San Sebastian: Horizontes Latinos Selects ’The Moneychanger,’ ‘Spider,’ ‘Chicuarotes’

MADRID —   Frederico Veiroj’s “The Moneychanger,” Andrés Wood’s “Spider” and Gael García Bernal’s “Chicuarotes” will play in San Sebastian’s Horizontes Latinos, the Spanish Festival’s most important sidebar, along with its New Directors strand, and a virtual best of the fests titles of Latin American movies with standout at Sundance in particular, plus Berlin, Cannes, Venice and no doubt the upcoming Toronto.

“Spider” will have its European Premiere at San Sebastian.

Bookended by Patricio Guzman’s “The Cordillera of Dreams” and “La Llorona,” the latest from Jayro Bustamante, whose “Tremors” also makes the Horizontes Latinos cut, the section also captures key trends forging Latin America’s new landscape of Latin American movies.

Mined and prized by major festivals, Latin America has yet to go off the boil. The big prizes are going ever more, however, to lesser-known talents. Alejandro Landes’ “Monos” won a Sundance World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award, Lucía Garibaldi’s first feature, “The Sharks” its best director award. Cesar Díaz’s “Our Mothers” walked off with Cannes’ Camera d’Or.

Having made three, four or five features, often now bulwarked by multi-lateral co-production, more established Latin American directors continue to make moves towards the mainstream, stepping up in scale. Part-period, though it views the past from the point of view of its interest for the present, Wood’s “Spider” will be released on 70-plus copies, a large copy spread for its native Chile. Multi-period “The Moneychanger” features biblical operetta, and Uruguay’s Montevideo from the ‘50s through to its ‘70s dictatorship, when the film’s anti-hero money -launderer makes his first killing, exporting the government’s ill-gotten gains to safer offshore havens.

Partnering Colombia, Argentina, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Uruguay,“Monos” sees director Alejandro Landes segue from 2011’s “Porfirio,” a minimalist semi-docu tale of a paralyzed man, to an on-the.move survivalist thriller set in vast mountains and jungle.

Thanks to international co-production eight of the 15 movies in Horizontes Latinos are Argentine, though only three directed by Argentine directors.

Above all, this year’s Horizontes Latino’s lineup is sluiced by violence.“Our Mothers” may be one of the few fiction features to look at the horrors of the genocide perpetrated by the U.S.-backed military against the indigenous population in Guatemala, Jay Weissberg suggested in his Variety review.

One of the main issues or ways into “Chicuarotes” is the open question of where violence comes from, García Bernal told Variety at Cannes.Other titles explore  “La Llorona” is a half domestic ghost story, half damning historical reconstruction of Guatemala’s same Civil War explored in “Our Mothers.” “The Sleepwalkers” portrays family as a conduit for patriarcal pathology. There’s a teasing sense of pathology even in “The Sharks” as a teen girl wrestles with her budding sexuality.

In all, 11 of the 15 Horizontes Latinos titles turn or touch on violence, its multiple causes, ghastly practice and haunting legacy. It now ranks as one of Latin American cinema’s central themes.

Here’s a drill down on Horizonres Latinos’ 15 selected titles:

AGAIN ONCE AGAIN,’ (Romina Paula, Argentina, )

Directed by and starring playwright-actress Paula, and world premiering in Rotterdam’s Bright Future, an autobiographical account of a single mother’s attempt to discover a sense of identity which goes beyond motherhood.

AUGUST’ (Armando Capo, Cuba, Costa Rica, France)

Loaded  by development awards, Cuban Armando Capo’s “August,”which won him an Egeda Prize at San Sebastian’s 2014 Co-production Forum and a Sundance’s 2017 Global Filmmaker Award, is a coming-of-age-tale set in a 1994 Cuba wracked by food and energy shortages and escapee rafters.

‘LA BRONCA,’ (Diego Vega, Daniel Vega, Peru, Colombia)

The latest from two of Perú preeminent art filmmakers, Cannes Un Certain Regard and Locarno best actor winners for “October” and “El Mudo.” Set in 1992 upper middle-class Montreal, an estranged Peruvian father-son drama chronicling a relationship marked for ever by an act of violence.

