Latin America is Throbbing

in 36th Mar del Plata International Film Festival

by Pedro Almeida Tavares

If there is any advantage in being a member of the jury from a distance, it is the chance to unite with colleagues from different parts of the world and discuss, from the diverse experiences, viewpoints, and nature of each member, the Latin American films in the 36th edition of the Mar del Plata Film Festival. A plural selection with diverse approaches, readings and themes.
From this rich selection we chose 9, by Martín Berrenechea and Nicólas Branca, as the winner of the FIPRESCI award.

The film portrays enchantment with simplicity as it relates the routine of a Uruguayan soccer player who serves a suspension and who, in this period of time, gets involved with routine movements and discovers a life beyond the spotlight.

The high level of approach and variety in the Mar del Plata selection calls my attention to the fact that the films don’t talk to each other even when you emulate a marathon festival by watching three or four films in a row. Perhaps, what can call a spectre of unity is the feeling of non-conformism. Whether it’s in the relationship represented by the sea in La Encomienda (2021), by Pablo Giorgelli, the art-capital relationship in Yo y Las Bestias (2021) by Nico Manzano, or a great lament through the value of images and power of narrative in The Sky is Red (El cielo está rojo, 2020) by Francina Carbonell.

The selection also addresses the necessary feminist drive before the world in Inés María Barrionuevo’s Camila Comes Out Tonight (2021); mourning and denial are given a fantastic approach in Jesús López (2021) by Maximiliano Schonfeld and in the newest film by Iván Fund, called Dusk Stone (Piedra noche, 2021), with a kind of daring in uniting genre with a lyrical approach that perhaps has M. Night Shyamalan as its great representative nowadays; and the nature of non-conformism in Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People (Bob Cuspe: Nós não gostamos de gente, 2021), a Brazilian animation that, per se, refuses to pay homage to the cartoonist Angeli when it makes a film about one of his characters and puts him on a couch to question his own career while Bob Cuspe, a punk par excellence, tries to free the world from the bonds of conservatism that, through false happiness, destroy nations.

I am very happy to see that Latin America, one of the places most affected by the pandemic and the economic crisis, is throbbing with production and shouts for freedom. While some suggest that fire can cure everything, there are those who choose to patiently rebuild what was destroyed by dictators and genocides. It is movements like this one registered by the Mar Del Plata Festival that prove a course in relation to resistance, be it by the simple act of production while politicians fight for their cultural ministries to be destroyed or to transform their narratives, whether forged by a genre or not, as an essay about the times we live in.

And there’s nothing like a festival to bring a snapshot of our times right now.

Pedro Tavares
Edited by Amber Wilkinson