82 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Since 1833, jurisdiction over the Falkland/Malvinas Islands has been the source of major controversy—so much so that in 1982, this ongoing debate resulted in war. Over the course of three months nearly 1,000 British and Argentine soldiers lost their lives in a war for sovereignty. Blurring the lines between reality and fiction, this unorthodox documentary focuses on the damaging effects the Falklands War had on six of its soldiers. Through the use of theatrical performance, reenactment, music, and storytelling, Theatre of Warrevisits a kind of universal turmoil.
Sunday, February 24, 7:30pm
‘PROGRAM-MERS’ NOTEBOOK: ON LOVE’
Through February 21
BAM Rose Cinemas
NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT
(Nostalgia para la luz, Patricio Guzmán, France/ Germany/Chile/Spain, 2010, 90 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Chilean documentarian Patricio Guzmán gazes with wonder at the night sky as he surveys the tragic legacy of the Pinochet regime in this rapturous vision of history and memory. In Chile’s Atacama Desert, astronomers scan the cosmos in search of remnants of the Big Bang—just as women search the sands for traces of their dead loved ones who disappeared during the years of the dictatorship, twin acts of devotion in which the filmmaker finds profound, unexpected resonances.
Monday, February 18, 9:30pm
(Asif Kapadia, UK/USA/France, 2010, 106 min. In English, Portuguese, French, and Japanese with English subtitles)
This thrillingly cinematic portrait of Formula One driver Ayrton Senna employs visceral, long-unseen archival footage to telegraph the all-consuming passion for racing that made him a legend and ultimately led to his tragic death. Examining the Brazilian icon from all angles—including his intellectual, spiritual, and political lives—Sennaforgoes anything resembling a staid talking-heads approach in favor of a hair-raising, adrenalized style that puts viewers in the driver’s seat.
Wednesday, February 20, 9:30pm
‘NYC WINTER FILM AWARDS’
Thursday, February 14 – Saturday, February 23
ALICE AFTER WONDERLAND
(Alicia después de las Maravillas, Andrea Guerrero, Mexico, 2018, 5min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Alice wakes up in the real world like a grown up woman. She finds out that magic doesn’t actually exist and rabbits stop being cute animals. Followed by a Q&A.
Monday, February 18, 5:30pm
(Nueve nudos, Lorena Colmenares, Venezuela, 2017, 11 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Nine knots, a prayer for each one, and then, nine wishes for the soul that no longer inhabits in the earth. María knew about the cult thanks to her mother and knew how to tie them thanks to her father. But now she and her brother José are alone. Followed by a Q&A.
Tuesday, February 19, 7:45pm
NO GOING BACK (Matias Vellutini, Brazil, 2018, 2min. In English)
No Going Back is a cinematic rescue mission of a black rooster from a Satanic cult in Brazil.
PACGIRL (Jaime Pena, Mexico, 2017, 12 min. In Spanish with English subtitles.)
Antonio, a single father, lives trapped by his unfulfilled dreams of becoming a rock star. His day to day life has turned into a soul-crushing routine at a job he hates. Antonio misses his band, his friends, and the love of his life who passed away giving birth to their daughter. On top of this, Antonio can’t control the unruly behavior of his daughter. Tired of the constant complaints, he decides to take her to a psychologist who diagnoses her with a severe Pac-man disorder, a strange and complicated disease that is turning her into a kinetic yellow Pac-man.
THE FLAPPING OF THE HUMMINGBIRD (El Aleteo del colibrí, Meritxell A. Valls, 2017, 14 mins. In Spanish with English subtitles.)
After a car accident, Fran has the opportunity to go back in time and choose his past once again. Followed by a Q&A.
Wednesday, February 20, 7:45pm
(Humberto Vallejo, Dominican Republic, 2017, 10min. In Spanish with English subtitles.)
Chanel doesn’t live in New York like she has led all her family to believe. A voice message puts in danger the double life she has built for her baby daughter and herself. Followed by a Q&A.
Thursday, February 21, 7:45pm
‘RACE, MUSIC, FILM + VR’
Saturday, February 23, 12pm
(Jeff Zimbalist and Matt Mochary, USA, 2006, 80 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
Favela Rising documents a man and a movement, a city divided and a favela (Brazilian squatter settlement) united. Haunted by the murders of his family and many of his friends, Anderson Sá is a former drug-trafficker who turns social revolutionary in Rio de Janeiro’s most feared slum. Through hip-hop music, the rhythms of the street, and Afro-Brazilian dance he rallies his community to counteract the violent oppression enforced by teenage drug armies and sustained by corrupt police. At the dawn of liberation, just as collective mobility is overcoming all odds and Anderson’s grassroots Afro Reggae movement is at the height of its success, a tragic accident threatens to silence the movement forever.
‘NEW YORK WILD FILM FESTIVAL’
Thursday, February 21 – Sunday, Thursday 24
The Explorers’ Club
(Alfredo Alcantará and Craig Waxman, USA, 2017, 25 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
A Chinese black market has nearly wiped out the Mexican vaquita porpoise, one of the world’s tiniest marine mammals. With less than twenty left in the wild, an all-out conservation battle has broken out in the Sea of Cortez. Will the vaquita outlast the forces of fish mafias and drug cartels? Followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.
Saturday, February 23, 1:30pm
CASTING IN JAGUEY GRANDE
(Thomas Winston, USA, 2017, 14 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Just a few clicks north of Bay of Pigs’ pristine mangrove flats – some of the best bonefish habitat in the world – lies Jaguey Grande, Cuba. A surprising scene plays out on a sweltering afternoon in the town’s dusty streets and alleys: Cuban kids with rods and reels attempt to master the art of the fly cast. Their mentor and father figure, Felipe, guides affluent anglers from around the globe to the regions coveted sport fisheries nearby.
Sunday, February 24, 11:30am
(Jean-Baptiste Chandelier, France, 2017, 6 min. N/D)
Take to the skies with Jean-Baptiste Chandelier as he brings us along for the ride on a breathtaking journey from the French Alps to the coast of South Africa, and from the Azores islands to the beaches of Brazil, in his latest video short, Weightless.
Sunday, February 24, 12:45pm
Friday, February 22, 10pm
Film Noir Cinema
(Roberto Gavaldón, Mexico, 1960, 91 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Poor, hungry peasant Macario longs for just one good meal on the Day of the Dead. After his wife cooks a turkey for him, he meets three apparitions, the Devil, God, and Death. Each asks him to share his turkey, but he refuses all except Death. In return, Death gives him a bottle of water which will heal any illness. Soon, Macario is more wealthy than the village doctor, which draws the attention of the feared Inquisition.
With live music by Reel Orchestrette
(Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico/USA, 2018, 135 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
In Alfonso Cuarón’s autobiographically inspired film, set in Mexico City in the early ’70s, we are placed within the physical and emotional terrain of a middle-class family whose center is quietly and unassumingly held by its beloved live-in nanny and housekeeper (Yalitza Aparicio). The cast is uniformly magnificent, but the real star of Roma is the world itself, fully present and vibrantly alive, from sudden life-changing events to the slightest shifts in mood and atmosphere. Cuarón tells us an epic story of everyday life while also gently sweeping us into a vast cinematic experience, in which time and space breathe and majestically unfold. Shot in breathtaking black and white and featuring a sound design that represents something new in the medium, Roma is a truly visionary work.
A TUBA TO CUBA
Village East Cinema
(T.G. Herrington and Danny Clinch, USA/Cuba, 2018, 82 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
The leader of New Orleans’ famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band seeks to fulfill his late father’s dream of retracing their musical roots to the shores of Cuba. Join the band as they traverse post-embargo Cuba in search of the indigenous music that gave birth to New Orleans jazz. Encounters with some of Cuba’s most iconic musicians leads to spontaneous and soulful collaborations. A Tuba to Cuba celebrates the triumph of the human spirit expressed through the universal language of music and challenges us to dig deeper; to find that common ground we all have inside us, and there, resolve to build bridges, not walls.
THE WOLF OF THE WEST COAST
Tuesday, February 19, 7pm
(El lobo de la costa oeste, Hugo Santiago, 2002, 132 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Introduced by Mariano Llinás, director of La Flor, Historias Extraordinarias, and Balnearios.
“There’s an American who crosses the Atlantic; an American who seems to have come out of the 19th century: a ship’s captain from Nantucket, or a Presbyterian shepherd from Nathaniel Hawthorne.
There’s a murder: A man dies in a garden, like a poem.
There’s the voice of an old woman, who tells the story, and who sounds like a lament, or like a litany, or like those prayers heard at noon from the mosques.
There is a woman who harasses a man, almost like dancing.
