Local movie buffs are used to turning to the occasional film showcases for a taste of something different from the latest Hollywood releases screening at virtually every theatre near you.
The coming week, however, features not one but three such events, setting the scene for a multi-course menu of Portuguese treats, movies about the pitfalls of migration and the yearly bonus of horror films for genre fans.
From December 5 through 7, the Alliance Française and the Italian Institute of Culture will be the venues of the Global Migration Film Festival, an international event organized by the UN’s International Organisation for Migration with the help of the European Union National Institutes for Culture. Created as a showcase of films “that capture the promise and challenges of migration for those who leave their homes in search of a better life and the contributions they make to their new communities,” the event includes compelling documentaries, such as Lost in Lebanon, by sisters Georgia and Sophia Scott, who went to Lebanon in 2014 and spent two-and-a-half years following four Syrian refugees.
They are among the 1.5 million people who fled the savage conflict in their country and sought refuge in Lebanon and the film shows their journey, from the infamous Palestinian refugee camp of Shatila in Beirut to refugee camps set farther north.
In Nana, Tatiana Fernández Geara explores the painful journey of nannies from the Dominican Republic who leave their homes to care for other people’s kids, while their own children are the care of family members. The feature documentary, which follows two such women who leave their children to be raised by relatives as they become live-in nannies, switches back and forth between urban and rural settings to show the substitution and duplication of the bonds that grow between children and their nannies, and between the nannies’ own children and the relatives who care for them.
A local feature, The Argentine Jerusalem, by Melina Serber, takes viewers to Moisés Ville, a small rural town in the pampas where the last descendants of Jewish gauchos share their legacy with tourists while awaiting the Cultural Integration Festival, a new event meant to redefine this remote and peculiar place in the world.
Between December 6 and 10, the fifth edition of the Portuguese film showcase offers a menu of screenings, conferences and talks held at MALBA and the Film University.
Pedro Pinho’s first feature The Nothing Factory, winner of the Fipresci prize in Cannes this year, comes up with a fresh approach to class struggle in today’s world as a group of workers at a lift factory begins to fear losing their jobs when they discover that the management has been carting off machinery under cover of darkness. However, when the executives disappear, leaving behind a half-empty factory, the film turns to wry humour in its approach of the workers’ plight.
The financial crisis looms large in the line-up of the Portuguese film showcase: Teresa Villaverde looks at a family struggling to scrape by in Colo, and Marco Martins’ Saint George focuses on a boxer-turned-debt collector who has to fight hard to keep his wife and son from leaving the country during the European troika bailout measures, with their painful effect on the debts of individuals, which were sold in bulk to debt collection agencies.
A particular boon comes in João Pedro Rodrigues’ 2016 masterpiece The Ornithologist, recipient of the Best Director award at Locarno. This daring, visually-arresting film focuses on an ornithologist studying black storks in Portugal, who is drawn into a series of incidents paralleling the life of Saint Anthony of Lisbon, a Portuguese Catholic priest and friar of the Franciscan order who is the patron saint of finding lost people and things.
The leading showcase of horror, fantasy and bizarre cinema Rojo Sangre is coming of age with its 18th edition, which kicked off yesterday to be held until December 10 at the Multiplex theatres in downtown BA and Belgrano.
The horror movie fest this year features an open talk with Mick Garris, the director and writer behind Masters of Horrors and Fear Itself, and a regular collaborator of Stephen King in films such as Sleepwalkers, and the TV versions of The Stand, The Shining and Riding the Bullet.
On the festival’s menu are productions such as Yoshihiro Nishimura’s long-awaited sequel to the acclaimed sci-fi action horror Meatball Machine. Meatball Machine Kodoku is a cyberpunk comedy in which the villainous Necro-borg turn unsuspecting humans into killing machines.
Other must-see films for genre fans: Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight, by Alan Lo, hailed as Hong Kong’s answer to the South Korean thriller Train to Busan; Bill Waterson’s directorial debut Dave Made a Maze, a whimsical fantasy about a man who gets lost and must be rescued from a living-room labyrinth of his own making; Simeon Halligan’s Habit, an adaptation of Steven McGeagh’s cult novel, set in a neon-drenched dystopian Manchester; Replace, by Norbert Keil, a film about a young girl whose skin starts to age rapidly crumble away until she discovers that she can replace her own skin with somebody else’s; and the feature directorial debut of French filmmaker Mathieu Turi Hostile, an intriguing post-apocalyptic creature-feature.
The line-up of Rojo Sangre also includes the latest releases which have garnered international acclaim, such as Joachim Trier’s supernatural lesbian horror-thriller film Thelma, Norway’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2018 Oscars. A quiet and evocative film, Thelma tells the story of a young college student who starts to realize she has strange, telekinetic powers.
From this year’s Tribeca comes The Endless, by de Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, a genre hybrid about two brothers who return to the cult they fled from years ago to discover that the group’s beliefs may be more sane than they once thought.
Joe Lynch’s Mayhem is a horror comedy about a virus spreading through an office complex which causes white collar workers to act out their worst impulses.