This Week in Cinema Tropical
This week there’s still time to enjoy a wonderful selection of films from the Tribeca Film Festival. Several Latinx authors have been included in this prestigious festival, showcasing the great talent of the tropical latitudes and touching on subjects such as immigration, trauma, music, and street art culture.
Be sure not to miss Mexican film This Is Not Berlin by Hari Sama. “The movie that will make you want to become a pansexual new-wave performance artist in 1980s Mexico” (Vulture) is having two more screening as part of the festival.
Don’t forget, friends of Cinema Tropical have special access to 20% off on Tribeca’s Latin American film screenings. Just enter promo code triffest2019 at checkout and enjoy the show.
‘TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL 2019’
Through Sunday, May 5
(Iniciales SG, Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia, Argentina/Lebanon/USA, 2019, 93 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
An aging Argentine Serge Gainsbourg-wannabe struggles with a career he can’t seem to get on track, an affair he doesn’t want, and a crime he didn’t mean to commit.
Monday, April 29, 9:45pm; Tuesday, May 30, 5pm; and Sunday, May 5, 3:45pm at Village East Cinema
THIS IS NOT BERLIN
(Esto no es Berlín, Hari Sama, Mexico, 2019, 112 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Set in Mexico in 1986, as the country gets ready for the World Cup, the film follows 17-year-old Carlos, an introverted kid who doesn’t fit in: not in his family nor at school. Everything changes when he’s invited to the Aztec, a legendary Mexico City nightclub where he discovers the underground nightlife scene – post-punk, sexually fluid, and fueled by drugs. Carlos’s awakening will challenge his relationship with his best friend, Gera, the brother of his crush, Rita, while helping him discover his passion for experimental art and lead him into adulthood.
Monday, April 29 at Regal Cinemas Battery Park and Thursday, May 2, 11:30am at Village East Cinema
(Juan Cabral, UK/China/Canada, 2019, 115 min. In English and Mandarin with English subtitles)
Kaden (Boyd Holbrook) is a world-class ski jumper in Canada, pining for a lost love. Khai (Song Yang) is a corporate executive in Shanghai, drawn to a new coworker with a secret. The two men go about their lives, without knowing that they are connected.
Tuesday, April 30, 5:30pm at Village East Cinema and Thursday, May 2, 8:30pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park
MARTHA: A PICTURE STORY
(Selina Miles, Australia/ Germany/USA/Brazil, 2019, 90 min. In English)
In 1970s New York, photographer Martha Cooper captured the birth of graffiti. Decades later, she discovers her unlikely role in the spread of global street art culture.
Tuesday, April 30, 9:30pm and Wednesday, May 1, 3:45pm at Village East Cinema
(Martha Shane and Ian Cheney, USA/Germany/ Japan/Argentina/ Austria/UK/Scotland, 2019, 81 min. In English, Arabic, Japanese, and Spanish with English subtitles)
Emojis are a worldwide phenomenon, with some arguing that these smiling poops and heart-eyed faces are on the verge of actually becoming their own language. But where do they come from? Who, if anyone, is in charge of this new global digital language?
Tuesday, April 30, 5:45pm at Village East Cinema; Thursday, May 2, 6:30pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park; and Sunday, May 5, 2pm at Village East Cinema
(Lesley Chilcott, Costa Rica/USA/Tonga, 2019, 99 min. In Spanish, English, French and Japanese with English subtitles)
Watson is the story of Sea Shepherd’s Captain Paul Watson, a real life action hero who has spent five decades at sea, risking his life to protect our oceans.
Wednesday, May 1, 7pm at Village East Cinema
A TALE OF TWO KITCHENS
(Trisha Ziff, USA/Mexico, 2019, 30 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Two countries, two restaurants, one vision. A Tale of Two Kitchensexplores how a restaurant is a place of dignity and community across Mexico City and San Francisco.
Wednesday, May 1, 5pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park; Thursday, May 2, 5pm and Saturday May 4, 8:45pm at Village East Cinema
THE GASOLINE THIEVES
(Huachicolero, Edgar Nito, Mexico/ Spain/UK/USA, 2019, 93 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
illegal gasoline extraction. What begins as a fast track for a smartphone veers into a fight for his life.
