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Grappling with Generational Conflicts & Displacement at Neighboring Scenes ‘22


By Roger Costa   


In her strikingly sensitive feature debut, director Thais Fujinaga investigates broken family ties as well as new beginnings with the usual realistic elements that characterizes the Minas Gerais-based film production collective Filmes de Plastico. Through the story of a pregnant mother spending a tumultuous summer Vacation on a beach area with her two children and her aging mother, the director paints an engaging, meticulously crafted on details, naturalistic drama that brilliantly reads its characters’ emotions through their silent anguish, expectations and needs. The director masterly uses routine moments to reveal important aspects of the story: We learn of the family’s economical struggle, as she calls the estranged husband demanding money to pay for the pool’s construction; there’s also something going on with their marriage, as the fact that he isn’t coming to drive back home his own family, leaves it clear of a forced separation. At the same time, the camera explores the aspirations of a growing fast and transformational teenager, and how his innocent little sister relies completely on him, believing he is able to rescue her from any harm. In contrast, the aging woman, their grandmother, sees an opportunity to reconnect with her inner self, fully enjoying those hot days, and proving to be the only one without any concerns, the only family member reasonable and prepared enough to make any decisions. An incredibly delicate piece of contemporary neo-realism, Fujinaga proves to be on total control of her game, leaving an impressive mark as an emerging filmmaker aware of all the possibilities art cinema can explore on the subject of human condition.


Addressing topics of intolerance, prejudice and pharmaceutical manipulation related to children with emotional disorders, this latest collaboration between Uruguayan-Mexican filmmakers Rodrigo Pla and Laura Santullo is a richly textured, marvelously narrated and heart-breaking story about a young hopeless mother seeking redemption and cure for her 9-year-old problematic son. When Tom is diagnosed with ADHD, his mother goes on a spiral of social conflicts, fighting institutions and schools to get the right treatment and opportunity for him, while dealing with the obstacles of being an underappreciated working woman of color. Introducing two powerful performances, memorably affectionate and raw, utterly convincing by Julia Chavez and Israel Rodriguez Bartorelli, the directors conceived a harsh and alarming depiction of children’s behavior, offering love as a healing escape, and exposing the manipulative power of the greedy medical system in America.


A teenager becomes pregnant and her teacher decides to embrace her case, putting her reputation and professional standards at risk. Exploring the moral dilemmas of abortion and how Latin America reacts to it, Costa Rican director Paz Fabrega conducts an important and urgent material about motherhood and the preparations for it, presenting the contrasts of generations, human connections, empathy and compassion. As the girl explores her sexuality and aspirations among her equally-curious friends, the teacher delves into her melancholy and loneliness, pursuing second chances and purpose. They are joined by the girl’s mother, adding another feminine perspective to the matter, when she learns of her plans to either hide the pregnancy, give the baby away or to perform the abortion. Exploring each woman’s motives and expectations with candor and immediacy, Fabrega scores a complex and intriguing portrait of strong modern women fighting for the right to be themselves.


Exposing the reality of negligence and brutality against young delinquents incarcerated at a juvenile prison in Santiago, Chilean director Claudia Huaiquimilla conceives a powerfully moving and efficient prison drama influenced by the intensity of “Carandiru” and others alike. Following the struggle of two brothers seeking their place among the other precocious criminals, the film deeply investigates the dreams of freedom, while unflinchingly undressing its central characters’ emotions and hopes. Winner of the Best Film Award at Guadalajara Film Festival, it is a chilling slowburn thriller about surviving the system.


Carved with the aesthetic of its Producer Roberto Minervini, this astonishingly shot in B&W and striking documentary charts the lives of a group of homeless and addicts as they wander the streets in search of hope and survival. Shot in El Paso, on the US-Mexico border, director/cinematographer Carlos Alfonso Corral provides a raw, profoundly sad and accurate portrait of the dark side of America and the depths of human condition. Told with lyricism and fueled by great music, jazz, folk and blues, elevating the dramatic tone of their inhumane condition, it is a sensitive and compassionate tale about living on the margins of society.

(Presented by Cinema Tropical and Film at Lincoln Center, the 7th Neighboring Scenes Festival runs February 24-28 bringing the best in contemporary Latin American cinema. Directors and cast members will be at selected screenings for Q&A sessions. Go to for tickets, schedule and details.)

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