This Week in Cinema Tropical
This Wednesday, the Film Society of Lincoln Center and The Museum of Modern Art open their prestigious showcase of films by emerging filmmakers from around the world. This year’s New Directors/New Films will be screening a handful of shorts and feature films from Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico as part of their diverse slate of international cinema.
At the top of our list are Lila Avilés‘ The Chambermaid, Alejandro Landes’ Monos, André Novais Oliveira‘s Temporada and Lucio Castro‘sThe End of the Century, offering special opportunities to experience novel story-telling methods from the best emerging filmmakers of the region. For full screening information see below.
Finally, New York is also host this week to the Colombian Film Festival, opening Thursday at Cinépolis Chelsea, and the powerful, self-representational Native Cinema Showcase, openingFriday at the National Museum of the American Indian. Both of these festivals are providing platforms for stories that have for too long stood ignored, silenced, or overlooked.
And be sure to check out the new streaming platform OVID.tv, which hosts the collection of eight of the most noteworthy, independent film distribution companies in the U.S. and includes some great Latin American titles!
I’M LEAVING NOW
Monday, March 25, 6:30pm
NYU’s King Juan Carlos I Center
(Ya me voy, Lindsey Cordero and Armando Croda, Mexico/ USA, 2018, 74 min. In Spanish and English with English subtitles)
Felipe has come to a crossroads. After 16 years in Brooklyn, working three low-paying jobs and collecting bottles on the street in his spare time and sending the bulk of his earnings home to his family in Mexico, he’s decided to return to his wife and the children he hasn’t seen in almost two decades. But when he informs his family of his homecoming, he discovers that they’ve squandered the money, are deeply in debt and don’t want him to return. They need him to stay in the US, continuing to earn. Shot over two years in the heart of Brooklyn’s immigrant community, I’m Leaving Now (Ya me voy) is a searingly intimate portrait of one undocumented worker on the margins. A blend of documentary with some fictional elements, the film allows the rhythms, emotions and sounds of Felipe’s life and the city to drive the story, utilizing a structure and a style often not seen in documentaries. Impress-ionistic, cinematic and with the city as its soundscape, the film pushes the boundary of how docu-mentary can capture the lives of the unseen, ultimately elevating this one lonely man’s story into a lyrical meditation on themes of family and home, loneliness and love. As Felipe debates whether to stay or go, the film builds to a heartbreaking portrait of the struggle and drama that exist in the lives of the often invisible figures toiling away in the kitchens, hotel rooms and construction sites of our biggest cities. Eschewing politics, the film is political nonetheless – a quiet and unforgettable snapshot of one man held in suspension between a world of endless work and a faraway home.
Post-screening discussion with filmmakers Armando Croda and Lindsey Cordero, writer/producer Josh Alexander, and Director of Quantitative Research at New American Economy, Andrew Lim. Moderated by Executive Director of the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations (WCPUN), Shamina de Gonzaga.
‘QUEENS WORLD FILM FESTIVAL’
Through Sunday, March 31
Museum of the Moving Image and Kaufman Astoria Studios
(Alexia Maltner, Brazil, 2017, 12min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
On her 50 years wedding anniversary day with Caio, Dora decides to act guided by her true desire. A desire that will change the course of their lives.
Sunday, March 31, 12pm at Kaufman Astoria Studios
(Nate Dorr & Maya Edelman, USA, 2018, 16min. In English)
A vibrant industrial neighborhood thriving despite city neglect. Immigrant workers, documented and undocumented. A city plan for massive redevelop-ment: malls, business centers, hotels, condos. Self-serving developers. Eminent domain. A destruction. A limbo. A renewal? Willets Point is an industrial wedge of northeast Queens consisting for most of the last 70 years of almost entirely autobody shops and scrap yards. Despite city neglect, pitted streets, and a complete lack of storm drains that cause frequent flooding, as of 2006, the neighborhood provided the livelihoods for 1400 to 1800 people, mostly immigrants, many undocumented. This film, shot spanning the major “urban renewal” operations from 2014 to 2017, documents the conversion of a vibrant, singular small business district into a wasteland, and envisions a different kind of renewal unlikely to be allowed by developers and city officials.
