Belmonte, directed by Federico Veiroj
Belmonte, directed by Federico Veiroj

Neighboring Scenes, the annual festival of contemporary Latin American cinema organized by the Film Society of Lincoln Center and Cinema Tropical, returns for the 4th edition in New York City with 13 features and 10 shorts with seven filmmakers in person, from February 22 to 26.

The Opening Night selection is Belmonte, directed by Uruguayan filmmaker Federico Veiroj (ND/NF 2016). This emotionally layered and often hilarious movie follows a successful artist as he prepares for a major exhibit in the midst of a family crisis. The Centerpiece selection is Carlos Reygadas’s Our Time, “a film of considerable visual poetry” (Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily) starring Reygadas alongside his own wife and children in a bold exploration of marriage and intimacy.

This year’s lineup includes award winners from festivals around the world, including Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León’s animated docu-horror-fairy-tale The Wolf House (2018 Cinema Tropical Best First Film), Iván Fund’s  There Will Come Soft Rains (Mar del Plata IFF Special Jury Award), Mauricio Alfredo Ovando’s Still Burn (Best Director and FIPRESCI awards, 2018 Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema), and Nuria Ibañez’s A Wild Stream (Best Mexican Documentary at the Morelia Film Festival). Several films in the festival were highlights of Cannes 2018, notably Renée Nader Messora & João Salaviza’s 16mm-shot The Dead and the Others (Un Certain Regard Special Jury Prize winner), Alejandro Fadel’s genre-bending horror film Murder Me, Monster (Un Certain Regard), and Julio Hernández Cordón’s Buy Me a Gun (Directors’ Fortnight), described as a cross between The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Mad Max.

The lineup also includes multiple debut features, including Óscar Catacora’s Ozu-esque Eternity, Ewerton Belico & Samuel Marotta’s Low Center, and Ignacio Juricic Merillán’s EnigmaThis year’s Neighboring Scenes will show a selection of short films by Art of the Real and New York Film Festival alum Eduardo Williams, one of the recipients of the 2019 Lincoln Center Awards for Emerging Artists, which recognizes diverse and exceptional talents across the arts each year. The program will include the North American premiere of his latest film, Parsi (in collaboration with Mariano Blatt), followed by a Q&A with Williams. Also returning to the Film Society is fellow Art of the Real alum Camila José Donoso with her latest film, Nona. If they soak me, I’ll burn them., which features a mix of digital, video, and 16mm.

FILMS & DESCRIPTIONS

All screenings will take place in the Walter Reade Theater (165 W. 65th St.) unless otherwise noted. 

Opening Night
Belmonte
Federico Veiroj, Uruguay/Spain/Mexico, 2018, 75m
Spanish with English subtitles
New York Premiere
A clever and emotionally layered performance from Gonzalo Delgado is the heart of this fourth feature from Uruguayan auteur Federico Veiroj (The Apostate, ND/NF 2016). With wry humor and an exquisite sense of place for Montevideo, Belmonte follows Javi (Delgado) at a crisis point in his life. He’s a successful painter in Uruguay’s capital city—presently exploring the tortured world of naked men while preparing an upcoming exhibition—but most of his time is spent working through strained relationships with his elderly parents, his pregnant ex-wife, and their 10-year-old daughter, Celeste (Olivia Molinaro Eijo). As in his second feature, A Useful Life (ND/NF 2010), Veiroj demonstrates a deft ability to examine the art world with compelling ingenuity, this time through a genuinely funny and rich portrait of an artist pining for a luminous family life.

Centerpiece 
Our Time / Nuestro tiempo
Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/France/Germany/Denmark/Sweden, 2018, 173m
Spanish and English with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Gorgeously shot by Diego García, the latest from Mexican director Carlos Reygadas (Silent Light, Post Tenebras Lux) is a bold and heartfelt exploration of marriage and intimacy. Starring the director and his wife, Natalia López, as Juan and Esther, the film portrays the life of a couple and their two children on a cattle ranch for fighting bulls. Esther is in charge of running the ranch, while Juan, a world-renowned poet, raises and selects the beasts. Yet when Esther becomes infatuated with an American horse trainer, Juan seems incapable of accepting his own limitations. A Monument Releasing release.

