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What to Watch This Week on Cinema Tropical

This week marks the start of the 32nd Edition of NewFest, New York’s LGBTQ+ Film Festival. In this year’s online edition, NewFest is featuring twelve Latin American titles with a strong emphasis on Brazilian and Chilean LGBTQ+ narratives. All films will be available to stream from Friday, October 16 through Tuesday, October 27.

From Brazil, Alice Júnior by Gil Baroni is a one-of-a-kind charmer that tells the story of a transgender teenage social media star forced to leave her hometown of Recife for a small conservative town in the south. High-spirited and colorful, Alice Júnior celebrates the rebelliousness of youth and the potential for future generations to rethink outdated perspectives of gender and sexuality.

From Chile and with a more delicate and tender tone, the debut feature by Nicol Ruiz BenavidesForgotten Roads follows Claudia, a 70-year old woman who, after the death of her husband, engages in a budding romance with her daughter’s neighbor who moonlights as a gay lounge singer.

Premiering This Week:

Latin American Films at the 32nd Edition of NewFest:

FORGOTTEN ROADS
(La nave del olvido, Nicol Ruiz Benavides, Chile , 2020, 71 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Streaming October 16 – 27

ALICE JÚNIOR
(Gil Baroni, Brazil, 2019, 87 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
Streaming October 16 – 27

YOUR MOTHER’S COMFORT
(Aconchego da Tua Mãe, Adam Golub, Brazil, USA, 2020, 75 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
Streaming October 16 – 27

DRY WIND
(Vento Seco, Daniel Nolasco, Brazil, 2020, 110 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
Streaming October 16 – 27

THE STRONG ONES
(Los fuertes, Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo, Chile, 2019, 98 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Streaming October 16 – 27

Short Films:
BREAKWATER
(Cris Lyra, Brazil, 2019, 26 min.)
CARO COMES OUT
(Brit Fryer and Caro Hernandez, USA, 2020, 12 min.)
PLUS
(Andrew J. Rodriguez, USA, 2019, 14 min.)
SCREENSHOTS FOR A GOODBYE
(Ruth Caudeli, Colombia, 2020, 10 min.)
SHÉÁR AVORY: TO BE CONTINUED
(Abram Cerda, USA, 2020, 26 min.)
THE SECRET GARDENER
(Lorena Russi, USA, 2019, 3 min.)
WAKING HOUR
(Nava Mau, USA, 2019, 13 min.)
All Short Films Streaming October 16 – 27

VOD and DVD Release:
THE WOLF HOUSE

(Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña, Chile, 2018, 73 min. In Spanish and German with English subtitles)

Maria, a young woman finds refuge in a house in the south of Chile after escaping from a sect of German religious fanatics. She is welcomed into the home by two pigs, the only inhabitants of the place. Like in a dream, the universe of the house reacts to Maria’s feelings. The animals transform slowly into humans and the house becomes a nightmarish world. Inspired on the actual case of Colonia Dignidad, “The Wolf House” masquerades as an animated fairy tale produced by the leader of the sect in order to indoctrinate its followers.

Premieres on VOD and DVD Tuesday, October 13

Broadcast Premiere:
THE INFILTRATORS

(Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera, USA, 2020, 90 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)

The Infiltrators is a docu-thriller that tells the true story of two young immigrants who get detained by Border Patrol—on purpose—and put in a shadowy for-profit detention center. Marco and Viri are members of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, a group of radical Dreamers who are on a mission to stop deportations. And the best place to stop deportations, they believe, is in detention.

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Daily Recommendation:
BOY AND THE WORLD

(O Menino e o Mundo, Alê Abreu, Brazil, 2013, 80 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)

Brazilian artist Alê Abreu’s Academy Award-nominated masterpiece is a riotous explosion of music and color, a breathtakingly original and vibrant cinematic experience that depicts the wonders and struggles of the modern world as seen through the eyes of a young boy. Cuca’s cozy rural life is shattered when his father leaves for the city, prompting him to embark on a quest to reunite his family. The young boy’s journey unfolds like a tapestry, the animation taking on greater complexity as his small world expands. Entering civilization, industrial landscapes are inhabited by animal-machines, with barrios of decoupage streets and shop windows and flashing neon advertisements that illuminate the night. The story depicts a clash between village and city, hand crafted and mechanized, rich and poor – and throughout the tumult, the heart and soul of the people beats on as a song.

