In the popular idiom of many Mexican communities “la tirisia” refers to an ailment of the soul: a state of unremitting melancholy that amounts to a sort of death-within-life. It’s a concept that caught the attention Mexican filmmaker and Oaxaca native Jorge Pérez Solano while his was filming his debut feature Spiral and soon became the driving conceit (and title) behind his follow up feature La Tirisia (Perpetual Sadness), which recently picked up the top prize at Greece’s venerable Thessaloniki International Film Festival.
Following the story of two women in a remote Oaxacan village impregnated by the same man and left to determine the fate of their unwanted and socially marginalized children, La Tirisia eschews dialogue in favor of meditative ambient sound and finds dramatic weight in the power of its poetic cinematography. Yet, despite the film’s small scale, Pérez Solano insists that La Tirisia is much more than an intimate family drama, serving instead as a metaphorical exploration of a Mexico bereft of values and “spirit”, living in a peculiar and unending state of tirisia.
By picking up the Golden Alexander award at Thessaloniki — one of the oldest and most reputable festivals in the world — La Tirisia finds itself in the company of other festival darlings from this most recent wave of Mexican independent cinema, including last year’s winner La Jaula de Oro by Diego Quemada-Diez as well as Japón by Carlos Reygadas, Temporada de patos by Fernando Eimbcke and Sangre by Amat Escalante, all of which picked up prizes ranging from Best Director to the Special Jury Prize in previous editions of the festival. With this latest addition to Mexican cinema’s impressive CV, it’s safe to assume that the country’s internationally lauded production won’t be letting up anytime soon.