Buy Me a Gun / Cómprame un revolver
Julio Hernández Cordón, Mexico/Colombia, 2018, 84m
Spanish with English subtitles
New York Premiere
The seventh film by Meso-American filmmaker Julio Hernández Cordón (I Promise You Anarchy, ND/NF 2016) is a harrowing, blistering vision of 21st-century Mexico. In the near future, when women are endangered and the only order comes from the lawless and elusive cartel, a young girl named Huck (Matilde Hernández Guinea) must hide her gender in order to help her tormented drug addict father (Rogelio Sosa) manage an abandoned baseball field. Absurdist, macabre, and exhilarating, this highlight from the 2018 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight is like a cross between The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Mad Max, told through Hernández Cordón’s lo-fi futurist visual style.

The Dead and the Others / Chuva é cantoria na aldeia dos mortos
Renée Nader Messora & João Salaviza, Brazil/Portugal, 2018, 114m
Portuguese with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Winner of the Un Certain Regard special jury prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora’s hybrid follows Ihjãc (Henrique Ihjãc Krahô), a 15-year-old indigenous Krahô from the north of Brazil, who runs away from home after he is called to direct his deceased father’s spirit to the village of the dead. Denying his tribal duty as a prospective shaman, Ihjãc instead resides in the nearby town of Itacajá against the advice of his wife (Raene Kôtô Krahô) and community. Shot on 16mm by co-director Nader Messora, The Dead and the Others is a dramatically intriguing, richly textured portrait of grief and the threats facing ancient traditions by modern society.

Enigma
Ignacio Juricic Merillán, Chile, 2018, 80m
Spanish with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Anchored by a potent ensemble cast led by the brilliant Roxana Campos, Ignacio Juricic Merillán’s assured and understated debut feature follows a 54-year-old neighborhood hairdresser who is asked to appear on an episode of TV show about unsolved mysteries dedicated to the violent death of her lesbian daughter in the streets of Santiago a decade earlier. As she decides whether or not to be participate, she confronts her family and their versions of the events that occurred years ago, learning more about who her daughter was.  

Preceded by:
Sobre cosas que me han pasado
José Luis Torres Leiva, Chile, 2018, 15m
Spanish with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Mundane, fleeting moments turn into film poetry as seen through the eyes of an exceptionally sensitive character (and filmmaker). Based on the book by Chilean writer Marcelo Matthey.

Eternity / Wiñaypacha
Óscar Catacora, Peru, 2017, 86m
Aymara with English subtitles
New York Premiere
In Óscar Catacora’s acclaimed debut feature—the first Peruvian movie shot entirely in the Aymara language—an elderly couple living in a remote part of the Andes faces the challenges of daily life with courage and determination. Like the protagonist couple in Ozu’s Tokyo Story, Willka and Phaxsi stoically carry the sadness of being forgotten by their long-absent son, and yearn for him to return home from the city. With magnificent cinematography, this landmark film delicately draws the emotional story of the filmmaker’s grandparents, who taught him Aymara when he was sent by his parents to live with them at age seven.

Preceded by:
Before My Eyes / ante mis ojos
Lina Rodríguez, Colombia, 2018, 7m
Spanish with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Shot on Super 8mm, Before My Eyes is a calm and mysterious portrait of Lake Guatavita, which is considered the inspiration for the legend of El Dorado.

