By Roger Costa
A very active and prolific Brazilian filmmaker working mostly oversea, Leandro Goddinho teams up with another authentic talent, Paulo Menezes, in the conception of this beautifully observed and narrated, funny Queer tragicomedy set in Berlin. Together, they directed, wrote the screenplay and produced this fabulous and vivid short film that has lots and lots of potential to become an amazing feature long narrative.
It is an accomplished and accurate look at being Queer and immigrant in Europe, most specifically in Berlin, where the gay community is welcome and strong but struggles to connect and to find stability.
In the opening sequence, we meet Edu, a Brazilian gay immigrant trying to make ends meet in Berlin. He is trying to get Health insurance to be checked at a clinic, as he’s suffering from an internal bleeding. “I am literally bleeding from the ass!”, he announces to a friend on the phone. Amazon, his employer, hasn’t paid for such, so he is in trouble. He must act quick, as his agenda is completely full for that drastic, unpredictable day. The streets are filled with tumultuous chaos, as crowds protest against the rise in rents and other city faults. And Edu is experiencing the same crisis: he is being kicked out of his apartment, and took the day to attend several interviews looking for the ideal shared room in an eccentric, friendly but very selective city. During these encounters, filled with deeply intrusive, personally challenging questions about behavior, financial status, emotional issues, just to name a few, Edu sees his world collapsing even deeper, but he must remain firm and focused. Especially because his mother is also constantly calling with the latest news about his father’s medical condition, which elevates his anxiety and disorientation. Somehow he will find console among one of those interviews, when he meets a blonde stud, who seduces him, only to afterwards insult and humiliate him inappropriately commenting the size of his penis.
So, life hasn’t been easy for Edu, and the directors paint a lively, realistic and immersive canvas of the perks and challenges of being an immigrant in Europe. But the narrative feels universal, this is a poignant, emphatic and familiar story to any Queer immigrant living away from their roots and having to deal with xenophobia, financial insecurity and other discriminations.
Actor Murillo Basso is brilliant and charismatic as the protagonist, the type of affecting character the audience develops an instant connection with. He is funny, precise and convincing as the conductor of this effervescent journey through the streets, the lofts and the gay cruising undergroung culture in Berlin.
Another accomplishment for director Goddinho, and Paulo Menezes, this is poised to become one of the most celebrated shorts of the year, and with its potential and accurate character study, should most likely turn into a feature length film.
(“Du Bist so Wunderbar”, International Competition for Best Short European Film Awards. Screens August, 3, 4 and 5. Go to https://www.locarnofestival.ch/festival/program/film.html?fid=0e8bcf47-548e-4ecd-831c-97ba1e1da836 for details.)
THE BEAUTIFUL SUMMER
The glamorous world of fashion and etiquete and the bohemian culture mingle in this luscious and richly sensitive look at being young and outcast. Set in the elegant and courteous streets of 1938 Turin, writer-director Laura Luchetti crafts a lovely, tender and sensual coming of age story centered in the transformations experienced by a young woman from the countryside. When she moves to Turin along with her brother, in search of opportunities, she is rapidly introduced into various groups, getting a job at a very important boutique and designing dresses for their wealthy customers, as well as discovering the bohemian lifestyle of the youngsters in town, their artistic liberations and aspirations and, of course, their sexual activities.
Actress Yile Yara Vianello (who had her breakthrough performance at the equally observational “Corpo Celeste”) gives an incredibly touching and detailed performance as the young Ginia. Her gradual tranformation, hormonal, sexual, emotional and professional is perfectly embodied and layered with delicacy and intimacy. It is a masterwork in drama, using the language of her body and the nuance of her expressions. The audience witnesses her disappointment and loss of innocence, through the sexual encounters to the hurdles at the workplace, to the conversations with her brother reminding who she is and where she comes from, and her engagement and romance with an irressitible and reckless young woman who poses as the painters’ muse. In every moment, Vianello leaves an impressive mark, a gripping dramatic manifestation of her craft.
The period recreation generously contributes to the film’s achievement, including the gorgeous set designs by Giancarlo Muselli and the seductive and immersive cinematography by Diego Romano Suarez Llanos. Add the beautiful music by Francesco Cerasi, and the result makes it easily a romantic classic reflecting on young women’s empowerment and the challenges to reach that.
As for director Luchetti, here she proves her commitment and passion to the art, conceiving an inspirational and enriching feminine saga about growing up and acceptance. She comes from the success of her sophomore project, “Twin Flower”, and is currently working on a Netflix series titled “The Leopard”, confirming she is on the path for stardom.
Gathering a wonderful ensemble cast that shines on the screen, and astonishing techniques, Luchetti deeply explores desire, ambition, first love, artistic influences and prejudice, with authenticity and immeasurable sensitivity. Bravo!
(“La Bella Estate”. Screens Friday, August 4 at Piazza Grande. Go to https://www.locarnofestival.ch/festival/program/film.html?fid=b93b86c8-9d09-4eb2-a7af-d3d236199b7b for details.)
ME & THE BEASTS
Nico Manzano’s debut feature is a wonderful exercise in Latin American indie film. Armed with an oddly original idea, great music, and weirdness, and aiming to shoot out a subtle and subversive anti-Governmental protest against Venezuela’s social and economic crisis, Manzano invites the audience for a cool exploration on a melancholic and insecure single artist’s struggle for motivation.
With his country facing a chaotic situation, where hope seems lost and artists are denied any opportunity, a singer decides to embark on a solo career influenced by the rhythms two mysterious masked beings help him with.
Eccentric, visually-entrancing, funny and irresistible, it announces the talent of a new contemporary Latin-American indie genius, giving us hope for the genre that seems to be fading away. Please more!
(“Yo y Las Bestias”. Screens August 3 and 4. Go to https://www.locarnofestival.ch/festival/program/film.html?fid=9f703387-6460-4719-bf2d-1b859635a764&eid= for more information.)
(The 76th Locarno Film Festival runs August 2-12. For an overview of the entire Festival, programs, music and food events, parties and other details go to https://www.locarnofestival.ch/home.html)