[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]The Heiresses
Official Selection – International Fiction Feature
Dir. Marcelo Martinessi
The Richter Scale says: One reaches a point in their life in which they think nothing will change. We get comfortable with the life we’ve built, and we think that it’s going to be like this until the end… until a surprise arrives. Chela (Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irun) have been together for thirty years. Both are descendants from rich families in Asunción and think they’ll be together till Death did them part. When we meet them, they are going through a crisis. They have people in the house looking to buy objects they’re putting up for sale. The fortunes they were left with are running out and now they must sell a lot of what they must pay off debts. They wind up having to separate when Chiquita gets sued for fraud and must spend some time in prison until a judge decides on her fate. During this time apart, Chela, who is introverted and doesn’t like to interact with people, discovers she has been living in this comfort that no longer satisfied with, but wouldn’t get out of it because she was used to it. She establishes a taxi service for older ladies and during that time she met Angy (Ana Ivanova), the daughter of one of her customers who ignites something in her that had been dormant for a long time.
First, one must mention how admirable it is when a movie doesn’t make any commentary about the fact that its main couple is two women. It’s refreshing that we’ve come to a point in which a story can be about one of these couples without the homosexuality being an issue. This is about a couple and the issue addressed is one that is relevant to any couple, not just a homosexual one. Paraguayan director and screenwriter Marcelo Martinessi, directing his first feature film, employs tight shots and yet creates a distance from the character that allows a certain objectivity. Martinessi uses this technique that is commonly used in Darren Aronofsky films, which is to follow the protagonist from the back of the head as they walk. This gives us a visual representation of how Chela distances herself from everyone, since Martinessi doesn’t focus on her face until she starts to open. Even when she’s driving, Martinessi and his cinematographer Luis Armando Arteaga focus more on the passengers than her.
It also helps that this universe is populated by such vivacious characters around Chela, so much that she comes off “bland” in comparison, but Ana Brun never treats her as such, managing a portrait of a person who has never felt the need to come out of her shell, be it out of shyness or conformity. Margarita Irun makes a great impression as Chiquita, a woman who complements Chela perfectly and watching them together, one understands that there used to be a spark between them and there is still a glimpse of a spark, but now it’s kind of forced. Chiquita’s scenes in the prison (including one at a salon where she’s getting her haircut, so tight and lively that we would never guess it’s a prison salon if we weren’t told) are a lot of fun, and they give us a glimpse into what’s going with Chiquita. Ana Ivanova ends up stealing the film. Angy is fun, but also very tender and she brings out the best in Ana Brun by their reactions alone. Chela sees Angy like a treasure she could never have and through her she finds out she wants something more. The Heiresses is a very human film, nailing the way it takes on this time of life and those concerns that, even at that stage in life, something might be missing.
7-25-2018: Juárez Theater – 21:00 hrs[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Land
Official Selection – International Fiction Feature
Dir. Babak Jalali
The Richter Scale says: When will we stop belittling certain populations? Will there be a day in which we can see people beyond the curiosities that come from the traditions and myths around them? We all want to believe there will, but apparently human nature dictates that one must be considered superior, so some population will be considered inferior. Even if that inferiority isn’t always expressed in explicit ways, it’s in the subject of various interactions. Iranian director Babak Jalali explores these tense interactions in a story that happens in a reservation of a Native American tribe and its surroundings. It may sound illogical for a man who was born in Iran, grew up in London and lives between London, Paris and Rome to want to take on an issue that is, in some way, very specific to the United States, but on the other hand, the idea of a marginalized population is quite universal and it’s always interesting to have the point of view of someone outside the specific context. This one also has Mexican producers and was filmed in Mexico.
The Denetclaw family lives in the Prairie Wolf Reservation. This reservation doesn’t allow alcohol, because this is a population that has a huge issue with alcoholism. Wesley (James Coleman), the middle child of three (grown-up sons) spend most of his time in the liquor store closest to the reservation talking to the White family that manages it, mainly Rosie (Antonia Steinberg) the daughter of that family who is interested in the Native American culture. Meanwhile, Raymond Denetclaw (Rod Rondeaux) the oldest son and his mother Mary (Wilma Pelly) find out that Floyd, the youngest son who was in the Army in Afghanistan, was killed in action and the Army is trying to figure out if the family will be compensated what is compensated if the soldier dies in the line of duty, or if he dies disobeying an order (which is not clear). These scenes are the most fascinating in the way we see the discrimination within U.S. bureaucracy and how that harms people. Still, that’s a fight that is out of the Denetclaw’s hands. What is in their hands is when Peter (Andrew J. Katers) and Eli (Griffin Burns) from the liquor store beat up Wesley and send him to the hospital, and now Raymond, who stopped drinking and now takes care of his own family, must do something about his family’s honor.
As it tends to be the case in festival films, it’s a meditative story, one that spends more time exploring the relationships between these characters (most of them based on silence and slow talking) and their relationship with the landscape. What violence there is shot from a distance, something so far away that we can’t reach, even though in this case we know the people who are getting hurt. Cinematographer Agnés Godard highlights the warm colors in this environment filled with dirt, keeping an objective and naturalistic look and the pacing that the director applies gives it a chill when handling the story. There are moving moments (Mary expresses her hope that Wesley will stop drinking when he wants, because Raymond was able to) and details that highlight a certain hope (Rosie asking for a CD of their music=, but in the end, this is a film that portrays an issue that has been relevant ever since American was colonized.
7-25-2018: Juárez Theater, 16:00 hrs