Thursday, May 2, 5:30pm at Regal Cinemas Battery Park
THE DOMINICAN DREAM
(Jonathan Hock, USA/Dominican Republic, 2019, 77 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
A portrait of the Dominican immigrants of New York in the ’80s and ’90s, seen through a loving family whose youngest son would rise unimaginably high, then crash and burn, only to rise again. Embraced as an immigrant hero, then cast aside as an American failure, Felipe Lopez would eventually find happiness not as a basketball player, but as the man he was always meant to be.
Saturday, May 4, 3:15pm at Village East Cinema
(Isabel Castro, USA, 2019, 12 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Follow a Honduran family in the months after their separation under the zero-tolerance policy.
Saturday, May 4, 2:30pm
(Deborah Esquenazi, USA, 2019, 12 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
In a confessional built from home video and animation, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio explores the mental prisons and personal trauma created by immigration policy.
Saturday, May 4, 2:30pm at SVA Theatre
LA REINA DEL WATERMELON THUMP
(Jeff Reichert & Farihah Zaman, USA, 2019, 15 min. In English)
In Luling, the “toughest town in Texas,” two Latina high school girls compete to be the next Watermelon Thump Queen.
Saturday, May 4, 2:30pm at SVA Theatre
BOCA DEL LOBO
(Jesse Moss, USA, 2019, 17 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Mario Guevara, a reporter for Mundo Hispanico, investigates the impact of ICE arrests on his Atlanta community.
Saturday, May 4, 2:30pm at SVA Theatre
A TASTE OF SKY
(Michael Lei, USA/Bolivia/Denmark, 2019, 85 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Two young Bolivian lives are forever changed when they cross paths with an unlikely culinary project and Claus Meyer, the internationally acclaimed chef who founded it.
Sunday, May 5, 11:30am at Village East Cinema
Saturday, May 4, 7:30pm
(Laura Huertas Millán, Colombia, 2018, 21 min.)
An investigative journey that explores physical and mental ruin and the insolvency of dreams built on smoking mirrors. The camera takes us through the ruins of a decaying palace in the southern jungle of Colombia that was once built after the mansion in the American soap opera Dynasty. We encounter images alternating between found footage from the mansion in the TV show and 16mm footage of a man who guides us through the destroyed remains of its twin sister. The man narrates his experience working with the original house owner, drug trafficker Evaristo Porras, and retells the downfall of his drug dynasty.
OJOS PARA MIS ENEMIGOS
(Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Puerto Rico, 2014, 14 min.)
Santiago Muñoz’ Ojos para mis enemigos uses site as a point of reclamation of culture, religion, and nature. A former highly controlled US military site in Puerto Rico becomes the place in which santero and activist Pedro Ortiz collects flowers for spiritual offerings. Ojos para mis enemigos faces the physical leftovers of man made structure and US colonialism with the plants and animals that now physically reclaim the space.
KNOCK DOWN THE HOUSE
Opens Wednesday, May 1
(Rachel Lears, USA, 2019, 86 min. In English)
Four exceptional women mount grassroots campaigns against powerful incumbents in Knock Down the House, an inspiring look at the 2018 midterm elections that tipped the balance of power. When tragedy struck her family in the middle of the financial crisis, Bronx-born Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had to work double shifts as a bartender to save her home from foreclosure. After losing a loved one to a preventable medical condition, Amy Vilela didn’t know what to do with the anger she felt about America’s broken health care system. Cori Bush, a registered nurse and pastor, was drawn to the streets when the police shooting of an unarmed black man brought protests and tanks into her neighborhood. A coal miner’s daughter, Paula Jean Swearengin was fed up with watching her friends and family suffer from the environmental effects of the coal industry. Winner of the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary and the Festival Favorite Award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Knock Down the Housejoins these courageous women on the campaign trail as they mobilize their bases, engage voters, and fuel a movement during a historic time in American politics.
‘ROBERTO GAVALDÓN: NIGHT FALLS IN MEXICO’
Through Sunday, May 5
The Museum of Modern Art
The work of Mexican director Roberto Gavaldón spans the cultural divide at the center of Mexican national cinema, embracing both rural sagas of peasant life (the genre made internationally famous by Gavaldón’s contemporary, Emilio Fernández) and urban dramas centered on moneyed professionals (as in the cosmopolitan work of Julio Bracho). But whether they wear a sombrero (like Pedro Armendáríz in Rosauro Castro) or a fedora (like Arturo de Córdova in En la palma de tu mano), Gavaldón’s protagonists are marked by ungover-nable passions and gnawing self-doubt, as they move through an unstable world toward a frequently unkind fate. A brilliant technician, Gavaldón developed a distinctive visual style—based on bold back-lighting and intricately subdivided spaces—that suggests the film noir stylings of Hollywood directors like Anthony Mann and Joseph H. Lewis. With the assistance of such regular collaborators as the cinematographer Alex Phillips, the writer and political activist José Revueltas, and the composer Raúl Lavista, Gavaldón created a dense and coherent body of work that is only now being rediscovered, thanks largely to the ongoing restoration work of Mexico’s two major archives, the Cineteca Nacional and the Filmoteca de la UNAM.
