Day 1

in 12nd Lima Latin American Film Festival

by Natalia Graciela Ames

Albertina Carri, “La rabia”

Albertina Carri, director of documentary The Blonds (Los rubios, 2003) and Gemini (Géminis, 2005), presents us La rabia, a town where violence and adultery go along with daily actions. Here we know Nati, an unexplainably mute girl who screams madly and gets undressed in front of everybody. Her parents Alejandra and Poldo will be guilty for this, when she perceives scenes of domestic abuse and sadomasochistic infidelities. Through raw images of family assault and against animals, the film accomplishes a shock effect that left many with a distressful tension during its ninety minutes. Including me.

Nevertheless, La rabia is a movie whose title is finally too big for it. It lacks the depth and volume offered by Mathieu Kassovitz’ Hate (La Haine) to connect violence with its roots. There is no relation with the economic or political situation in the Argentinean pampas, resulting in a movie overflowing glorified cruelty, shallow in every sense. The more blows given and pigs peeled, the least we believed in Carri. We have to give her credit, however, for keeping on the edge of the ordinary, alternating formats with abstract animations in order to enter in the mind of disturbed Nati. But these sequences tend to pass the proper length and interrupt the flow of the film.

It is also important to highlight Sol Lopatin’s cinematography, whose powerful images of the pampas are juxtaposed with the fierceness of the characters to effectively transcend the idea of the anger as something natural and inexorable between the lead actors. On the other hand, neither the convincing performance by Nazarena Duarte as Nati, nor the appearance of Dalma Maradona accomplish to give strength to a movie which does not only lacks answers, but also questions. With its captivating title, La rabia would seem to me a brutal study — with causes and effects — of violence in Argentinean rural communities. Finally I found an authentic gaucho thriller, filled with sex, death and revenge, but without the capacity of transmitting something beyond that. (Enrique Valdez)

An Interview with Pablo Trapero

About the story of a trapped lioness. Leonera, the last movie by Pablo Trapero, deals with maternity. But it is not the typical story about the love of a mother toward her son. The Argentinean director, born in 1971, shows an instinctive, strong and overprotective maternity, almost animalistic. From the opening song, sang by children, a tender yet scary environment is created. Since then, we enter the story of Julia Zárate (played by Martina Gusmán, Trapero’s wife), who has killed the father of her child and is sent to prison. There, the mother, the lioness, does everything what is possible in order to stay with her cub.

Why did you portray maternity this way?

What moved me the most when making Leonera was precisely something visceral, hence the title. The movie has to do with a symbiotic relation between mom and kid. Things as breastfeeding, pregnancy and all that process make motherly bond really strong. That is why the idea was to focus on those first years of the baby’s life, when the bond is closer.

How does Leonera relates to you?

All the process of pregnancy of my wife Martina, the birth of my son Mateo and his first years of life always moved me a lot. I knew that in some moment I would have to tell something like this.

When you decided to shoot a movie on maternity, did you think about other stories?

Yes, I had other stories, but they all resulted slowly in Leonera. One of them was called The Hostage Son. It was about a boy in the middle of a legal problem originated by their parents breaking up. I may film it someday.

Your films tend to have direct references to reality. Have you thought about filming documentaries?

Yes, in fact during the process of Leonera I filmed a short documentary called Intersections. It deals precisely with the limits between the inside and the outside of jail. I really like documentaries. Some time ago I filmed an experiment of a documentary called Naikor, la estación de servicio.

(Interview by Miguel Ángel Farfán)

Fernando Eimbcke, “Lake Tahoe”

Everybody can have a problem like the one we see in Lake Tahoe. Juan is a kid who seeks help for his crashed car. He meets a man and a girl who work in a repair shop with another kid. Finding the piece for the car would not mean anything compared to the journey Juan will have in their world. Sometimes, it seems these world has no way out. Finally he repairs his car and accepts those who have helped him and their lives as parts of his own one.

