It’s never easy adapting to a new culture, especially when that includes learning a new language entirely different from your own. It’s an experience that director Nele Wohlatz knew intimately after she migrated from Germany to Argentina years ago and that left her feeling confused and “inept” as a film director, but ultimately inspired what would be her first feature, El Futuro Perfecto.
Inspired by the real-life experiences of Chinese-Argentine immigrant Xiaobin Zhang, El Futuro Perfecto walks that blurry line between fiction and documentary to tell the story of a 17-year-old supermarket employee whose desire to learn Spanish marks a process of personal discovery and liberation from the insular world of her parents. As she explained in a recent interview, Wohlatz found the non-professional actress after sitting in on Spanish classes at the language institute where she taught German – classes that were populated almost exclusively by Chinese immigrants.
The resulting film, written in collaboration with Argentine screenwriter Pío Longo, dramatizes the process of coming into language both on a personal and practical level, and culminates in the fictionalized Xiaobin’s romantic relationship with Vijay – an Indian immigrant dealing with similar problems of assimilation and adaptation. The trailer gives us a sense of how this process plays out, with a subtle, deadpan humor coming forth from a seemingly endless parade of awkward silences and longing gazes; while showing us a side of Argentine culture we almost never see represented.
Apparently, El Futuro Perfecto’s unique spin on adaptation and immigration wowed jurors at the prestigious Locarno Film Festival enough to award Wohlatz with the Swatch First Feature Award earlier this year, and the film will be running a victory lap at the upcoming Costa Rica International Film Festival.