‘CHICUAROTES,’ (Gael García Bernal, Mexico)

A genre blender—  tragic crime farce, family melodrama and coming of age drama, turning on two kids hair-brained scheme to buy a ticket out of Mexico City barrio San Gregorio, its poverty, violence.

‘THE CORDILLERA OF DREAMS’ (Patricio Guzmán, Chile)

Guzman’s “Cordillera,” about how Chile’s massive Andean wall has helped forge its national psyche, completes maybe the biggest achievement in  modern Latin American documentary: Guzman’s trilogy begun with “Nostalgia for the Light” and then “The Pearl Button.”

‘LA LLORONA,’ (Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala, France)

Starring the female leads – Maria Mercedes Caroy, María Telón – of Bustamante’s Berlin awarded debut “Ixcanul,” which first attracted notice at San Sebastian’s 2015 Films in Progress, “La Llorona” recasts the original Llorona myth in a story which starts during Guatemala’s Civil War, then resumes 30 years later as a general tried for genocide gets a new housemaid.

‘THE MONEYCHANGER’ (Federico Veiroj, Uruguay, Argentina, Germany)

Shot through by his hallmark humor, Veiroj’s period thriller features Daniel Handler as an unprincipled money launderer, working 1975 Montevideo anarchic money markets whose life soars to ever new heights of wealth, baseness, emptiness and danger.

‘MONOS,’ (Alejandro Landes (Colombia, Argentina, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Uruguay)

“Lord of the Flies with guerrilla warfare,’ said Indie Wire, “‘Apocalypse Now’ on Shrooms,” wrote The Guardian, as a crazed teen guerrilla cult goes rogue in the vast South American jungle. A critics’ favorite at Berlin.

‘OUR MOTHERS’ (César Díaz, France, Belgium, Guatemala)

A forensics anthropologist searches for clues to  his father’s disappearance in Guatemala’s 1980s holocaust come Civil War. A Cannes Critics’ Week Player.

‘THE PRINCE,’ (Sebastián Muñoz, Chile, Argentina, Belgium)

A ‘70s-set homoerotic prison drama, Sebastian Muñoz’s “The Prince” tracks the sexual, often-violent and eventually murderous experiences of 20-something narcissist Jaime.

‘QUE SEA LEY,’ (Juan Solanas, Argentina)

A Cannes Festival Special Screening, a chronicle of the nationwide campaign last year in Argentina to persuade its upper-house to legalize abortion.

‘THE SLEEPWALKERS,’ (Paula Hernández, Argentina, Uruguay)

Starring Eric Rivas, “Wild Tales’” memorable wronged bride, directed by Paula Hernández , and produced by Juan Pablo Miller’s Tarea Fina (“Las Acacias,” “Good Intentions”), a withering analysis of an extended family corroded by disavowal and patriarchy, as it celebrates New Year’s Eve on  country estate in the dog days of August.

‘THE SHARKS,’ (Lucía Garibaldi, Uruguay, Argentina, Spain)

San Sebastian’s top Films in Progress title and Sundance best director winner. Lone teen Rosina reacts to simmering adolescent desire strewing chaos through her sleepy coastal town.

‘SPIDER,’ (Andrés Wood, Chile, Argentina, Brazil)

“Spider,” begins in 1973 as three extreme-right Fatherland and Liberty members commit an assassination, cuts to modern-day Chile: as two, a couple, are now prestigious members of Chile’s professional classes, until the third, whom they betrayed, reappears.

‘TREMORS’ (Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala, France, Luxembourg)

The first, chronological of Bustamante’s two films this year. Glowingly reviewed off Berlin – Bustamante “doesn’t ask new questions, but its sensuous, reverberating atmospherics find fresh, angry ways to answer them,” said Variety’s Guy Lodge- , the chronicle of an evangelical Christian who falls in love with another man, as his wife determines to help  him get “cured.”

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