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Three Latin Sensations at Brooklyn Film Festival 2020

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By Roger Costa

MACABRE

After a deadly operation gone wrong, a sergeant is sent on a gruesome investigation in the outskirts of Rio, where two brothers are being chased for their necrophilia crimes. As they collect the villagers’ testimonies and experiences with fear and murderous threat, they unveil hidden secrets from the past, ambiguously connecting the residents, the suspects, the victims and their well-known racial conflicts. Blending horror, suspense and drama, director Marcos Prado crafts a sumptuously shot, enigmatic puzzle with convincing results and absorbing Gothic techniques. Its glamorous, haunting visual enhances the film as a work of grand bravura. Based on true events that shocked the nation back in the 90’s, it’s a seductive and precisely bizarre serial killer hunt-tale.

BEFORE OBLIVION

Winner of the Best Mexican Picture Award at the Guanajuato International Film Festival, director Iria Gómez Concheiro’s sophomore feature puts her on the radar as one of the most courageous female voices in current Latin-American cinema. A stirring, powerful and highly emotional social testimony about solidarity, comradeship and righteousness, the film gathers poetic images of a clan of residents living under poor conditions at an abandoned building. Their peaceful, humble environment starts to fall apart, as city authorities rush to evict other buildings in the area, alerting them as the possible next target. Relying on each other, they gather strength on the struggle against the city’s greedy orders, fiercely blocking any access to their homes. Beautifully observed and inclusive, the director extracts vivid performances from the entire cast, creating an immediate and effective empathy: an elderly lady writing remembering-notes around the house; the supervisor longing for her son and husband; the helpful hairdresser; a bon vivant caring for his aging father; young kids enjoying their sports and urban adventures; a boxer preparing for an important event; and a widower fed up with the system and his exploitative bosses; Visiting their homes, their privacy, loneliness, joy and expectations, Concheiro created one of the most honest contemporary portraits of economic despair, housing dislocation and humanitarian rights. Triumphant!

SUFFOCATION

In Kenya Márquez’s intense drama, an albino woman just released from prison fights against all odds in order to be reunited with her estranged daughter. Caught up in between an illegal pharmaceutical drug operation, she is threatened by her ex-husband, and sees no opportunity in a male dominant and criminally charged society. She will try the unimaginable to score her goals and find solace in the uncertain future. First time actress Johana Fragoso Blendl gives a breakthrough performance in the leading role, composing her character with complexity and brilliant dynamics. She was nominated for the Best Actress Award at this year’s WorldFest Houston and deserves all honors with her heartbreaking, compelling turn as a woman recovering from a marginalized past. A timely account on the struggles of Latin ex-cons trying to do better, it’s an efficient avenging mother reboot.

(In its 23rd edition, the 2020 Brooklyn Film Festival will be held online with free access to more than 140 films running May 29th thru June 7th. Go to https://www.brooklynfilmfestival.org/festival for details and registration.)


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