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What to Watch Online This Week On Cinema Tropical

The 58th edition of the New York Film Festival has kicked off, bringing with it a roster of narrative features and shorts that exemplify the diversity of Latin American cinema today. The festival will be presenting a combination of drive-in screenings alongside online streaming options for those watching from home. This year, keep your eyes out for acclaimed films from Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil and Chile.

Some Latin American highlights include Matías Piñeiro‘s IsabellaYulene Olaizola‘s Tragic JungleRául Ruiz and Valeria Sarmiento‘s The Tango of the Widower and its Distorting Mirror, and Nicolás Pereda‘s Fauna.

And this Friday, September 26, Cinema Tropical is pleased to co-present the Dominican film Malpaso by Héctor M. Valdez as part of this year’s Urbanworld Film Festival. Rendered in piercing black and white, Malpaso follows fraternal twins Candido and Braulio as they navigate life after the death of their grandfather—a pursuit complicated by local prejudice against one of the boy’s albinism.

Premiering This Week:

Urbanworld Film Fesival:

(Hector M. Valdéz, Dominican Republic, 2019, 80 min. In Haitian and Spanish with English subtitles)

After their grandfather dies, twin brothers struggle to find their way in the world, complicated by prejudice against one boy’s albinism. Candido and Braulio are fraternal twins growing up in the border town of Malpaso, Jimani, right across the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Growing up orphaned, Braulio helps his grandfather sell coal in the market while Candido stays in their secluded home due to his albinism. Their life takes a turn for the worse after the unexpected demise of their grandfather. Now Braulio will need to look after his brother and both will attempt to make ends meet in the border town market. All the while, Candido dreams of the eventual return of their estranged father.

Streaming September 26

Daily Recommendation:

(Luis Ortega, Argentina, Spain, 2018, 114 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

Carlitos’ blond curls and angelic blue eyes belie a confused and violent soul. From a young age, he has stolen just because he can. It’s a fascination he cannot shake, much to the chagrin of his loving and upstanding parents (Cécilia Roth and Luis Gnecco). When he meets Ramon (Chino Darín), the son of career criminals, the attraction he feels causes him to up the ante and engage in more serious criminal activity. Soon, the young men are killing. Splendidly paced and gorgeously photographed, El Ángel is a departure from the sparser nature of Ortega’s previous films, yet his attraction to outlaws remains. As we follow Carlitos (Lorenzo Ferro) on his stealing and killing sprees, we see there’s something almost innocent in his approach, as though he believes his actions don’t carry real, permanent consequences. Through this turbulent and confusing character, Ortega offers a meaningful reflection on how violence is glamourized on the screen

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Daily Recommendation:

(Paz Fábrega, Costa Rica, 2015, 70 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

After meeting at a party, Luciana and Pedro spark up a spontaneous rendezvous. Eschewing the fraudulent nature of traditional relationships, the pair embarks on a spur of the moment journey together that takes them to the forest. As they explore the beauty in the nature that surrounds them, they camp out under the stars, go on hikes, indulge in the passions of their encounter, and discuss their personal beliefs surrounding love, obligations, and attraction. Lensed in lush black-and-white cinematography amidst the gorgeous backdrop of the Costa Rican forest, an honest and genuine relationship story unfolds, lending a feeling of realism to their storybook romance in a refreshing and youthful way. This is a story about attraction and commitment for a generation whose understandings of personal freedoms and traditional limitations are more open to interpretation.

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U.S. Latinx and Latin American Film Festivals: September 2020

Coinciding with Hispanic Heritage Month, September brings nine Latinx and Latin American virtual film festivals offering hundreds of recent films to American audiences. Some of the film selections are are available to stream across the country, while others are geoblocked to the festival’s state boundaries. In addition to the online screening, some of these events are also presenting outdoor screenings, plus conversations with the guest directors and panels. Check them out!

More Information

VOD Release:

(Gustavo Sánchez, Spain, 2018, 75 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)

New York, 2007-2017. Over a decade, the director delves into the private world of Amanda Lepore, Chloe Dzubilo, Sophia Lamar and T De Long; four artists and transgender activists from the city’s underground scene. Little by little, their testimonies reveal fragments of a past –sometimes dramatic, always fascinating and simply extraordinary– that formed their identities and transformed their lives. Their words, fears and hopes take the audience from an outsider’s point of view to being emotionally invested in their destiny.