Low Center / Baixo centro
Ewerton Belico & Samuel Marotta, Brazil, 2018, 80m
Portuguese with English subtitles
North American Premiere
A beguiling and enigmatic nocturnal experience, set in the peripheral and desolate spaces of the Brazilian city Belo Horizonte, Ewerton Belico and Samuel Marotta’s debut feature gradually wanders into the dreamlike territory of a trance film. Using afro-descendent poetics in its dialogue and soundtrack—a combination of electro-funk and contemporary versions of ancient chants—Low Center follows its characters through a labyrinthine circuit of chance encounters to evoke a city haunted by its past. Belico and Marotta, along with director of photography Leonardo Feliciano (Araby, ND/NF 2017), capture an atmosphere of madness and despair with an exquisite, clear-eyed sense of place.

Murder Me, Monster / Muere, monstruo, muere
Alejandro Fadel, Argentina/Chile/France, 2018, 109m
Spanish with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
In Alejandro Fadel’s genre-bending and offbeat philosophical horror movie, rural police officer Cruz investigates the bizarre case of a headless woman’s body found in a remote region of the Andes. David, the husband of Cruz’s lover, becomes the prime suspect and is sent to a local mental hospital, where he blames the crime on the inexplicable and brutal appearance of the “Monster.” Cruz stumbles upon a mysterious theory involving geometric landscapes, mountain motorcyclists, and a mantra stuck in his head, which is the film’s title.

Nona. If they soak me, I’ll burn them. / Nona. Si me mojan, yo los quemo.
Camila José Donoso, Chile/Brazil/France/Korea, 2019, 100m
North American Premiere
As with her previous features, Naomi Campbel and Casa Roshell (Art of the Real, 2015 and 2017), Chilean filmmaker Camila José Donoso’s richly detailed film fully immerses the viewer in its world, mixing digital, video, and 16mm to portray its beautifully ambivalent subject. At 66, Nona (Josefina Ramirez, José Donoso’s grandmother) lives alone and is recuperating from cataract surgery while a mysterious fire rages across southern Chile and generates unrest in her otherwise sleepy town. Capturing her routines and relationships while folding in past memories and a violent pathology with the present, Nona. If they soak me, I’ll burn them. is as much an allegory of contemporary Chile as it is a deeply personal character study.

Preceded by:
A Local Kind of God / Un dios local
Benjamín Naishtat, Argentina, 2018, 6m
North American Premiere
An experimental travelogue through India and its people, worshiping ancient gods and selfies.

Still Burn / Algo quema
Mauricio Alfredo Ovando, Bolivia, 2018, 77m
Spanish with English subtitles
U.S. Premiere
Alfredo Ovando Candia was a military general who served as Co-President of Bolivia from 1965–66 (and again from 1969–70) after overthrowing sitting President Víctor Paz Estenssoro. His political and military service connected him to the largest massacre of workers in the country’s history, as well as the military campaign in which Che Guevara was killed. Incorporating archival footage recorded during Ovando’s de facto government, home movies, and interviews with relatives, filmmaker Mauricio Alfredo Ovando’s debut feature studies the many profiles of his grandfather to juxtapose his family’s memories with the official history. Winner of the Best Director and FIPRESCI awards at the 2018 Buenos Aires International Festival of Independent Cinema, Still Burn is a courageous, perceptive documentary about how collective and personal memories are created from—and ultimately shape—a complicated legacy.

Preceded by:
Punky Eye / Ojo malcriado
Luis Arnías, Venezuela/USA, 2018, 15m
Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
In Luis Arnías’s Punky Eye, memories become poetic vignettes, sometimes irrational, sometimes precisely conceptual, always stimulating and cinematic.

There Will Come Soft Rains / Vendrán lluvias suaves
Iván Fund, Argentina, 2018, 81m
Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
A remarkable ensemble of young nonprofessional actors leads Argentine director Iván Fund’s latest feature—an oneiric vision of the apocalypse in which a strange incident sends the adults of a working-class neighborhood into an everlasting slumber. Left to their own devices, the town’s children gradually adapt to a peculiar new world that remains largely undisturbed by mankind’s absence. Fund draws inspiration from Sara Teasdale’s 1918 poem of the same name, lucidly translating the imagery and themes of the original text into a lyrical film about the regenerative, blissful elements of nature in the aftermath of calamity.

