By Roger Costa
SONG WITHOUT A NAME ⭐⭐⭐⭐
It’s a foggy night and a group of people walk down the hill towards a community gathering for a traditional indigenous celebration. Among them, the very pregnant Georgina, her silent husband and neighbors prepare and toast for a ritual before blessing the dancing clothes, grateful for the Natural providence, health, happiness and the baby they expect. Then, Georgina and her husband are walking up the hill where their house is situated, during a foggy early morning, as the sun rises up and work calls. Selling her potatoes on the street market, she pays attention to a radio’s announcement of a clinic offering special treatment for pregnant women and seeks their guidance for labor. When her baby girl is born, they mysteriously take her away from Georgina, leaving her at a desperate situation, the uneasiness, the unknown. She gradually loses her innocence and ability to trust people, as she tries to file a report on her newborn’s kidnapping but no Governmental institution will listen to her. She tries all sorts of Justice procedure and is denied assistance. Only when she crosses path with a young journalist -already shocked and fed up with the violent, gruesome authoritarian political regime- she finds a small portion of hope, as he joins her for a personal investigation, in order to solve the clinic’s child trafficking operation.
Set in 1988 Peru, and based on real facts, the film opens with informative journalistic material announcing the increase economic crisis in the country, as prices of food, water and electricity continued to rise. And immediately focuses on Georgina’s physical, social and economic states, presenting her pregnancy, her strong presence and activities in the community to preserve their culture and legacy, and her extremely humble financial condition. Shot in a thick, crisp and breathtaking B&W, the camera captures with elegance and purity the festivities’ rituals, the stunning Peruvian landscape, hills, mountains, the cold and the fog, the mutilated bodies of rebels and combatants, Georgina’s claustrophobic small house, and the grand walls of the Government palaces.
Award-winning director Melina León’s debut feature divides the attention towards the heart-breaking, hopeless agony of a mother in despair, and the thrilling, on-the-edge life of the closeted gay journalist learning to control his fear over the murderous system he must deal with. Through these two characters, so different in both intellectual and social aspects, the director crafts an important historical mosaic of the country and the people’s endurance and hunger for justice.
Massively awarded in various Festivals around the world, including receiving the Brazilian Critics Award for Best Film, and a prestigious selection at last year’s Golden Camera in Cannes, it delivers surprisingly convincing, touching performances from the entire cast.
It’s a powerfully sensitive and shocking film, stunningly conceived by a promising new filmmaker.
(Film Movement. 8/7.)
RED PENGUINS ⭐⭐⭐
Funny and unpredictable, prolific documentarian Gaby Polsky’s latest project presents an accurate overview on the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of Cold War and the first steps into Capitalism. His lenses go through impressive archival footage, journalistic material, insightful interviews and testimonies of folks who worked on the process of investment abroad. The US decided to fund the Russian hockey team in Moscow, increasing their fame and reputation. Even Disney got involved offering them a millionaire, worldwide deal. Balancing the narrative and the facts with precision and a debaucherous sense of humor, Polsky puts together the pieces of a puzzle connecting gangsters, players, hustlers, gamblers, strippers, politicians and marketing representatives, presenting relevant, curious facts on the relations between the two countries. He also smartly looks at various circumstances, such as the violent riots on the streets (the 1993 constitutional crisis), with both dramatic and humoristic layers.
Inclusive, intimate and scandalous, Polsky scored an essential, provoking and unique sports-mafia-style cinema-vérité event.
I USED TO GO HERE ⭐⭐⭐
Charming and irreverent, Writer-director Kris Rey’s screwball homage to youth in college, brings an affecting performance by Gillian Jacobs as a young writer. Heartbroken and unstable, Kate is dealing with failure at many levels. Her book tour has been cancelled and her fiancé seems to be gone. When she’s invited to read her book at the college she graduated from, she finds opportunity to change her course. Still convinced that she could get back to her man, she is offered a chance to teach at the University, and sees herself divided. But what begins as a pursuit for new horizons, and a prospective new career, turns into a practically nostalgic adventure into the past, as she recalls memories of a time without much of the heck and worries she’s been through. That’s when she visits the house she used to live, becoming close friends with the new residents- students of the same college. Of course, this crowded place will provide conflicts and revealing situations, as they get to know each other and a generation clash is established. Ray brilliantly observes aspects and differences on both generations depicted here: the young writer representing a higher level of maturity, and the students still on the quest for understanding themselves. Or is it both? Is Kate also discovering herself after all? Is she rescuing some time lost, or some time she has never lived before? She demonstrates courage and determination to accomplish her mission, despite the emotional obstacles. And we are in for it.
Uplifting, playful and thoughtful, the result is contagiously funny and irresistibly cheerful.
(Gravitas Ventures. 8/7.)