Sunday, March 31, 1pm at MoMI
(El buzo, Esteban Arrangoiz, Mexico, 2016, 16min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Julio César Cu Cámara is the chief diver in the Mexico City sewerage system, he job is to repair pumps and dislodge garbage that flows into the gutters to maintain the circulation of sewerage waters.
Sunday, March 31, 1pm at MoMI
MADE IN MEXICO
Thursday, March 28, 6pm
Parsons School of Design
(Matt Barkin, USA, 2019, 14 mins. In Spanish and English with English subtitles)
Made In Mexico follows fashion activist Amanda Hearst and students from Parsons School of Fashion, California College of the Arts, and Duke University as they get to know Reina, Oliva and other fierce women behind our fast fashion labels.
Followed by a post-screening discussion with Burak Cakmak, Ayesha Barenblat, and Carmen Gana.
THE HANKY CODE
‘THE CINEMA OF GENDER TRANS-GRESSION: TRANS FILM’
Thursday, March 28, 6:30pm
Anthology Film Archives
Before Internet dating and hookup apps, The Handkerchief code was largely used by gay men in the 1970s to distinguish sexual preferences and fetishes in gay clubs and on the streets of places like San Francisco and New York. In Hanky Code, San Francisco’s queer experimental film collective Periwinkle Cinema brings together queer and trans filmmakers across a spectrum of genres, styles, genders, and locations to dissect the code in this epic anthology feature comprised of 25 short films. Each filmmaker or filmmaking team tells a story of a different color/fetish of the code. Films range from narrative to experimental to erotic and animated, weaving through various cultural connections – including the Latinx community – to the scene in the 70s. Many films redefine the traditional code with colors, patterns, and fetishes according to the creative interpretation of the artist.
THE HOLY MOUNTAIN
‘WAVERLY MIDNIGHTS: LATE-NIGHT FAVORITES’
Friday, March 29, 11:55pm
(Alejandro Jodorowsky, Mexico, 1973, 114 mins. In Spanish and English with English subtitles)
The follow-up to his Midnight Movie sensation El Topo, writer-director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain caused a scandal at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival with its flood of sacrilegious imagery, existential symbolism and outrageous violence. Once again, Jodorowsky plays the allegorically named lead, “The Alchemist,” who assembles a group of people from all walks of life and renames them for the planets in the solar system. Putting his recruits through strange mystical rites and divesting them of their worldly baggage, he leads them on a trip to Lotus Island to ascend the Holy Mountain and displace the immortal gods who secretly rule the universe. This gorgeous new digital restoration, overseen by the filmmaker himself, returns Jodorowsky’s most visually extravagant film to all its trippy splendor.
(Sebastián Lelio, Chile/USA, 2019, 102 min. In English)
From Academy Award-winning director Sebastián Lelio (A Fantastic Woman, Disobedience) comes a sophisticated romantic comedy that shows love can strike at any time, relationships are never simple, and nothing can get you down as long as you keep dancing. Gloria (Julianne Moore) is a free-spirited divorcée who spends her days at a straight-laced office job and her nights on the dance floor, joyfully letting loose at clubs around Los Angeles. After meeting Arnold (John Turturro) on a night out, she finds herself thrust into an unexpected new romance, filled with both the joys of budding love and the complications of dating, identity, and family.
NO MANCHES FRIDA 2
(Nacho G. Velilla, USA, 2019, 102 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
When the seemingly reformed ex-con Zequi is about to marry the love of his life, the lovably nerdy Lucy, wedding day jitters turn into a full blown fiasco and Lucy calls the wedding off. Meanwhile, the school finds itself in deep trouble and the gang heads to the water to compete in the tournament of their lives. Once they’re all seaside, Lucy runs into her high school sweetheart Mario, whom since she last saw him has transformed into a smoking hot hunk. He’s coach of the opposing squad and Zequi finds himself a rival in more than one competition. Now he has to pull out all the stops to wrangle in his rowdy kids, win Lucy back, and in case that wasn’t enough, save the school from shutting down by leading Frida High to victory.
‘NEW DIRECTORS / NEW FILMS’
Wednesday, March 27 through Sunday, April 7
The Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center
‘SHORTS PROGRAM 1’
LA MÁXIMA LONGITUD DE UN PUENTE (Simón Vélez López, Colombia/Argentina, 2018, 14 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
After a daring dive in Colombia’s Cauca River, a young man steals a motorcycle to take his girlfriend for a ride in this subdued yet mesmerizing work.
