Austin Film Festival: Beast of Cardo

Greek mythology and magical realism converge in this drama

With touches of magical realism and an insightful view of a suffocating high society, Beast of Cardo is a beguiling drama with arresting imagery, strong performances, and some interesting allegory.

We first meet Moira (Virginia Sanchez Navarro) in the back of a taxi, and she does not look happy. A grad student in New York, she’s returning to Cardo, a town in the Dominican Republic where she grew up. It is the Christmas season, so perhaps she’s returning for the holidays, but the reason is never explicitly made clear. She is the daughter of one of the two upper-class families who hold sway in the town. Years ago, she fled, perhaps because of a scandalous fling, perhaps in pursuit of higher education, but now she has returned, and the oppression hits her immediately. Surrounded by domineering parents and gossipy relatives and hangers-on, she finds respite in a burgeoning friendship with a gay tailor, Hermes (Jorge Luis Moreno), who is gunning for a spot in the yearly fashion competition run by the head of the rival family, Onelia (Karina Noble). The two form an unlikely bond, and Hermes (true to his name) may hold the key to Moira’s escape.

Beast of Cardo oscillates between keen social commentary and fantastical drama. Writer/director/actor Navarro blends various fairy tale tropes with a fatalistic view of a parochial society that is eating its own tail. Some of the imagery veers toward metaphoric heavy-handedness, but overall, the film is an entrancing dissection of the idle and self-absorbed elite that also dips into mythology, allegory, and nudges against the fourth wall. Beast of Cardo is an ambitious first feature, and if this is indicative of films coming from the burgeoning film industry of the Dominican Republic, there is much to be hopeful for.

Beast of Cardo screens again on Monday, Oct. 27, 9:30pm, at the Galaxy Highland Theatre.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Austin Film Festival 2014
AFF Announces Audience Awards
AFF Announces Audience Awards
The viewers have spoken

Marjorie Baumgarten, Nov. 4, 2014

Austin Film Festival: Jon Stewart Closes Out Fest
Austin Film Festival: Jon Stewart Closes Out Fest
Jon Stewart caps his week in Austin with Rosewater debut

Fernie Martinez, Oct. 31, 2014

More by Josh Kupecki
Wild Nights With Emily
Molly Shannon breaks the myth of the staid Emily Dickinson with this vibrant biopic

April 19, 2019

New French Cinema Week Displays a Nation’s Artistic Resilience
New French Cinema Week Displays a Nation’s Artistic Resilience
Vive la nouvelle France at AFS Cinema

April 19, 2019


Austin Film Festival 2014, Virginia Sanchez Navarro, Beast of Cardo, AFF 2014

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle