This Film Series Is Bringing Award-Winning Latin American Movies to New York in January

Lead Photo: Still from 'Surire'
Still from 'Surire'
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As northeasterners trudge forth bravely into the depths of yet another winter, the importance of enriching indoor activities to help maintain our emotional stability grows exponentially. And what better way to ride out the dark, gloomy days of late January than with an impressive lineup of Latin American cinema screening at New York’s premiere cultural institution?

Well, that’s exactly what will be going down at Lincoln Center when the second edition of the Neighboring Scenes film series takes over the Walter Reade Theater from January 26-31. Following up on last year’s stellar program – which brought international hits like Ixcanul and El Club to New York audiences – the series’ second edition brings together some of the most fascinating and innovative Latin American films from the past year, along with one very timely special screening of Glauber Rocha’s 1967 Cinema Novo classic Terra em Transe.

With a total of 13 fiction and documentary features rounding out the bill this year – including an unprecedented number of female directors – there should be enough to guarantee a movie-packed week for series Latin American cinenerds. But just in case you needed some help, we’ve rounded up a few highlights from the series.

First up, Mexican director Joaquin del Paso’s debut feature, Maquinaria Panamericana, takes us into a fictional construction company run by a decent, caring man named Don Alejandro. For decades Don Alejandro has run his business like a family, and his employees return the favor with their enthusiasm and hard work. When Don Alejandro suddenly dies, his faithful workers come to learn that he has been paying their wages out of pocket for years, and their whole lives are about to change for the worse.

In the Argentine drama La larga noche de Francisco Santis, co-directors Andrea Testa and Francisco Márquez bring us back to the dark days of their country’s military dictatorship while asking some urgent moral questions that are still relevant to today’s tumultuous world. The title character, Francisco Santis is an apolitical family man getting by without causing any trouble. When he unintentionally finds out that the military are looking for two individuals, he has a crisis of conscience as he wrestles with his desire to keep his hands clean, and the necessity of doing the right thing.

From Chile, directing duo Bettina Perut and Ivan Osnovikoff bring us a quietly meditative and subtly comical documentary portrait of Chile’s Salar de Surire: an otherworldly salt flat in the country’s northern mountains. Taking us through the region’s unique geological and biological phenomena, Surire takes time to observe the daily rituals of the Aymara residents of the sparsely populated Natural Monument while forcing us to confront deep contrasts between the past and future.

Neighboring Scenes runs January 26-31, 2017. Tickets go on sale on January 12.