MISERICÓRDIA (Xavier Marrades, Brazil/Spain, 2019, 21 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
Filmed around Brazil’s Itaparica Island, this oneiric documentary evokes the rich, complicated ancestry of Bahia—considered the African heart of Brazil—through the dreams of its present-day inhabitants.
RESONANCIAS (Lucila Mariani, Argentina, 2019, 15 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
In this ruminative snapshot, a swimmer with a clogged ear finds herself drawn back to the sea.
Thursday, March 28, 6:15pm at The Museum of Modern Art
and Saturday, March 30, 12pm at Film Society of Lincoln Center
(La camarista, Lila Avilés, Mexico, 2018, 102 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
In her feature debut, theater director Lila Avilés turns the monotonous work day of Eve (Gabriela Cartol), a chambermaid at a high-end Mexico City hotel, into a beautifully observed film of rich detail. Set entirely in this alienating environment, with extended scenes taking place in the guest rooms, hallways, and cleaning facilities, this minimalist yet sumptuous movie brings to the fore Eve’s hopes, dreams, and desires. As with Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, set in the same city, The Chambermaid salutes the invisible women caretakers who are the hard-working backbone of society.
Friday, March 29, 8:45pmat The Museum of Modern Art
and Sunday, March 31, 12:30pm at Film Society of Lincoln Center
(Alejandro Landes, Colombia/ Argentina/Netherlands/ Germany/Sweden/ Uruguay, 2018, 102 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Monos, which won a Special Jury Award at Sundance, is sure to be one of the most hotly debated films of 2019—one critic called it “Apocalypse Now on shrooms.” In Alejandro Landes’s intensely thrilling twist on Lord of the Flies, Julianne Nicholson plays a terrorized American engineer held captive by teenage guerilla bandits in an unnamed South American jungle. Leaderless and rootless, the child soldiers puff themselves up with names like Rambo, Smurf, and Bigfoot (the latter a brutal Moises Arias), and survive the tedium and predation of the wilderness through sexual games and cult-like rituals. As they wage physical and psychological warfare on perceived enemies—and, inevitably, among themselves—they are reduced to a state of desperate barbarism. The film’s sense of surreal menace is amplified by Mica Levi’s discordant soundscape and Jasper Wolf’s cinematography.
Saturday, March 30, 6pmat The Museum of Modern Art and Sunday, March 31, 6pm at Film Society of Lincoln Center
END OF THE CENTURY
(Lucio Castro, Argentina, 2019, 84 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
An Argentinian man from New York and a Spanish man from Berlin hook up by chance while in Barcelona. What seems like a one-night encounter between two strangers (played by Juan Barberini and Ramón Pujol) becomes an epic, decades-spanning relationship, which Lucio Castro depicts in a nonlinear fashion, and in which time and space refuse to play by the rules. Castro’s inventive and enigmatic debut feature is consistently surprising, turning a love story into a cosmic voyage with no clear beginning or end.
Saturday, March 30, 8:45pm at The Museum of Modern Art
(André Novais Oliveira, Brazil, 2018, 113 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
The everyday takes on a profound and touching resonance in André Novais Oliveira’s sophomore feature. Juliana (an excellent Grace Passô) moves from her Brazilian hometown of Itaúnas to the larger and more sprawling Contagem to take a job within a public-health program combating the spread of dengue fever. While waiting for her husband to join her, she sets about making the rounds, inspecting people’s homes for mosquito hiding places and becoming acquainted with a new cast of characters who will lead her to look beyond her past and toward an uncertain future. A deft and deeply felt character study, Long Way Home establishes Oliveira as a great emerging talent of contemporary Brazilian cinema.
Sunday, March 31, 3:15pm at Film Society of Lincoln Center
MAMI Y YO Y MI GALLITO
‘FEMINIST FILM NIGHT’
Thursday, March 28, 7pm
(Arisleyda Dilone, USA, 2015, 16 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
For the past five years, Aris, the filmmaker has been pestering her mom to talk to her about her childhood, her body and past and pending surgical decisions: all in front of a camera. In Mami y Yo y Mi Gallito, Aris and her mother finally sit down to talk about her body as a hermaphrodite.
