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January 26, 2017
5 Essential Films at FSLC’s Neighboring Scenes

For the second consecutive year, the Film Society of Lincoln Center presents Neighboring Scenes (January 26-31), a showcase of contemporary Latin American cinema featuring 15 films from 9 different countries. This year half the films were directed by female filmmakers from places like Colombia and Brazil, making Neighboring Scenes an essential tool in the current conversation about diversity and the importance of Latin Americans in the US. Two of our critics selected five films they deemed essential from this year's masterful crop:

La ultima tierra_Pablo Lamar_Still_2La última tierra

Pablo Lamar’s debut feature is filled with the confidence of a master of the form, as he takes on mortality through barebones symbolism. The film follows a man as he does preparations for a cremation ritual (we see an elderly woman die in the first few minutes of the film, but we don’t know who she is and why he’s with her) which Lamar interspersed with shots of nature - mostly water and fire - giving the film the majesty of a Malick experiment. Its lack of dialogue might prove a challenge, but the film rewards those who are ready to give into its meditative nature. - Jose Solís

jesusJesus

Despite his widowed father's (Alejandro Goic) pleading to straighten up and go back to school, Jesus (Nicolas Duran) is satisfied with carousing around town all day with his buddies—until a disastrous night of drunken revelry leads him and his friends to commit a despicable crime. With the police on their tails, Jesus' friendships whither away leaving his father as his only ally. Director Fernando Guzzoni's challenging depiction of youth gone astray is graphic and upsetting. It's difficult to sympathize with any of the teenagers in this film but it's watching an only child constantly disappoint his father that jabs hardest into the heart. - Joseph Hernandez

soleilnoir4Black Sun

Director Laura Huertas Millán understands drama, one could even say it runs in her family. In this moving portrait of addiction she focuses on her aunt Antonia, an opera singer who has become an addict. When we first meet her she is giving voice lessons to a handsome young man, and from her authoritative stance and sense of self, we would never guess she’s living in a personal hell. The film explores her sadness without reducing her to the kind of clichés that would make a professional actress win awards for playing her. - Jose Solís

animalDark Animal

Three women residing in different areas of Colombia must claw their way out of hellish living conditions to start anew. Ingeniously displaying the wrath of war through multiple under seen perspectives, each lady's journey of survival is fraught with danger and hopeful moments of solidarity. Stripping all protagonists of dialogue, the film's masterfully composed cinematography, lush sound design and patient editing tell you all you need to know. Dark Animal is a testament to the strength and resilience of women who have survived the most violent of times while being denied a voice. - Joseph Hernandez

26A Decent Woman

In the vein of The Lobster and Alps, this deadpan comedy by Lukas Rinner focuses on what happens when two communities engage in a battle over their values. One of them is a posh gated community filled with luxury and decadence, the other a group of nudists who seem to live among the trees, only waiting to fulfill their most basic needs. At the center of it all is a mischievous maid who is hired by a rich woman, only to be seduced by the nudists next door. Rinner’s observations on class are pithy without being preachy, and the film’s sensuous cinematography does make us see who the filmmaker is rooting for, but there is a sense of dread in the film that permeates even during its most hilarious moments. Rinner understands the fine line between comedy and horror. - Jose Solís

For more information on the films, as well as tickets, visit: http://www.filmlinc.org/festivals/neighboring-scenes/

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Written by: Jose Solis
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