THE RIVER AND AND THE WALL
‘FOCUS ON NATURE 2019’
Tuesday, April 30, 7pm
Jacob Burns Film Center
(Ben Masters, Mexico/USA, 2019. 97 min. In English)
Some filmmakers just have incredible timing. This gorgeous, powerful, and timely new film about the environmental impacts of the proposed border wall even features Beto O’Rourke. It tracks a team of five explorers on a 1200-mile journey down the Rio Grande, which marks the southern boundary of Texas and the US–Mexico border, as they seek to experience and capture on film the rugged landscapes of this vast frontier before the border wall changes this part of the river forever. Traveling from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on horses, mountain bikes, and canoes, they explore the potential impacts of the wall on the natural environment and come face-to-face with the human side of the immigration debate.
Thursday, May 2, 7:30pm
Re-Transmissions is a night of screening, audio play and live presentation exploring the acts of transmission and translation of voices. Focusing on rare and endangered Indigenous tongues spoken in the Americas and Europe, the evening presents a selection of films and interdisciplinary projects which re-mediate the oral acts, which re-connect the language with the bodies and the land, as well as with the mediators — collectors, translators and/or recording technologies. Here, the artists and filmmakers take us in the spaces of dissociation and glitches; capture the delicate, and sometimes radical, movements of transfer, migration, and encounter. Polyglottic and polyphonic, the program raises questions about ownership, authenticity, memory, loss and cultural resistance.
‘FILM CLUB PRESENTS’
Friday, May 3, 6:30pm
El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center
(Tatiana Fernández Geara, Dominican Republic, 2015, 71 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Leidy, Fina and Clara leave their children in distant towns to be raised by relatives while they are away caring for somebody else’s child. Going back and forth between urban and rural scenarios, this documentary goes deep into the conflicts faced by live-in nannies. In a love chain, where mother figures are substituted and duplicated, bonds grow strong between kids and their nannies, and between the nannies’ children and the grandmothers or aunts who care for them. Is there just one way to define motherly love?
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.
DECADE OF FIRE
Opens, Friday, May 3
(Gretchen Hildebran and Vivian Vazquez, USA, 2018, 76 min. In English)
We all know the official story of South Bronx blight in the 1970s—“Ladies and gentlemen, the Bronx is burning” and so on—but borough native Vazquez’s vital documentary tells another side of the tale, uncovering city government policies of methodical negligence that abandoned Black and Latino neighborhoods, leaving them to wither and their residents to scatter, those left behind conveniently taking the blame for the destruction. A cold case investigation by a filmmaker who lived through it all, naming the true culprits who were trying to kill these neighborhoods and explaining why—and also a touching testimony to those who survived their baptism by fire, indefatigably remaining to build anew.
‘IARA LEE RETROSPECTIVE’
Through Tuesday, April 30
Maysles Documentary Center
(Iara Lee, Burkina Faso/USA/Bulgaria, 2018, 72 min. In English, French, and Moré with English subtitles)
Burkinabè Rising showcases nonviolent creative resistance in Burkina Faso. A small, landlocked country in West Africa, Burkina Faso is home to a vibrant community of artists and engaged citizens, and provides an example of the type of political change that can be achieved when people come together. It is an inspiration, not only to the rest of Africa but also to the rest of the world. Followed by a Q&A with director Iara Lee.
Monday, April 29, 7:30pm
(Iara Lee, USA, 1998, 73 min. In English)
Modulations is a feature-length documentary that captures a moment in history where humans and machines are fusing to create today’s most exciting sounds. Followed by a Q&A with director Iara Lee.
Tuesday, April 30, 7:30pm
CULTURES OF RESISTANCE
(Iara Lee, USA, 2010, 72 min. In English) Cultures of Resistance explores how art and creativity can be ammunition in the battle for peace and justice. Does each gesture really make a difference? Can music and dance be weapons of peace? In 2003, on the eve of the Iraq war, director Iara Lee embarked on a journey to better understand a world increasingly embroiled in conflict and, as she saw it, heading for self-destruction. After several years, travelling over five continents, Iara encountered growing numbers of people who committed their lives to promoting change. This is their story. Followed by a Q&A with director Iara Lee.