Friday, March 29, 2pm
New York Public Library
(Leon Ichaso and Orlando Jiménez Leal, Cuba/USA, 1979, 90 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
A slice-of-life look at Roberto and Aurelia, Cuban exiles living in New York City with their 17-year-old daughter Aurelita. It’s February, 1978; the winter is harsh, and for ten years Roberto’s been the super of an apartment building, firing up the boiler, repairing windows, moving bags of garbage. He’s homesick for Cuba, stuck in repetitive conversations about the Bay of Pigs, Castro, and life back home. El Super, celebrating its 40th Anniversary, is a tragi-comedy that was one of the first to portray the life of a working-class Cuban family in the United States.
Introduction by Raul Barcelona. Appearance by producer Manuel Arce and playwright Iván Acosta.
‘BOB & WRAY: A HOLLYWOOD LOVE STORY’
Wednesday, March 27, 2pm, 5:45pm, 9:30pm
(Jack Conway and Howard Hawks, USA, 1934. In English)
This is a biography of Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary hero who was gunned down on the street in 1923, three years after he had retired and been given a pension by the same government that then conspired to assassinate him. 10 years later this was still a sensitive subject in Mexico with real or imagined Villaistas seen as a potential threat, and here was Hollywood shooting a film in Mexico. Based on a best-selling biography, the film glosses over Villa’s incursion into New Mexico in 1916, and the government’s culpability in his death. This is a big-budget action western, kept moving by action specialists like Jack Conway and Howard Hawks. Wallace Beery had played Pancho Villa once before in 1917 in a wartime spy serial, probably demonized as he was in the American press at that time, but here Beery plays a lovable bandit with a social conscience, a role he was familiar with. One of Pancho Villa’s daughters, Cecilia Villa, was sent on an extensive publicity tour when MGM opened the film, but her attempt at a Hollywood career proved unsuccessful.
I AM CUBA
(Soy Cuba. Mikhail Kalatozov, Cuba/ USSR, 1964, 108 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Havana, late 50s. Helicopter-borne, the camera swoops from a dark sea over a lush tropical island, its palm trees like white feathers against an almost equally dark sky; then goes through and under a village on stilts amid the wetlands; a fashion show atop a skyscraper as the camera slides down to a rooftop swimming pool, and follows a dark-haired bikinied beauty into and under the water. And that’s just the beginning. Director Kalatozov (The Cranes Are Flying), along with legendary poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, screenwriter Enrique Pineda Barnet and camera-maestro Sergei Urusevsky, did for the 1959 revolution what Eisenstein had done for Russia’s, creating a riot of innovative photography, rapid-fire cutting, screen-filling close-ups, hair-raising handheld tracking shots, crane shots, elevator shots, and still-astonishing how-did-they-do-it shots.
ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL
(Robert Rodriguez, USA, 2019, 122 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Set several centuries in the future, the abandoned Alita is found in the scrapyard of Iron City by Ido, a compassionate cyber-doctor who takes the unconscious cyborg Alita to his clinic. When Alita awakens, she has no memory of who she is, nor does she have any recognition of the world she finds herself in. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious past.
‘THE COLOMBIAN FILM FESTIVAL NY’
Thursday, March 28 through Sunday, March 31
For many years, the film industry in Colombia has often lacked the resources to produce national cinema. Amongst several setbacks was the absence of a national audience who demanded Hollywood films. In recent years, Colombia has expanded its resources to support filmmakers throughout the country, since then the number of productions has increased dramatically.’The Colombian Film Festival of New York’ was founded in 2012 by Juan Carvajal, a filmmaker from Cali, Colombia, otherwise known as Caliwood for its history and talent in filmmaking. Juan noticed the small presence of Colombian cinema while visiting New York City. Determined to unify the existing diaspora of the country and New York community he set a goal to create a festival dedicated to the exhibition of Colombia’s roots and talent. Let’s discover and rediscover our story through film!
‘NATIVE CINEMA SHOWCASE’
Friday, March 29 – Sunday, March 31
National Museum of the American Indian, New York
‘SHORTS: THE LAND SPEAKS’
68 VOICES: EARTH’S CREATION (68 Voces: La Creación del mundo, Gabriela Badillo, Mexico, 2017, 1 min. In Cora with English subtitles)
68 Voices is a series of animated shorts that retell 68 indigenous stories narrated in their native tongues. Created by Gabriela Badillo under the premise that “no one can love what they do not know,” 68 Voices seeks to strengthen bonds between indigenous and non-indigenous language speakers, fostering pride in the indigenous communities that make up Mexico’s cultural richness. This short features the story behind the mitote dance as told through the Cora people.
