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This Week in Cinema Tropical, May 13-20

This week in New York, catch up with masters of Latin American cinema at two of the city’s most iconic arthouse and independent film theaters.

As part of their ‘Trilogies Festival,’ Film Forum will be screening back-to-back, and twice through, three of Lucrecia Martel’s most iconic films: La Ciénaga (2001), hailed as a “dank, humid meditation on rotting families” (Roger Ebert) and the “creeping social decay” (The New York Times) of Argentina’s bourgeois middle class; The Holy Girl (2004), praised by A.O. Scott as an “elusive, feverish and altogether amazing second feature…” (The New York Times) focused on similar topics of disrepair, repressed sexuality, and class; and The Headless Woman (2008), considered by the BBC as one of the best 100 films of the 21st century.

For a movie-watching experience like none other, head to Film Forum tomorrow Tuesday to immerse yourself fully in the heady, perspiring world of Martel.

To close off the week, Anthology Film Archives is thrilled to announce the theatrical release of Raul Ruiz‘ posthumously-finalized spoof on Latin American telenovela conventions, The Wandering Soap Opera, opening this Friday. Begun by the late Chilean master in 1990, The Wandering Soap Opera was recently completed by his widow and collaboratorValeria Sarmiento. 

Restored in partnership with Duke University, shot in gorgeous Super-16mm, and featuring one zany performance after another, The Wandering Soap Opera is Ruiz’ response to his native Chile after spending more than fifteen years away. Following the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, the telenovela was, Ruiz felt, perhaps the best lens through which to understand the economic and political realities of his mother country.

Don’t miss the chance to pay tribute to this master of experimental cinema with the last film in his oeuvre of more than one hundred.


‘WORKERS UNITE FILM FESTIVAL’

Through Thursday, May 23
Cinema Village and Public Employees Federation

Website

LISTEN TO MY SONG
(Danny Mitchell, Colombia/UK, 2018, 48 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Esteban escaped poverty in the ghetto when he was thirteen, by running away from home and joining the FARC guerrilla movement in Colombia.  With the peace process underway Esteban’s life changes when he performs at a Peace Concert and is spotted by a famous Colombian producer. When he is invited to perform in Bogotá, a career as a musician is beginning to look possible. However, he must first make his own peace with his past and reconnect with his family in Cali. If this is possible perhaps the country can also move on from its difficult history.
Monday, May 13, 6:30pm at Cinema Village

BORICUA: SHOUTING ON SUNSET PARK
(Victor Ribeiro, USA, 2017, 19 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Dennis Flores and El Grito de Sunset Park are voices of the resistance in the Latin New York, cop-watching and marching against police brutality.
Monday, May 13, 6:30pm at Cinema Village

BUENOS AIRES, THE CITY AT SLEEP
(Yamila Rotbart, Argentina, 2019, 50 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Every night, hundreds of people change their routine to do night work and fulfill the tasks necessary for the City of Buenos Aires to operate in the daytime.  This documentary shows the life story of these heroes of the night: how important their jobs are and how it is to live upside down from the rest of the population.
Monday, May 13, 8:30pm at Cinema Village

MARCH
(Ana Bovino, Argentina, 2018, 12 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Amidst Argentina’s economic crisis, the workers of a restaurant resume their activities after an unsuccessful strike in demand for a salary increase. Having no choice but to give up their struggle leaves them speechless, making the previous proximity to their boss impossible. In an atmosphere of impotence, the film explores the limits of human relationships when crossed through power hierarchies.
Monday, May 13, 8:30pm at Cinema Village

DON’T GIVE UP YOUR VOICE!
(Melissa Young and Mark Dworkin, Argentina, 2018, 40 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
This film is, at first glance, about Argentina but it is also about the United States. Argentina elected its Trump, Mauricio Macri, a year before we elected ours. The two are quite similar in the tone of their campaigns and the policies they are promoting once in office. But Argentines are resilient, and they have fought right wing governments before. Don’t Give Up Your Voice!looks at the widespread and creative resistance to Macri’s policies­— in organized labor, at worker coops, street protests, theater and music. The film offers instructive parallels with the situation in the U.S., while illustrating the power of collective action.
Monday, May 13, 8:30pm at Cinema Village