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Films Available to Stream Now:

Latin American Films at the 58th New York Film Festival:

(Nicolás Pereda, Mexico/Canada, 2020, 75 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Streaming through Thursday, September 24

(Nicolás Zukerfeld, Argentina, 2020, 63. min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Streaming September 25 – 30

(El tango del viudo y su espejo deformante, Raúl Ruiz and Valeria Sarmiento, Chile, 2020, 64 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Streaming September 23 – 28

(Matías Piñeiro, Argentina, 2020, 80 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Streaming September 24 – 29Drive-in Screening on September 24

‘Program 3: Letters From Home’
MALEMBE (Luis Arnías, 2020, Venezuela/USA, 12min.)
NOTES, IMPRINTS (ON LOVE): PART 1 (Alexandra Cuesta, 2020, USA/Ecuador, 19 min.)
CORRESPONDENCE (Carla Simón and Dominga Sotomayor, 2020, Spain/Chile, 20 min.)
Streaming September 25 – 30

Daily Recommendation:

(Matar a un hombre, Alejandro Fernández Almendras, Chile, 2014, 81 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

Alejandro Fernández Almendras’ fascinating third film is based on a true story, making the unthinkable plausible. A subtle, yet impressive, psychological revenge thriller. When their rundown neighborhood is terrorized by a tyrannical delinquent and his gang, home doesn’t feel safe anymore. Gentle forester Jorge stoically undergoes the mindless teasing, but his young adult son, frustrated by so much pacifism and passivity, argues back counter-productively. The family is driven crazy when threats are addressed to Jorge’s wife and beautiful teenage daughter. Tortured contemplation in his huge jungle workspace makes Jorge realise there is only one way out. Almendras has succeeded fabulously in conveying what feelings of powerlessness and the fear and anger that slowly drive you mad do to a person. Not about murder, but about what it is like To Kill a Man.

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Daily Recommendation:

(Conducta, Ernesto Daranas, Cuba, 2014, 108 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

Eleven-year-old Chala lives with his addict mother Sonia. In order to provide for the two of them, he raises carrier pigeons and trains fighting dogs with a man who may or may not be his biological father. School provides a stabilizing force in Chala’s life, thanks to his close relationship with his spirited sixty-something teacher, Carmela. When the boy is sent off to live in a «re-education facility» and Carmela mounts a campaign to have him released, she becomes the target of a witch hunt spearheaded by a school board administrator who regards Carmela’s permissive beliefs as incongruent with the new Cuba. But the idealistic, strong-willed woman remains defiant and manages to recruit allies from amongst her fellow teachers, leading to a conflict in which one boy’s future reflects the systemic dynamics of contemporary Cuba.

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VOD Release:

(Maite Alberdi, Chile/USA/Germany/ Spain, 2020, 90 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

Sergio is a Chilean spy. Sort of. At least, he is offered the role of one after a casting session organized by Detective Romulo, a private investigator who needs a credible mole to infiltrate a retirement home. Romulo’s client, the concerned daughter of a resident, suspects her mother is being abused and hires him to find out what is really happening. However, Sergio is 83, not 007, and not an easy trainee when it comes to technology and spying techniques. But he is a keen student, looking for ways to distract himself after recently losing his wife. What could be a better distraction than some undercover spy action? While gathering intelligence, Sergio grows close to several residents and realizes that the menacing truth beneath the surface is not what anyone had suspected.

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Virtual Theatrical and VOD Release:

(Flavio Alves, USA/Brazil, 2019, 88 min. In Spanish and English with English subtitles)

The Garden Left Behind tells the story of Tina (Carlie Guevara in a breakthrough performance), a young Mexican trans woman who lives with her grandmother Eliana (Miriam Cruz) in New York City as she navigates her transition and the pair struggle to build a life for themselves as undocumented immigrants. As Tina begins the process of transitioning, Eliana struggles to understand Tina and fears that their life together in America is no longer what they bargained for. Tina finds camaraderie in a small but mighty transgender advocate group but soon ends up having to fight for the life that she’s meant to live—facing violent threats, seemingly insurmountable medical costs, questions about her legal immigration status, and increasing skepticism from the man she loves. As she begins to lose all hope, Tina has unknowingly become the only hope for a shy young man who has been watching her closely from afar.

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