The Film Society of Lincoln Center and Cinema Tropical announced the fourth edition of Neighboring Scenes, the annual festival of contemporary Latin American cinema. Organized by Carlos Gutiérrez and Cecilia Barrionuevo, the fest reads like a healthy snapshot of buzzy Latin American fare, with favorites like Carlos Reygadas (presenting his latest, Our Time) sitting alongside bold new faces like Ewerton Belico and Samuel Marotta (who made a splash with their afro-descendent poetics-inspired Outer Edge). The thirteen features being shown are a perfect excuse for New Yorkers to trek to the Upper West Side and see some of the best cinema the region has to offer.
In addition to features from Bolivia, Uruguay, Mexico, Brazil, and Chile among others, Neighboring Scenes will also be showing various short films. Neighboring Scenes will show a selection of short films by Argentine filmmaker Eduardo Williams, one of the recipients of the 2019 Lincoln Center Awards for Emerging Artists. The program will include the North American premiere of his latest film, Parsi (in collaboration with Mariano Blatt), followed by a Q&A with Williams. In fact, various of the fest’s screenings will be followed by Q&As with their respective directors, allowing audiences to get firsthand accounts of how many of these dazzling films got made.
Check out the full lineup of features below, which include the first Peruvian movie shot entirely in the Aymara language, a narco-dystopian take on Huck Finn, and even an animated docu-horror film about the Pinochet regime.
Neighboring Scenes runs February 22-26, 2019.
Belmonte (Gonzalo Delgado) is preparing for an upcoming exhibition of his work at Montevideo’s National Museum. His paintings are sensual, fantastical, and at times colorful, yet all have a melancholic undertone. A divorced dad, Belmonte has of late been more obsessed with his relationship with his young daughter, Celeste, than with his work, especially as Celeste’s mom is about to have a baby with her new partner.
Juan and Ester (director Carlos Reygadas and his wife, Natalia López) live on their remote cattle ranch with their children. It’s a very calm, private existence — one they both want to protect. The couple has until now enjoyed an open relationship but when Ester falls in love with an American horse trainer (Phil Burgers) who works in the area, she stops sharing details of her affair with Juan. He begins compulsively spying on his wife. The pain of not being in control forces him to question their relationship and he loses himself in turbid, jealous emotions. It’s fascinating when you realize that the director is effectively filming himself secretly watching his real wife’s affair. Gorgeously shot, the film ruminates on life at the ranch, the joy of seeing the children grow up outside, and the beauty and the mess our lives can so quickly become. Through this raw exploration of a couple at a moment of crisis, Reygadas creates a story that is somehow both quotidian yet epic in scope.
Cómprame un revólver
Julio Hernández Cordón’s Cómprame un revolver i set in an imagined not-so-distant future world where women are a disappearing species. That’s why its young protagonist, Huck (played by Matilde Hernandez, the director’s own daughter) wears a mask. If the armed guys who employ her dad to keep up a baseball field ever found out she’s a girl, she’d surely be taken away. That’s what happened to her older sister and her mother. Shot in dusty desert landscapes with an eye for an anarchic sense of whimsy (Mad Max meets Hook), this narco-dystopia is a fascinating riff on contemporary Mexican violence.
Peruvian director Oscar Catacora‘s film is a study in minimalism. It features only two characters: Willka and Phaxsi. The elderly couple spend their days fending for themselves in the Andes, chatting only with one another about days gone by and about the son they hope will return once more to their lives. Set against the foggy verdant mountains of Peru, Willka and Phaxsi’s story is a deeply personal one for Catacora, who grew up with his grandparents in not too dissimilar circumstances.
Muere, monstruo, muere
Rural police officer Cruz investigates the bizarre case of a headless woman’s body found in a remote region by the Andes Mountains. David, the husband of Cruz’s lover Francisca, becomes the prime suspect and is sent to a local mental hospital. David blames the crime to the inexplicable and brutal appearance of the “Monster.” Cruz stumbles on a mysterious theory involving geometric landscapes, mountain motorcyclists and a mantra stuck in his head: Murder Me, Monster.