Preceded by:
The Cemetery Lightens / El cementerio se alumbra
Luis Alejandro Yero, Cuba, 2018, 14m
Spanish with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Nocturnal, seemingly random images of Havana conjure up a dark, feverish, and deceptively political work about present-day Cuba.

A Wild Stream / Una corriente salvaje
Nuria Ibáñez, Mexico, 2018, 72m
U.S. Premiere
Winner of the Best Mexican Feature Documentary at the Morelia Film Festival, the third feature by Spanish-born director Nuria Ibáñez (The Tightrope, The Naked Room) follows Chilo and Omar, who seem to be the only two men on earth. They live on a solitary beach in the desert-like landscape of Baja California and fish to survive. Selected by Film Comment as one of the best undistributed films of 2018, A Wild Stream is an engrossing portrait of the human condition, as well as an unusual and quirky bromance.

Preceded by:
The Forces / Las fuerzas
Paola Buontempo, Argentina, 2018, 18m
Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
This brilliant short documentary provides glimpses into the world of horse-racing, following young men and women on track to becoming jockeys.

The Wolf House / La Casa Lobo
Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León, Chile/Germany, 2018, 75m
Spanish and German with English subtitles
New York Premiere
Evoking Colonia Dignidad, an infamous torture colony operating during the Pinochet regime, The Wolf House is an animated film unlike any other, an exquisitely handcrafted surrealist docu-horror-fairy tale about one of Chile’s darkest periods. It begins with Mary, a young girl who hides in a mysterious house in southern Chile after escaping from a sect of German religious fanatics. Using stop-motion techniques and combining elements of various fables, photography, drawing, sculpture, and stage performance, Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León have created a nightmarish shapeshifter of a film.

Eduardo Williams Shorts Program (TRT: 85m)
Argentine filmmaker Eduardo “Teddy” Williams (The Human Surge, NYFF54) has been named one of the recipients of the 2019 Lincoln Center Awards for Emerging Artists, which recognizes diverse and exceptional talents across the arts each year. For this edition of Neighboring Scenes, we are pleased to present a selection of Williams’s short films and celebrate the young auteur as he continues to realize his bold, singular vision—featuring the North American premiere of his latest film, Parsi (in collaboration with Mariano Blatt), followed by a post-screening Q&A with Williams.

Could See a Puma / Pude ver un puma
Argentina, 2011, 18m
Spanish with English subtitles
A rooftop accident sends a group of friends wandering across a desolate landscapes until they plunge into the earth’s depths.

That I’m Falling? / Que je tombe tout le temps?
France, 2013, 15m
French, English, and Spanish with English subtitles
In Sierra Leone, a young man looking for a seed emerges from the underground, hangs out with his friends and begins a long, digestive trip.

I Forgot! / Tôi quên rồi
France/Vietnam, 2014, 29m
Vietnamese with English subtitles
A group of Vietnamese teenagers stave off boredom by leaping from rooftop to rooftop, window to window, one building to the next. Flaunting Williams’s free, immersive way with street scenes and his protagonists’ death-defying feats, I Forgot! offers a vision as spellbinding as it is terrifying, juxtaposing all-too-familiar everydayness with the sublime beauty of the reckless act.

Parsi
Eduardo Williams with Mariano Blatt, Guinea-Bissau/Argentina/Switzerland, 2018, 23m
Creole and Spanish with English subtitles
North American Premiere
Commissioned for the 2018 Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement, Williams’s latest is an immersive work exploring the rhythmic, discursive language of Mariano Blatt’s poem “No es” against the perpetually moving people of Guinea-Bissau.

Related Post

Share this article ...