MADRIGAL FOR A LIVING  POET
(Adriana Barbosa, Bruno Mello Castanho, Brazil, 2018, 75 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
The life and personal philosophy of Tico, a gravedigger and writer from Brazil. A song to life, an aesthetic homage, a filmic reverie about work and life, memory, and the need to reinvent every day life and seek lost senses.
Tuesday, May 14, 4pm at Cinema Village

UNDETERRED 
(Eva Lewis, Mexico/USA, 2019, 76 min. IN Spanish and English with English subtitles)
The film uses interviews, animations, shots of the desert and daily life in this working class community to tell the story of the build up of militarized enforcement along the US/ Mexico border. It explores how this build up has affected and changed life in the community, and how local residents have organized to push back against these changes. Since NAFTA, 9/11 and the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations border residents have been on the front lines of a humanitarian crisis that has caused over 8,000 immigrant and refugee deaths. Undeterred is an intimate and unique portrait of how residents in a small rural community, caught in the cross hairs of global geo-political forces, have mobilized to respond to this crisis. The mission of the film is to inspire communities of conscience, especially other working class communities and be a reminder that even when dealing with overwhelming, appalling government policies, we are not powerless. More than anything, it is a love letter to the powerful border residents working, studying, living and organizing amidst the human tragedy of the border crisis.
Tuesday, May 14, 8:30pm at Cinema Village

DAD MILKS COWS IN TEXAS
(Ramón Galvan, USA, 2018, 8 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
In the mid 70s, Ramón Galván Palencia left his small town in Mexico for the United States. Over the next decade he crossed many of the borders separating the two countries in search of work. By the 1990s, he settled in Texas as a ranch hand on a dairy farm. “Dad Milks Cows in Texas” is a nonfiction portrait of a person that carries out the early morning work on a dairy farm. Together with cows and machinery, Ramón is a part of the process and routine of dairy work. He also happens to be the filmmaker’s dad.
Tuesday, May 14, 8:30pm at Cinema Village

DIVISION AVE
(Tamar Glezarman, USA, 2019, 14 min. In Spanish Yiddish and English with English subtitles)
A few days before Passover, Fernanda, a young Mexican woman, is hired by a Brooklyn cleaning agency to work in the local Jewish Hasidic community. Despite a prolonged wait for her payment, Fernanda continues to faithfully show up for work each day at Nechama’s house. An unexpected connection between the two leads to a fight for justice against the cleaning agency at fault, bridging the gaps between their very different worlds.
Wednesday, May 15, 4pm at Cinema Village

RESILIENCIA  
(Taina Asili, Puerto Rico/USA, 2018,32 min. In Spanish and English with English subtitles)
In January 2018, just four months after Hurricane Maria landed in Puerto Rico, Taina Asili travelled to the island to document the devastation and interview women about their experiences during and post hurricane. The 11 minute music video documentary Resiliencia features the composition Taina Asili created as inspired by this journey, blended with an interview with Yasmin Hernandez, an artist and mother residing in Moca, Puerto Rico. Resiliencia is a series of short documentaries inspired by stories of resilience Taína witnessed in interviews she conducted with women of color in various parts of the United states, Puerto Rico, and Canada over the course of several years. These stories, as well as her own, are born at the intersection of survival and reclamation of love and liberation. The Resiliencia documentary series accompanies an album by the same name which contains the compositions Taína Asili wrote to go along with each of the women’s stories.
Friday, May 17, 6pm at Public Employees Federation

COUNCILWOMAN
(Margo Guernsey, USA, 2019, 57 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Politicians aren’t often full-time hotel housekeepers, grandmothers, union members and immigrants working service jobs. But Carmen Castillo changes that when she wins a seat on the City Council in Providence, Rhode Island. Carmen Castillo is a Unite Here member, and Dominican City Councilwoman, who maintains her job cleaning hotel rooms as she takes on her new role in politics. She faces skeptics who say she doesn’t have the education to govern, the power of corporate interests who take a stand against her fight for a $15/hourly wage in the city, and a tough re-election against two contenders—all of this while balancing the challenges of managing a full-time job cleaning hotel rooms and a personal relationship. Her union sisters and brothers are with her every step of the way. It’s a journey behind the scenes of politics after the victory.
Friday, May 17, 6pm at Public Employees Federation