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Daily Recommendation:
I DREAM IN ANOTHER LANGUAGE

(Sueño en otro idioma, Ernesto Contreras, Mexico/Netherlands, 2016, 101 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

Martin arrives in a remote Mexican village to record a dying, ancient indigenous language. He finds the last two speakers of the language, but they refuse to speak to each other because of a 50 year grudge. Martin learns the surly Evaristo got into a fight with Isauro because they fell in love with the same woman. Now widowed, Evaristo continues to bitterly avoid the ailing Isauro. Martin and Evaristo’s granddaughter, Lluvia, work to convince the men to reconcile. Perplexed by their intensity when they meet, Martin realizes there is more to the story, and Lluvia finally reveals the secret behind the men’s entanglement. As Isauro’s health declines, Evaristo struggles to come to terms with his feelings, and strange bird calls from deep inside the jungle begin to stir, evoking the mythical origin of their ancestors. Distinctly enigmatic in tone, permeating the vibrations of the jungle’s enchantment through sound and cinematography, writer and director duo the Contreras brothers imaginatively use language and metaphor, and eternity over history to weave an unexpected and transcendental love story.

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Daily Recommendation:
THE HOLY MOUNTAIN

(La montaña sagrada, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Mexico, 1973, 114 min. In English)

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.

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58th New York Film Festival:
TRAGIC JUNGLE 

(Selva trágica, Yulene Olaizola, Mexico, 2020, 96 min. In English, Creole, Maya, and Spanish with English subtitles)

In her accomplished fifth feature, Mexican filmmaker Olaizola immerses the viewer in a richly drawn, tactile experience that works as both a gripping adventure and a contemplative rumination on the brutality and splendor of nature. Set in the 1920s in the deep thickets of a Mayan tropical rainforest along the Rio Hondo—then the border between Mexico and British Honduras, now Belize—Tragic Jungle follows Agnes (Indira Andrewin), a young woman trying desperately to escape with her sister from the white British landowner she doesn’t want to marry. With the man armed and on her trail, she barely gets away, and is discovered by a troupe of chicleros—gum tree workers—who become both her rescuers and captors. Vibrantly shot by cinematographer Sofia Oggioni, Olaizola’s film becomes an entirely unexpected story of myth and superstition, in which the jungle itself seems like a living being, taking natural revenge on the men whose petty inhumanities bloody its trunks and vines.

Streaming through October 14

Broadcast Premiere:
LATINO VOTE: DISPATCHES FROM THE BATTLEGROUND

(Bernardo Ruiz, USA, 2020, 60 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)

With both younger Latinos and new citizens joining the ranks of registered voters across the country, the growing magnitude of this cross-section of the electorate has clear political implications for the 2020 presidential election. But trying to woo voters based on their cultural similarities without factoring in their complex and varying individual interests could prove to be a losing game plan. Following activists, organizers, and others who are working to maximize Latino turnout in their local communities while simultaneously devoting their efforts to COVID-19 relief as the pandemic surges, Latino Vote: Dispatches from the Battleground delves into the high-stakes fight to activate Latino votes in these battleground states – and gives voice to newly registered Latino voters themselves about what the galvanizing issues are for them.

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Daily Recommendation:
LINA FROM LIMA

(Lina de Lima, María Paz González, Chile/Argentina/Peru, 2019, 83 min. In Spanish, Quechua, and Hait-ian Creole with English subtitles)

The issue of migrant labor gets a winningly light touch in this musical comedy—and debut fiction film—from documentarian María Paz González, about a Peruvian woman working as a domestic helper for a wealthy Chilean family who prepares for a trip home to visit the son she left behind. At once a delightful renovation of the musical comedy and a timely examination of the realities of migrant labour, the inventive debut fiction feature from Chilean director María Paz González tackles weighty themes with a light touch and a saucy sense of humor.

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Daily Recommendation:
SIDEWALLS 

(Medianeras, Gustavo Taretto, Argentina/Germany/Spain, 2011, 96 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

How does architecture condition the lives of people living in the city? Mariana and Martin are two lonely souls who have a lot in common and live on the same block, but somehow never meet.  With this clever romantic comedy, Taretto pays homage to the city of Buenos Aires as he reflects on how urban chaos, as well as new technologies, can unite people but also keep them apart (as the sidewalls of the title).  Mixing animation, photography and graphic art he reveals the characters’ isolation and anxieties that are a staple of modern life in a noisy city that nonetheless has an irresistible charm.

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Daily Recommendation:
YOUNG & WILD

(Joven y alocada, Marialy Rivas, Chile, 2012, 96 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)

Seventeen-year-old Daniela is obsessed with sex. But her self-proclaimed “pussy in flames” is in direct conflict with her well-to-do, strict evangelical family in Santiago, Chile. She finds an outlet by detailing her naughty ruminations and exploits on her blog “Young & Wild” to her eager online followers. She dates handsome and pious Tomas, but maybe Antonia, the really cute girl at work is more her speed. As she struggles to balance both relationships, Daniela learns that having it all—sex, love and eternal salvation—is more complicated than she ever imagined. Marialy Rivas masterfully directs her first feature, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where Rivas and co-writer Camila Gutiérrez (whose life the film is based on) picked up the World Cinema Screenwriting Award. Rooted in a fearless and unforgettable performance by Alicia Rodríguez, Young & Wild is a stunning, energetic look at family and youth culture in contemporary Chile.

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

Coinciding with the second half of Hispanic Heritage Month, October brings eleven 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!

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