There is a girl who is also a song; there is a photo in which appears, as in an ideogram of the I Ching, the tragedy of a Nation and a Century.
There are the words of Hollywood, the accents of Hollywood, the way of talking from the old movies, Film Noir and Ross Macdonald. There they are, but wrapped in a maze of violins and mysteries from which they would hardly escape.
Hugo Santiago, one of the last filmmakers to think of films as objects of thought and beauty, gives us here his version of the Other Coast, complex and luxurious as a landscape.”
– Mariano Llinás
‘EL CINE QUEMA: THE FILMS OF RAYMUNDO GLEYZER’
Friday, February 22 – Thursday, February 28
Anthology Film Archives
‘CINEMA QUEMA: PROGRAM 1: MEXICO’
THE LAND BURNS (La tierra quema, Raymundo Gleyzer, Argentina, 1964, 12 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Made at a time when 2% of Brazil’s population owned 80% of its arable land, The Land Burns was the first in Gleyzer’s intended sequence of radical dossiers of exploitation across Latin America. The film’s protagonist is 35-year-old farmer Juan Amaro, whose struggles with child mortality and dry harvests form a devastating portrayal of dwindling options in the face of agrarian capitalism.
POTTERY MAKERS(Raymundo Gleyzer, Argentina, 1966, 25 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Collectively made in the Cordoba province, this film profiles a handful of different pottery makers who sell their work to visiting tourists – but the main character is Alcira López de López, whose struggles are shown in a light consistent with Gleyzer’s longer-form work, taking care to bring awareness to the role played by women both in earning money and maintaining home life. Even if it initially appears a traditional ethnographic survey, the film wastes little time in questioning the merits of its own existence (and of cinema as a tool for economic change at large).
MEXICO, THE FROZEN REVOLUTION (México, la Revolución congelada, Raymundo Gleyzer, Argentina, 1973, 65 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Clandestinely made, The Frozen Revolution diagnoses the relationship between Mexico’s ruling PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) and the revolution of 1910. Archival footage of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata feasting in landowner mansions is juxtaposed with the gaudy spectacle of CIA-backed PRI candidate Luis Echeverría’s presidential campaign, whereby untenable promises are made to illiterate campesinos across the country half a century later. Away from that spotlight, food shortages and neo-feudal export flows rule the day; the film registers the refusal of cosmopolitan Mexicans to see prior generations’ struggles as consistent with the controversial leftist movements roiling the hemisphere in Gleyzer’s time, instead leaning into a Euro-centric lifestyle.
Friday, February 22, 7:30pm and Sunday, February 24, 8pm
‘CINEMA QUEMA: PROGRAM 2’
IT HAPPENED IN HUALFIN (Ocurrido en Hualfin, Raymundo Gleyzer, Argentina, 1965, 50 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
It Happened in Hualfinadopts a tripartite approach to diagnose the poverty suffered by the Figueroa family, cane-cutters and potters in Argentina’s northwestern Catamarca province. The Figueroas describe harsh working conditions and express their hopes of breaking the poverty cycle, while their misery is testament to the contortion of big-government populism, embodied by a mechanical loom given to the family by Eva Perón during a publicity visit in the 1950s, then taken back after the Perons went into exile.
QUILINO (Raymundo Gleyzer, Argentina, 1966, 16 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Gleyzer’s first color film was his final collaboration with his old classmate Jorge Prelorán, who preferred a less polemical approach to documenting poverty. Quilino details the Cordoba villagers’ reliance on the railroad that brings them customers from the cities, and the looming likelihood that the route will be shut down.
OUR MALVINAS ISLANDS (Nuestras islasMalvinas, Raymundo Gleyzer, Argentina, 1966, 30 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Working on assignment for the news program “Telenoche,” with permission from the Queen of England, Gleyzer was the first Argentinean to shoot in the Islas Malvinas (known to their English occupiers as the Falklands, later cause for the 1982 conflict that expedited the end of the military dictatorship). Skirting the boundary between wry travelogue and econo-graphic survey, this is perhaps the least polemical of his films – but like the earlier shorts, it makes obvious Gleyzer’s empathy for his collaborators on the other side of the camera.
