Here’s a Look at the Lineup for Neighboring Scenes, New York’s Latin American Film Series

Lead Photo: 'Bellas de noche' still courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival
'Bellas de noche' still courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival
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Now in its third year, Film Society of Lincoln Center and Cinema Tropical’s Neighboring Scenes program serves as a continued reminder that Latin American cinema is where it’s at. Showcasing 17 films from all over the continent, the week-long event features fearless debuts, daring dramas, and the best from countries like Mexico, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, and beyond.

Opening the 2018 edition of Neighboring Scenes is Anahí Berneri‘s AlanisStarring Sofía Gala Castaglione in the title role (alongside her real-life son Dante), this film offers an unsparing look at the life of a young mother and sex worker in Buenos Aires during a three day period. Tackling head on Argentina’s prostitution laws and shooting its sex scenes with an unflinching lens, Berneri’s film is no Pretty Woman. 

Boasting what has to be the most star wattage of any of the films presented, Santiago Mitre’s La cordillera (The Summit) is a political thriller set at a summit of Latin American presidents in Chile. Set against a striking set of snow-capped mountains, that country’s president (played by Argentine superstar Ricardo Darín) will have to face political and family drama that risks destroying his career. In addition to Darín, Mitre has recruited Dolores Fonzi, Erica Rivas, Elena Anaya, Paulina García, Daniel Giménez Cacho, Alfredo Castro, and even Christian Slater.

Skewing younger — much like his previous film, I Promise You Anarchy — is Mexican-Guatemalan filmmaker Julio Hernández Cordón’s latest, Atrás hay relámpagos (Lightning Falls Behind). Set in Costa Rica and featuring playful camerawork, Hernández Cordón’s plucky flick centers on two rebellious girls  Sole (Adriana Alvarez) and Ana (Natalia Arias) who find something inside the trunk of a car (while trying to kickstart their vintage cab service, as one does) that they’d rather forget. With its electric leads and a gorgeous cinematography showcasing the beauty of an urban Costa Rica, Atrás hay relámpagos joins the ever-growing canon of high-caliber films coming out of Central America.

‘Lightning Falls Behind’ courtesy of Film Society of Lincoln Center
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Those looking for documentary fare should check out Maria Jose Cuevas‘ look at aging vedettes, Bellas de noche (Beauties of the Night), Pablo Escoto’s lyrical take on Mexican fishermen Ruinas tu reino (Ruins, Your Realm) and Tiziana Panizza’s hodgepodge of a portrait of Easter Island (it boasts footage from 32 other docs) Tierra Sola (Solitary Land). And with other fiction films dealing with Colombia’s colonial past, following Brazilians traveling the world, and even fictionalizing recent Bolivian history, the entire varied selection of Neighboring Scenes has something for anyone looking to catch the most exciting work coming out of Latin America.

Neighboring Scenes runs February 28-March 4, 2018.