Sometimes unpleasant things have to be done, as Juan did when he stole the piece from some kind relatives who were distracted giving him gifts while the kid from the repair shop took it. Sometimes not everybody understands us, as Juan’s attitude to be out rather than at home, where grief is in the air after his father’s death. Each experience is a life lesson. Actually, Juan repairs the car alone, without much help. In this moment the viewer feels that all the withdrawn and anguished emotions release, becoming comforting feelings of control and accomplishment. Juan learned how to live.

In the beginning, we see scenes Juan seeks for help, but he does not find anybody. He calls home, but he cannot communicate with his mother. However, we see some time later, in the same scenes, characters and dialogues meaning signs of life.

The prolonged silences and black screens for extended periods transmit emotions. They indicate long moments where there is no communication between Juan and the other characters.

In this movie the viewer feels the uncertainty and the despair whuch Juan does not express because he is shy. Those who helped him recognized it. This is why everybody asks him favors. The man asks him to take his dog for a walk. The girl asks him to take care of her child while she goes to a concert. The kid asks him to go together to a martial arts movie. Juan ends up always accepting, even if he denies it at the beginning. It is because he also needs to repair his life. (Ximena Esqueche)

José Padilha, “The Elite Squad” (1)

So close to reality as possible, because it overcomes any fiction, the film begins with a quotation about social conduct. We read that people behave according to the determination of their environment. In these terms, the director shows the theorization of his thoughts. The Elite Squad is the special police of Brazil, incorruptible and effective, in charge of counteracting all the acts of violence where police is totally incapable. Ironically, violence is fought with violence.

Rio de Janeiro, 1997. We hear Captain Nascimento’s reflections explaining the police “circuit” defined by corruption, indolence and paranoia of an environment permanently in war. In it, Neto and Matías, childhood friends and novice cops, will realize that the law is very different to the one they defend. Their characters are gray. For the police, making what is good has a cost paid by drug dealers, resulting in a state of tense calm. The whole film causes precisely this sensation. We are calm as long as people pay and confess, but we should be alert because in any moment someone will take advantage of the slightest distraction.

In a documentary style (as the previous works of José Padilha), the incompatibility of the different social groups is portrayed. The film is a critical work; it does not only criticize the police but also the drug dealers and the higher classes. It shows us this vicious circle: drug dealing, weapons and money for corruption. Each one feeding the other, without any group being able to do something to change reality.

The Elite Squad (Tropa de Elite) is a film which should be seen in an attentive way. It is the first fiction film by the director, it has won the Golden Bear for the Best Film in Berlinale 2008, and it has been seen by millions in the theaters. (Flor Preciado)

José Padilha, “The Elite Squad” (2)

The Elite Squad (Tropa de elite) is one of those movies which from the beginning to the end keep the viewer in uneasiness. The story is set in the Brazilian favelas of the nineties and it shows how a selected group of courageous fighters from the police force faces drug dealers and thugs. This is a movie from our own reality, from a society dominated by corruption in all the levels of power. Nascimento, the commander of the elite, must enter the favela with his soldiers risking everything, with his beating heart between the lips, absorbing perhaps his last breaths of air. The film allows us to enter in a disturbing world, in which nothing has a certain existence. The threat comes from policemen, drug dealers or delinquents who want to perform their own law, showing their physical and moral degradation, with miserable landscapes, extreme violence acts, corrupt policemen, men, women and children immersed in a situation without escape.

José Padilha, the director, approaches us to the favelas and its unbearable crudeness. This is a sub-world inhabited by unscrupulous characters, suburbs which are houses and hideouts at the same time, overcrowded groups of people and hectic nights. Suddenly, the streets become a fight place and create an atmosphere of uncertainty and latent climax.

The camera moves always too quickly, with images passing one after another which seem to blow up in front of our eyes. However, by the half of the movie, in the scenes of rigorous preparation given to the elite soldiers, the director offers us a moment of escape, and we pass instantly, from anguish and threat, to the collective delirium coming out from the seats.

This is not a movie for weak souls. When we go to see it, we should have in mind that we are between two forces, that we go ready and prepared as those soldiers willing to defeat and defend their lives, before the fire of the weapons and the commotion finish with us over our seats. (Julisa Espinoza)