KAWSAK SACHA (Eriberto Gualinga, Ecuador, 2018, 30 min. In Spanish and Kichwa with English subtitles)
As a symbol of the Living Forest (Kawsak Sacha)—and a motion of reconquest and decolonization—the Kichwa People of Sarayaku build a canoe and bring it to the 2015 Paris Conference of the Parties.
LA NIÑA DEL ARPA(Leyzer Chiquín, Guatemala, 2018, 6 min. In Maya Q’echi’ with English subtitles)
A Mayan girl living with her father in Guatemala faces eviction from her land and an uncertain future.
Saturday, March 30, 11am
‘SHORTS: RISE ABOVE’
TIJERAS (Gustavo Ramirez, Peru, 2018, 3 min. In Quechua and Spanish)
In her hit single Tijeras, Renata Flores Rivera (Quechua) takes on the patriarchy in Peru.
Sunday, March 31, 1pm
‘FLAHERTY SEMINAR: THE PUZZLE AND THE WORLD’
Tuesday, March 26, 7pm
Anthology Film Archives
(Ana Vaz, Brazil, 2018, 12 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
Há Terra! is an encounter, a hunt, a diachronic tale of looking and becoming. As in a game, as in a chase, the film errs between character and land, land and character, predator and prey.
Thursday, March 28, 6:30pm
The Cooper Union
(Cecilia Ricciarelli and Diego Malquori, Cuba, 2001, 29 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Havana Today: Impressions of a City in 16 Chapters, a film co-directed by Cecilia Ricciarelli and Diego Malquori, is narrated in sixteen fragments, or variations, that together make up a whole. Some of the fragments are stories about the fantasy and imagination of a life divided between revolutionary struggle and survival. Others are interviews with artists, intellectuals or passers-by, which reveal their relationship with this city. Others are composed of collages of images that speak for themselves. The film was inspired by a film project imagined in the ‘60s by Cesare Zavattini and was an official selection at 23 Festival del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano, La Habana, 24ème Cinéma du Réel, Paris, and 2 Festival Docúpolis, Barcelona.
Screening followed by a conversation with Malquori, Director of Photography Pablo Massip, and historian Michelle Chase to discuss the film and the current situation in Cuba.
THE BLACK MOZART IN CUBA
‘AFRICAN DIASPORA FILM FESTIVAL: SPRING SERIES’
Friday, March 29, 8pm
Columbia University’s Teachers College
(Steve James, Guadeloupe/Cuba, 2008, 52 mins. In English, French, and Spanish with English subtitles)
The Black Mozart in Cuba is the latest act in the rehabilitation of the memory of this extraordinary human being. The film skillfully combines biographical information with performances of his works.
Born in Guadeloupe of a Senegalese slave and a French nobleman, Joseph Boulogne, Le Chevalier de Saint-Georges (1745-1799), became one of the most remarkable figures of the 18th century. He influenced the music and political life of his time. He was a genius composer and conductor, a virtuoso violinist, the best fencer in Europe, as well as the first black general in the French army. For 200 years after his death his music was rarely heard, due in part to Napoleon’s efforts to erase his existence from history. Today, his music is being rediscovered and played by orchestras and music groups around the world. In this documentary, Cuba dedicates a week of cultural activities to his memory and welcomes Saint Georges as “a great hero of the Caribbean.”
THERE IS A GAZE THRUST UPON ME
‘WHAT YOU GET IS WHAT YOU SEE’
Sunday, March 31, 7:30pm
“What You Get Is What You See” is back for 2019 featuring artist and performer Joiri Minaya. In this installment of the series, Minaya will present her research on tropical pattern design and its roots in exploration, exploitation and labor, and how this history continues through rampant capitalist tourism in the tropics. In this multi-disciplinary event, the artist shifts the gaze from a historic colonial one to a contemporary perspective of a woman of color.
Followed by a Q&A with Joiri Minaya and curator Mathilde Walker-Billaud.
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, Birds of Passage is a sprawling epic about the erosion of tradition in pursuit of material wealth.