Chuva é cantoria na aldeia dos mortos
João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora’s hybrid follows Ihjãc (Henrique Ihjãc Krahô), a 15-year-old indigenous Krahô from the north of Brazil, who runs away from home after he is called to direct his deceased father’s spirit to the village of the dead. Denying his tribal duty as a prospective shaman, Ihjãc instead resides in the nearby town of Itacajá against the advice of his wife (Raene Kôtô Krahô) and community. Shot on 16mm by co-director Nader Messora, The Dead and the Others is a dramatically intriguing, richly textured portrait of grief and the threats facing ancient traditions by modern society.
Anchored by a potent ensemble cast led by the brilliant Roxana Campos, Ignacio Juricic Merillán’s assured and understated debut feature follows a 54-year-old neighborhood hairdresser who is asked to appear on an episode of TV show about unsolved mysteries dedicated to the violent death of her lesbian daughter in the streets of Santiago a decade earlier. As she decides whether or not to be participate, she confronts her family and their versions of the events that occurred years ago, learning more about who her daughter was.
A beguiling and enigmatic nocturnal experience, set in the peripheral and desolate spaces of the Brazilian city Belo Horizonte, Ewerton Belico and Samuel Marotta’s debut feature gradually wanders into the dreamlike territory of a trance film. Using afro-descendent poetics in its dialogue and soundtrack—a combination of electro-funk and contemporary versions of ancient chants—Outer Edge follows its characters through a labyrinthine circuit of chance encounters to evoke a city haunted by its past. Belico and Marotta, along with director of photography Leonardo Feliciano, capture an atmosphere of madness and despair with an exquisite, clear-eyed sense of place.
Nona. Si me mojan, yo los quemo.
As with her previous features, Naomi Campbel and Casa Roshell, Chilean filmmaker Camila José Donoso’s richly detailed film fully immerses the viewer in its world, mixing digital, video, and 16mm to portray its beautifully ambivalent subject. At 66, Nona (Josefina Ramirez, José Donoso’s grandmother) lives alone and is recuperating from cataract surgery while a mysterious fire rages across southern Chile and generates unrest in her otherwise sleepy town. Capturing her routines and relationships while folding in past memories and a violent pathology with the present, Nona. If they soak me, I’ll burn them. is as much an allegory of contemporary Chile as it is a deeply personal character study.
Alfredo Ovando Candia was a military general who served as Co-President of Bolivia from 1965–66 (and again from 1969–70) after overthrowing sitting President Víctor Paz Estenssoro. His political and military service connected him to the largest massacre of workers in the country’s history, as well as the military campaign in which Che Guevara was killed. Incorporating archival footage recorded during Ovando’s de facto government, home movies, and interviews with relatives, filmmaker Mauricio Alfredo Ovando’s debut feature studies the many profiles of his grandfather to juxtapose his family’s memories with the official history. Still Burn is a courageous, perceptive documentary about how collective and personal memories are created from—and ultimately shape—a complicated legacy.
Vendrán lluvias suaves
A remarkable ensemble of young nonprofessional actors leads Argentine director Iván Fund’s latest feature—an oneiric vision of the apocalypse in which a strange incident sends the adults of a working-class neighborhood into an everlasting slumber. Left to their own devices, the town’s children gradually adapt to a peculiar new world that remains largely undisturbed by mankind’s absence. Fund draws inspiration from Sara Teasdale’s 1918 poem of the same name, lucidly translating the imagery and themes of the original text into a lyrical film about the regenerative, blissful elements of nature in the aftermath of calamity.
Una corriente salvaje
The third feature by Spanish-born director Nuria Ibáñez (The Tightrope, The Naked Room) follows Chilo and Omar, who seem to be the only two men on earth. They live on a solitary beach in the desert-like landscape of Baja California and fish to survive. A Wild Stream is an engrossing portrait of the human condition, as well as an unusual and quirky bromance.
La Casa Lobo
Evoking Colonia Dignidad, an infamous torture colony operating during the Pinochet regime, The Wolf House is an animated film unlike any other, an exquisitely handcrafted surrealist docu-horror-fairy tale about one of Chile’s darkest periods. It begins with Mary, a young girl who hides in a mysterious house in southern Chile after escaping from a sect of German religious fanatics. Using stop-motion techniques and combining elements of various fables, photography, drawing, sculpture, and stage performance, Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León have created a nightmarish shapeshifter of a film.