Sundance is in full swing. Strange, but it feels like the years are growing shorter just as my forehead’s growing longer, and right when it seems we’re coming off of the 2014 festival season, 2015 comes a-knockin’ with a high-altitude, cinematic punch-in-the-gut. From the look of things, this year’s line-up promises to be a lot like last year’s (but totally different), and we at Remezcla will be doing our solemn duty by bringing you a look into some of the more promising works by Latino and Latin-American filmmakers premiering their latest at at that revered institution of cinematic consecration.
First up: H. by globe-trotting directing duo Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia. Recently voted as two of the “25 Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine, the creative collaborators first made waves with a string of buzz-worthy short films, followed by their first feature Ok, Enough, Goodbye (shot in Attieh’s hometown of Tripoli, Lebanon), which was nothing short of a micro-budget success story.
Changing gears a little bit, H. takes place in the aging upstate New York steel town of Troy, and follows a series of ominous events affecting the lives two women named Helen. Helen One is middle aged and married to Roy and coddles a bizarre baby doll as if it were a real child. Helen Two is a young and successful artist who is expecting a baby with her noncommittal partner. All of this is followed by meteor crashes, disappearances, and “life-altering changes”.
It may not be entirely evident, but H. is billed as a sci-fi flick – something neither the synopsis nor the trailer make too clear. What is clear, however, is that the film looks absolutely terrifying. Shot in a stark, realist style, Attieh and Garcia seem to find unsettling visual atmospheres in the most mundane interior lighting schemes, and use the muddy palette, grey skies and harsh blue light of an Upstate winter to chilling affect. To top it off, the dissonant piano score that gives way to a shrieking, virtuoso violin gives a sense of impending doom as banal images like an empty conversion van in a parking lot somehow take on an otherworldly eeriness.
While a world-premiere at Sundance is certainly a huge stamp of approval, H. still has a long way to go before it makes the leap from festivals to Fandango. But if you find yourself in the vicinity of Park City, Utah over the next couple of weeks, this one definitely looks to be worth the price of admission.