By Roger Costa
ONE IN A THOUSAND
Seen through the silent emotions of Iris, a 17-year-old athletic girl exploring her gay identity, Clarisa Navas’ magnificent queer drama deeply examines Millennials desires, aspirations and anxieties with utterly convincing results. The camera moves freely through the housing-project in a city near Buenos Aires, presenting the turbulent lives of its struggling residents and the youngsters’ sex-fueled activities. As Iris develops an intense obsession for a rebel older girl named Renata, she sees an opportunity for first love, while her brothers are ahead in the game, involved in scandalous affairs. Sensitive, raw, immersive and unashamed, Navas conducts a free spirited 21st Century Neo-realist urban tale with firm hands, proving to be a promising filmmaker.
SAMICHAY- IN SEARCH OF HAPPINESS
Set in the glorious density of the Andes Mountains, director Mauricio Franco Tosso’s debut feature is a poetic and metaphorical account on the economic troubles faced by the isolated Peruvian communities. Hauntingly shot in B&W, it follows the journey of a man and his “lucky” cow as he tries to make ends meet relying on the animal’s mystic skill. As he ventures the mountains and meets up eccentric folks giving him a hand into reality, Tosso crafts a humbly impactful, meditative, and hypnotic tale about family survival and one man’s devotion to Earth and Nature.
ALL THE DEAD ONES
Two of the most accomplished contemporary Brazilian auteurs unite talents for this exquisitely shot, female-driven period piece set in a rapidly growing Sao Paulo right after the Slavery Abolition. Caetano Gotardo and Marco Dutra crafts an enigmatic, profoundly detailed multi-character study as they observe the heat among the members of an Aristocratic family, their neighbors and the former slave who’s invited to perform rituals in order to bring healing. Superbly performed and influenced by Manoel de Oliveira’s magical lyricism and abstract aesthetic, the result is an entertaining, passionate and accurate canvas of Brazil’s racial, social and religious conflicts.
BETWEEN DOG AND WOLF
Three veteran soldiers who fought in the Angolan Civil War meditate on their condition while venturing the Cuban wilderness. As they re-enact their battles, strategies, their glory and losses, director Irene Gutiérrez takes the audience through the wonderful process of recollecting images, memories, and moments, while observing the wounds caused by the horrors of war, and their ability to overcome the trauma. An absorbing blend of doc and dramatization.
After leaving Portugal, where he worked in the port, an aging man returns to his native Panama’s village in order to re-connect to his past, roots, culture and faith. Nostalgic, sensitive and engrossing, Ana Elena Tejera’s masterly structured debut reveals the impressive talent of an emerging Latin cinematic voice, an ambiguous and entrancing work about identity, ancestry and perseverance.
In a magical atmosphere, Mexican director Julio Hernández Cordón travels back in time to his childhood taking his daughter along the way for an irresistible urban adventure in search of an imaginary lake. As he visits his hometown, digging up memories, past and present emerge as a homage to the living experience and the fundamentals of family values. Funny, lively, imaginative and utterly authentic, he composes a love letter to filmmaking, with Avant-Garde style and a unique lyricism all over it. Hard not to fall for it.
(Presented by Film At Lincoln Center and Cinema Tropical, the 6th Neighboring Scenes Latin American Film Festival runs virtually nationwide now thru April 12. Go to https://virtual.filmlinc.org/page/neighboring-scenes/ for details.)