 

‘LUCRECIA MARTEL’S SALTA TRILOGY’

‘TRILOGIES FESTIVAL’

Tuesday, May 14 
Film Forum

Website

LA CIÉNAGA
(Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, 2001, 103 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
This Argentinean tale, which revolves around a group of families passing summer vacation in a rural country house, does not rely on a concrete plot line, but rather roves, rambles, and stumbles upon each new event. No event, no action, no exchange of words, no scene of the movie is more or less important than another. Instead, the film continues nonsequentially in what feels like a prolonged wait.
Tuesday, May 14, 12:30pm and 7:30pm

THE HOLY GIRL
(La niña santa, Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, 2004, 106 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Amalia (María Alche) is an adolescent girl who is caught in the throes of her emerging sexuality and her deeply held passion for her Catholic faith. These two drives mingle when the visiting Dr. Jano (Carlos Belloso) takes advantage of a crowd to get inappropriately close to the girl. Repulsed by him but inspired by an inner burning, Amalia decides it is her God-given mission to save the doctor from his behavior, and she begins to stalk Dr. Jano, becoming a most unusual voyeur.
Tuesday, May 14, 2:35pm and 9:35pm

THE HEADLESS WOMAN 
(La mujer sin cabeza, Lucrecia Martel, Argentina, 2008, 87 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
While driving down a deserted road, Veronica (María Onetto) hits something with her car as she struggles to answer her cell phone. After admitting to her husband, Marcos (César Bordón), that she thinks she may have killed someone, all traces of Veronica’s activities in the previous days begin to disappear. What ensues is a psychological exploration of an unfaithful wife whose unconscious battle with guilt begins to unravel not only her life but also her grip on reality.
Tuesday, May 14, 5:40pm

 

SILVESTRE PANTALEÓN

‘ARTE Y CULTURA: REVITALIZING THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN NYC’

Wednesday, May 15, 6pm
Lehman College

Website

(Roberto Olivares, Mexico, 2012, 65min. In Nahuatl with English subtitles)

A story of the daily struggle of an old man from the Nahuatl village of San Agustín Oapan, Guerrero, to get the necessary money to do a healing ceremony: lifting of shadow. To achieve this, Don Silvestre does the only thing he knows how to do and that perhaps only he does today: produce objects of both daily and religious use with maguey fiber and palm.

 

THE WANDERING SOAP OPERA

‘THEATRICAL RELEASE’

Opens Friday, May 17, 7pm
Anthology Film Archives

Website

(La telenovela errante, Raúl Ruiz and Valeria Sarmiento, Chile, 1990/2017, 80 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

Raúl Ruiz passed away in 2011, but it should come as little surprise that a filmmaker as mind-bogglingly prolific, subversive, and mischievous as Ruiz wouldn’t let that get in the way of releasing a new film. The footage that comprises The Wandering Soap Opera was the result of a 6-day workshop that Ruiz gave for actors and technicians in his native Chile in 1990, during his first return visit since his departure for France following Augusto Pinochet’s 1973 coup d’état. Restored and completed by Valeria Sarmiento—Ruiz’s wife and editor, and an accomplished filmmaker in her own right—The Wandering Soap Operaturns out to be far more than a curiosity. Its status as Ruiz’s first post-dictatorship Chilean film would alone qualify it as an important film within his vast oeuvre (Ruiz made more than 100 films over the course of his career), but above and beyond that historical significance it proves to be a typically dazzling and inventive work that embeds a penetrating portrait of a society transfigured by the effects of almost 20 years of a repressive dictatorship into the form of a Borgesian parody of telenovela conventions. The Wandering Soap Opera contains passages that are as deadpan funny and astonishingly resourceful as anything in Ruiz’s body of work, while Sarmiento’s elegant assemblage (she bookends Ruiz’s own material with footage of him leading the workshop) renders the final product a moving tribute to an extraordinary filmmaker for whom even a hundred films wasn’t enough.

