Ignacio Juricic’s “Enigma,” Natalia Cabral and Oriol Estrada’s “Miriam Lies,” and Juan Caceres’ “Perro Bomba” will screen at the 12th Guadalajara Construye, the Mexican festival’s pix-in-post competition which screens seven titles that reflect in one way or another on Latin American realities.
In that way, they conform to the grand tradition of the region’s cinemas. But, reflecting one development in Latin American cinema this century, many of the titles look to be as interested in psychological observation as social commentary, and all the better for it.
“Enigma,” the awaited debut feature of Chile’s Ignacio Juricic, whose 2015 short “Lost Queens” won a Cannes Festival Queer Palme, tracks Nancy, a middle-aged hairdresser, as she debates whether to go on a cold case TV show which may throw light on the night, 10 years prior, when her daughter was beaten to death after leaving a gay club. It is a murder-mystery, yes, but from early scenes seen, far more a study of identity, of how people become the persons they are, as Nancy’s huge brood of daughters and friends cooped up in a cramped family apartment learn deeply conservative habits and hypocrisy from their aunt or one another. And Nancy, who didn’t even know her daughter was a lesbian, slowly makes an decision, moved by huge hurt, which will define her for life.
Produced by Faula Films and Catalan veteran Paco Poch’s Mallerich Films, “Miriam Lies” marks a further addition to Dominican Republic’s burgeoning festival-apt cinema, lifted into that category by its broad social point. The story is an anecdote of near neo-realist simplicity: As she prepares her Quiceañera, 14-year-old Miriam won’t admit that her internet boyfriend Jean-Louis is Dominican, working class, and black. Not the blue-eyed son of the French Cultural Attaché, as her mother fondly imagines.
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A sweetly acid put-down of a racist, classist, hypocritical petit-bourgeoisie – if Miriam lies, near everybody else dissembles as well – the feature debut screened at Ventana Sur’s Primer Corte films-in-rough-cut showcase where it was liked by fest execs, drawing sales agent heat.
Supported by Pablo Larraín regular Alfredo Castro, “Perro Bomba,” the feature debut of Chile’s Juan Caceres, joins a even more distinguished cannon: Chilean art films, such as this week’s Academy Award winner “A Fantastic Woman,” which take a large swipe at the arcane institutions, practices, privileges and mindsets of modern-day Chile.
Here, the target is the bigoted racism of Chile’s working classes and legislation born under Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship which fails to accommodate the maybe half a million immigrants now living in Chile. It tracking the trials and tribulations of Steevens, an intelligent, get-ahead black Haitian immigrant looking to keep his nose to the grindstone in order to snag a residence permit. Taunted too far by Federico (Castro), a holier-than-though construction foreman, he takes a swipe at the Chilean which begins his odyssey towards the status of lawless outsider who only receives real respect from a trio of junkie car-washers.
In Mexican Gabriela Ivette Sandoval’s “O.K., Esta bien,” Mexico City plays proxy for Manhattan in a homage to Woody Allen where a knocking-30 taco-stuffing film buff dork, who’s spent six years after university building up to write a screenplay, falls for a near-15-year-old g.f of his cousin.
“Charm” reunites co-director Juan Sasiaín and star Ezequiel Tronconi of “La Tigra, Chaco,” with Tronconi co-directing with Sasián and starring. But it moves action on from ““Tigra’s” first love to (a very male) midlife crisis. It revolves around knocking-40 Bruno who has a wonderful partner, Julia, a TV chef, sensitive, fun, and empathetic. But when she wants them to have a child, his reaction is to have one last fling. The midlife crisis is very familiar, the setting and professions, for Argentine cinema, are not: a Hampstead-like Buenos Aires, – parks, chintzy children’s shops, a River Plate bungalow, or the protagonist profession as a wine merchant. Clothes and decor are to die for.
“Triz” is the feature debut of longtime Brazilian cinematographer André Carvalheira who has worked on more than 40 features in that capacity and directed four shorts of his own. The film is produced by Alisson Lopes Machado at Brazil’s Machado Filmes.
It follows a young and successful architect, Augusto, as he works to fulfill his dream of building a new community in a neighborhood of Brazilia. A gated community taken to an extreme, Augusto wants the inhabitants to live free from the social problems affecting the rest of the city. Unfortunately for Augusto, pre-existing social relationships in the area threaten to undermine his best-laid plans.
Another first feature, social justice drama “Guiexhuba” sees director Sabrina Muhate’s teaming with Agustín Moisés Buendía at Mexico’s Fundacion Excellentiam, who is producing. In the film, the titular Guiexhuba lives in the indigenous Oaxaca town of Juchitán de Zaragoza with her sister Carmen. When European interests move in looking to exploit the native people and their territory, employing the local Don, a ranking politician and the village holyman, the sisters refuse to give up what is rightfully theirs, sinking their roots even deeper into their ancestral home.
This year’s jury features professionals from a wide range of nationalities and positions. Gabriela Sandoval, director of industry at Chile’s Sanfic Festival; Sevillian producer-director Gervasio Iglesias; Giulia C. Braga, the Italian program manager of the World Bank Group’s Connect4Climate; and Mexican producers Inna Payán (“La jaula de oro”) and Leonardo Zimbrón (“Club of Crows”) will decide which works in progress will take home prizes from this year’s Guadalajara Construye.
GUADALAJARA CONSTRUYE, 2018, MARCH 10-11
“Charm” (Juan Pablo Sasiaín Huertas, Ezequiel Tronconi, Argentina)
“Enigma,” (Sam Ignacio Juricic Merillán, Chile)
“Guiexhuba,” (Sabrina Muhate, Mexico)
“Miriam Lies,” (Natalia Cabral, Oriol Estrada, Dominican Republic)
“Ok, está bien,” (Gabriela Ivette Sandoval Torres, Mexico)
“Perro Bomba,” (Juan Caceres, Chile)
“Triz,” (André Carvalheira, Brasil)