Thursday, May 2, 7:30pm
‘THE CINEMA OF GENDER TRANS-GRESSION: TRANS FILM’
Tuesday, April 30, 7pm
Anthology Film Archives
(Sergio Toledo, Brazil, 1986, 88 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
“A butch is rescued from a reform school and put to work in a library by her guardian; once established as a functional employee, she remakes herself as Bauer, a slick young man in a neat suit and tie. Bauer cannot find recognition for his new gender, and he is met everywhere with disbelief or refusal. This film finds nothing about gender to be artificial and suggests that the weight of gender realness burdens the transsexual or transgender body with disastrous effects. Difference and the desire to have one’s difference heard, registered, seen, and felt are the real themes of the transvested butch and the transgender man.” –Jack Halberstam, Female Masculinity
Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN
‘MODERN MATINEES: ON THE MOVE’
Thursday, May 2, 1:30pm
The Museum of Modern Art
(Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico, 2001, 106 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
This smash road comedy from Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón is that rare movie to combine raunchy subject matter and emotional warmth. Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna shot to international stardom as a pair of horny Mexico City teenagers from different classes who, after their girlfriends jet off to Italy for the summer, are bewitched by a gorgeous older Spanish woman (Maribel Verdú) they meet at a wedding. When she agrees to accompany them on a trip to a faraway beach, the three form an increasingly intense and sensual alliance that ultimately strips them both physically and emotionally bare. Shot with elegance and dexterity by the great Emmanuel Lubezki, Y tu mamá también is a funny and moving look at human desire.
‘ART ON FILM’
Friday, May 3 – Friday, May 10
Jacob Burns Film Center
(Cristóbal Valenzuela, Chile/France, 2017, 83 min. In Spanish and French with English subtitles)
On a bright June morning in 2005, guards at Santiago’s Palace of the Fine Arts were doing their rounds when they made a startling discovery: A small bronze sculpture by the French master Auguste Rodin—on loan from Paris and worth millions—had gone missing. A frantic afternoon passed before a young art student showed up with the Rodin in his backpack, claiming he’d swiped it as a provocative statement on whether a work of art can be present and absent at the same time. This fascinating documentary revisits the biggest art theft in Chile’s history and its colorful cast of characters, from museum officials to police, reporters, political figures—and the perpetrator himself.
Saturday, May 4, 4:30pm
WITKIN & WITKIN
(Trisha Ziff, Mexico/ USA, 2017, 90 min. In Spanish and English with English subtitles)
Witkin & Witkin explores the worlds of two celebrated artists born in Brooklyn—the photographer Joel-Peter Witkin and the painter Jerome Witkin—looking at their work, the philosophy of their practices, and the curiously severed lives of these identical twins. For most of their 80-plus years the two have lived and worked at opposite ends of the country, showing very little interest in reuniting. Witkin & Witkin astutely contrasts the mediums of painting and photography, looking at perception and creativity through the lens of the artists and their separate lives, and, over four years of filming, allows the passage of time to tell its own parallel narrative.
Monday, May 6, 7:30pm
THE REST I MAKE UP
Monday, May 6, 7pm
(Michelle Memran, USA, 2018, 79min. In English)
Visionary Cuban-born playwright María Irene Fornés was a major force in the American theater, a nine-time Obie Award winner, and a teacher to many a literary luminary, including Nilo Cruz and Sarah Ruhl— but an Alzheimer’s diagnosis threatens to halt her career. Memran, in her debut film, follows Fornés over the course of years, as she narrates the story of her own life with the help of friends including Edward Albee and Ellen Stewart, journeys to Havana to visit family, and voices a poetic sensibility that her memory loss can dampen but not destroy. “A lyrical and lovingly made documentary.”— The New York Times. Followed by a Q&A with director Michelle Memran and Tony Kushner.
THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA
(Michael Chaves, USA, 2019, 93 min. In English)
In 1970s Los Angeles, the legendary ghost La Llorona is stalking the night – and the children. Ignoring the eerie warning of a troubled mother, a social worker and her own kids are drawn into a frightening supernatural realm. Their only hope of surviving La Llorona’s deadly wrath is a disillusioned priest who practices mysticism to keep evil at bay.