 

THE RIVER AND THE WALL

‘THEATRICAL RELEASE’

Now Playing
AMC Empire 25

Website

(Ben Masters, Mexico/USA, 2019, 97 min. In English)

Three Texans, a New York ornithologist, and a Brazilian immigrant embark on a 1,200 mile mountain bike, horse, and canoe journey down the Rio Grande to document the US-Mexico border before construction of a border wall and to explore its impacts on immigration, public lands, wildlife, landowners, and border security.  Directed by Ben Masters (Unbranded) and produced by Hillary Pierce (Tower), the SXSW award-winning documentary takes audiences on an unforgettable, hilarious, and gorgeous adventure down one of the most controversial, and often misunderstood, regions in the world: The U.S.-Mexico border.  During the three month journey, the team meets with R-Congressman Will Hurd, former D-Congressman Beto O’Rourke, immigrants, border patrol agents, wildlife biologists, ranchers, farmers, and folks on both sides of the border to see for themselves where a physical border wall would actually go and what effects it would have

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY FILM
FESTIVAL

Thursday, May 16 – Monday, May 20
Film at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theatre

Website

THE CATCH
(Thais Drassinower, Perú, 2019, 16 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
The trust between a couple of trapeze artists is threatened before the most important performance of their career.
Friday, May 17, 7:30PM

LA SALVADORA
(Jeremy Kotin, USA, 2019, 11 min. In Spanish and English with English subtitles)
When undocumented immigrant, Sofia, faces a proposal from a man she doesn’t love, her daughter, Isa, takes matters into her own hands to protect her mom.
Saturday, May 18, 1 pm

SILENTO
(Esteban Garcia Vernaza, Colombia, 2019, 11 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
In the beginnings of the 1950s Colombian civil war, a girl must protect her little sister as an armed group invades their farm.
Saturday, May 18, 5 pm

ASÍ EN LA TIERRA
(Joel Vázquez Cárdenas, Mexico, 2019, 23 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
After losing his harvest when a meteorite crashes on his farm, Salvador Huerta conspires with the local priest to profit from the townspeople’s faith by pretending that the space rock has holy powers.
Saturday, May 18, 7 pm

ALAMAR

‘FAMILY MATINEES’

Saturday, May 18, 12pm
Museum of the Moving Image

Website

(Pedro Gonzalez Rubio, Mexico, 2009, 73 min. In Spanish and Italian with English subtitles)

Five-year-old Natan goes with his father, Jorge, on an expedition to Banco Chinchorro, the largest coral reef in Mexico. There he experiences life in harmony with nature, staying in a house on stilts above the water, catching barracuda and other fish on baited lines thrown from a boat, observing as his father and “grandfather” (Jorge’s older mentor) go spearfishing and lobster catching. He also encounters crocodiles—but is not afraid—and makes friends with a feisty wild egret, a migratory bird, that he names Blanquita. With just a few weeks before Natan goes back to Italy to live with his mother, Jorge is intent on teaching his son about their Mayan heritage, and the rhythms of a fisherman’s life. Alamarcaptures the pristine beauty of the Quintana Roo coast and the strong, affectionate bond between father and son.

 

DECADE OF FIRE

‘THEATRICAL RELEASE’

Now Playing
Metrograph

Website

(Gretchen Hildebran and Vivian Vázquez, USA, 2018, 76 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)

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 Vázquez’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.

 

THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA

‘THEATRICAL RELEASE’

Now Playing
Select Theaters

Website

(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.

 

EL CHICANO

‘THEATRICAL RELEASE’

Now Playing
Select Theaters

Website

(Ben Hernandez Bray and Joe Carnahan, USA,  2019, 142 min. In English)

When LAPD Detective Diego Hernandez is assigned a career-making case investigating a vicious cartel, he uncovers links to his brother’s supposed suicide and a turf battle that’s about to swallow his neighborhood. Torn between playing by the book and seeking justice, he resurrects the masked street legend El Chicano. Now, out to take down his childhood buddy turned gang boss, he sets off a bloody war to defend his city and avenge his brother’s murder.

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