Saturday, February 23, 5:30pm
‘CINEMA QUEMA: PROGRAM 3: THE TRAITORS’
THE TRAITORS (Los traidores, Raymundo Gleyzer, Argentina, 1973, 105 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Gleyzer’s sole fiction film is at once a genre thriller, a searing condemnation of the United States’ interference in Southern Cone politics, and dark foreshadowing of the CIA-backed coup that would lead to his own murder. Based on a composite of multiple labor leaders, including one, José Ignacio Rucci, who was assassinated while the film was in production, The Traitors follows a corrupt trade unionist named Barrera (Víctor Proncet) who stages his own kidnapping to win an election. Blending farcical satire, the political intrigue of smoke-filled-rooms, and snatches of proletarian life, The Traitorsis an eerie and essential potboiler comparable to Mexico for probing the hypocrisy of powerful men building their empires on the backs of exploited workers in the name of populism.
THEY KILL ME IF I WORK, AND IF I DON’T WORK, THEY KILL ME (Me matan si trabajo y si trabajo me matan: La Huelga obrera en la fábrica INSUD, Raymundo Gleyzer, Argentina, 1974, 20 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
They Kill Me is a white-hot exposé of toxic working conditions at the INSUD metallurgical factory in the partido of La Matanza, just outside Buenos Aires. Gleyzer and his crew sit with workers while they recount workplace abuses and sing darkly comic songs around the communal pot (“The company fills us with lead / And the police too”). The poisoning suffered by the workers propels them towards a bitter and ultimately successful strike. The film is dedicated to attorney and labor advocate Rodolfo Ortega Peña, who provided legal defense to the workers and was murdered by the paramilitary Alianza Anticomunista Argentina (or “Triple A”) for it. Like most of Gleyzer’s later work, They Kill Me ends with a call for its viewers to take up arms and join the struggle against capitalism.
Saturday, February 23, 8pm and Monday, February 25, 7:30pm
Through Thursday, February 28
NO ONE IS INNOCENT(Nadie es inocente, Sarah Minter, Mexico,1985-87, 55 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Sarah Minter’s no-future classic Nadie es inocente is a fictionalized document of the chavos banda (youth gang) punk community in the slums of Mexico City’s Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl (also known as Neza York) shot on Betacam over a number of years. Minter structures the film around bad trip of a reformed punk named Kara as he takes the train from Neza back to the main city; delivered in both flashback and voiceover monologue, his memories serve as desolate testimony from an apocalyptic adolescence. Nadie es inocente was written and performed in collaboration (Minter would later say, complicity) with the young Mierdas Punks who play themselves on screen, and betrays Minter’s extraordinary access. The film also repurposes 16mm concert footage from her collaboration with Gregorio Rocha Sabado de mierda (Saturday of Shit), using slow motion and inventive sound editing to give big-screen gravitas to handheld shots of desert throwdowns as Kara’s self-extinguishing memories. Shown and distributed locally on VHS in New York City by Karen Ranucci’s Downtown Video for years before it was seen, Nadie es inocente is a remarkable and unsentimental depiction of teenage life and urban displacement.
Monday, February 25, 7:30pm
SAINT FRENZY (San Frenesi, Sarah Minter and Gregorio Rocha, Mexico, 1983, 34 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Starring Maribel Mejia as a young woman who goes on a road trip reeling from a string of heartbreaks and bad relationships, Minter’s early collaboration with her then-partner Rocha feels more apiece with the French New Wave influences of a successive generation. (She spoke admiringly about Godard in an interview, but described her later ideas as more directly influenced by Dziga Vertov.) There isn’t a ton of evidence of the staccato editing that would mark Nadie es inocente, but one prolonged sex scene – in which a furiously edited sequence of sound effects takes center stage over abstracted imagery – can only hint at the individual liberation to follow.
Monday, February 25, 7:30pm
Sunday, February 24, 4:45pm
Anthology Film Archives
(Fernando Pérez, Cuba, 2003, 80 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
A poetic homage to the city of Havana, this breathtaking film is a lovely and melancholic portrait of Cuba’s capital. Following in the tradition of the city symphony by adopting a “day-in-the-life-of” structure, it follows ten ordinary Habaneros as they go about their daily routine. There is no dialogue and no need for it either; music and natural sound accompany the multiplicity of images that weave a unique and intimate picture of a city full of contradictions and contrasts, a city of accomplished and frustrated dreams. Edited like a musical composition, Suite Habana oscillates between documentary and fiction. The ten characters range in age from 10 to 97, and represent the diversity of groups that form the city’s social fabric. Each of them follows a narrative, and we follow their transfor-mations as the workday ends and they prepare themselves to welcome the night.