From Argentina to Brazil: 6 Must-See Movies From Latin America’s Young Auteurs

Lead Photo: 'Arabia' still courtesy of Cinema Tropical
'Arabia' still courtesy of Cinema Tropical
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Any film program that can boast having screened films by Pedro Almodóvar and Christopher Nolan before they became household names is one to look out for. Presented by the Museum of Modern Art and the Film Society of Lincoln Center New Directors/New Films is celebrating its 46th edition this year. And just like years past, its lineup is no doubt filled with the type of auteurs you’ll soon be reading about. Its lineup showcases some of the most exciting emerging filmmakers from around the world.

João Dumans and Affonso Uchoa’s Arábiafor example, takes viewers on a journey across Brazil. A teenager living in Minas Gerais discovers the journal of Cristiano, one of the workers of a nearby factory who’s suffered an accident. He reads about Cristiano’s life, which included a stint in jail, odd jobs here and there, and even a doomed love affair. Taking place in quarries, factories, and farms, Dumans and Uchoa’s film is attuned to the struggles of the working class and looking at the changing landscape of industrial Brazil.

The setup for Julia Murat’s Pendular is a simple one. A sculptor and a dancer share a big loft where they each toil away on their respective artworks. But this open and sun-lit space becomes a site of conflict where everyday gestures of desire and jealousy infect and inspire the art they’re both producing. Co-written with her partner, this restrained psycho-sexual drama explores what it means to give oneself to someone else—what that surrender can look like in ways both literal and metaphoric. With gorgeous choreography and striking sculptures bringing these artists’ visions to life in the empty warehouse that we never leave, Murat’s film is a beautiful study in charged simplicity.

A winner of the the Best First Feature award at the 2016 Locarno Film Festival, Nele Wohlatz’s El futuro perfecto (The Future Perfect) is a global film in every sense of the word. Wohlatz, who was born in Germany, has been living and working in Argentina for the past few years. For her debut she opted to turn her own experience as an immigrant in the Latin American country into a quiet yet playful film. When Xiaobin arrives in Buenos Aires her inability to speak Spanish limits her ability to move around in this new place. El futuro perfecto intermingles the teenager’s Spanish language lessons in antiseptic classrooms with her forays into the bustling Argentine city to create a perfect portrait of what it means to be a stranger slowly acquainting themselves with a new language and a new city. It screens with a five-minute short film by the same director: Tres oraciones sobre la Argentina (Three Sentences About Argentina).

Even the Shorts Program has two films worth seeking out — and luckily they screen together. There’s Manuela De Laborde’s experimental meditation on detailed surfaces of objects, As Without So Within. As well as Charlotte Bayer-Broc’s The Blue Devils (Los diablos azules), her wholly original adaptation of Luis Advis’s 1969 cantata “Santa María de Iquique,” which tells the story of a mining massacre in Chile’s La Pampa.

New Directors/New Films runs March 15-26, 2017 in New York.