Festival Picks

Cine las Americas previews

<i>Amorosa Soledad (Lovely Loneliness)</i>
Amorosa Soledad (Lovely Loneliness)

Amorosa Soledad (Lovely Loneliness)

D: Martin Carranza, Victoria Galardi; with Inés Efron, Nicolás Pauls, Fabián Vena (Argentina)

There's no one way to recover from heartbreak, but Soledad (Efron) takes an especially eccentric route when her musician boyfriend abruptly breaks it off: Her shell shock and grief are manifest in a hypochondria that regularly sends her to the doctor with imagined heart palpitations. An ever-teary Soledad swears off men, making a vow to be content with solo vacations and the antiques shop she runs with friends (a vow she almost immediately breaks). The shop, as well as Soledad's apartment and her eclectic wardrobe, are all well-appointed, and the meticulousness of the film's art design is as engaging as Efron, with her nimbus of curls and almost childlike plainness of expression. Her character, however, tries one's patience: When Soledad "solves" the problem of a broken toilet by turning it into an end table (rather than simply calling a plumber), the inventiveness of her solution can't quite absolve her irritating infantilism. – K.J.

Wednesday, April 21, 7pm, Alamo Drafthouse South

Viajo Porque Preciso, Volto Porque Te Amo (I Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You)

D: Marcelo Gomes, Karim Aïnouz; with Irandhir Santos (Brazil)

Part travelogue, part photomontage, the images within this poetic trip through Brazil's scrublands were collected over a decade by directors Aïnouz and Gomes (who previously collaborated on the Cannes prize-winning Cinema, Aspirinas e Urubus.) Now the footage has been bound together by the voice of the unnamed and unseen narrator (Santos) to blend travel journalism and existential voyage. A geologist surveying the route for a new canal, his commentary is initially a love letter to his wife. Yet as road-weariness takes its toll, he strays from his appointed task into remote villages, craftsmen's workshops, and prostitutes' beds. The narrator shoots with a geologist's eye, rarely engaging in conversation and treating his human subjects like landscapes. Yet the almost funereal pace evokes a certain still-life beauty as the road trip becomes a journey to self-awareness. – R.W.

Wednesday, April 28, 7pm, Alamo Drafthouse South

Barking Water

D: Sterlin Harjo; with Casey Camp-Horinek, Richard Ray Whitman (USA)

What could be a gloomy road movie turns out to be an exceptionally beautiful look at love and death. Frankie (Whitman) has terminal cancer. Irene (Camp-Horinek) is the friend he calls to help him return home for his final goodbyes. She complies, but as their journey progresses, it's revealed that their relationship is more than platonic, and their love for each other is beyond a storybook romance. Together, they savor the small things that make life sweet – Frankie solemnly aware of each passing moment while Irene serves as his sounding board, companion, witness, and bullshit detector. Camp-Horinek and Whitman carry the film on their able shoulders, offering understated performances amid the predominantly Native American cast. What finally emerges is a meditation on the end of life and a look at male-female relationships rarely seen in popular culture: one that transcends the physical, revealing the meaning of unconditional love. – Belinda Acosta

Wednesday, April 28, 8pm, Metropolitan
<i>Tres dies amb la família (Three Days With the Family)</i>
Tres dies amb la família (Three Days With the Family)

Tres dies amb la família (Three Days With the Family)

D: Mar Coll; with Nausicaa Bonnín, Eduard Fernández, Francesc Orella (Spain)

This first feature by Spanish filmmaker Coll shows her to be a writer and director with keen observational powers and rich insight into what makes human beings tick: Families can both sustain and stymie individual growth, a fact that can make envelopment within one's family circle either a blessing or a curse, or some of both. The film opens with the return home of Léa (Bonnín) upon the death of the family patriarch. Bit by bit, over the course of a wake, mass, and funeral, details about the lives of two generations of these various bourgeois family members are disclosed. The manner in which information is gradually doled out imbues the film with a sense of perpetual enlightenment as it continually adds to our store of knowledge and understanding, helping to shape our overall comprehension of the individuals and their places in the family gestalt. Without taking sides, Coll's film gracefully manages to show us both the inner view and the overview. – Marjorie Baumgarten

Sunday, April 25, 6pm, Metropolitan

Norteado (Northless)

D: Rigoberto Pérezcano; with Harold Torres, Alicia Laguna, Sonia Couoh, Luis Cárdenas (Mexico/Spain)

The first word we hear in Norteado is spoken by a border guard, in English, and well into the movie: "Next." Implicit in the word and the guard's tone is that Andrés (Torres), who has been caught crossing the border from Mexico to the U.S., is merely one in an endless, faceless line of people routinely crossing, being turned back, crossing again. Pérezcano's narrative feature debut then sets about working against that notion. Unlike so many features and documentaries about the border, it focuses on one would-be immigrant – Andrés – and his life and relationships while he's stranded in Tijuana, making repeated attempts to cross. Norteado is a quiet film, full of such carefully composed and lovely cinematography that it feels at times like a pastoral. Its actions are small and unfold slowly, but it's full of emotional resonance and beauty. – Cindy Widner

Monday, April 26, 9:45pm, Alamo Drafthouse South
<i>Chamaco (The Kid)</i>
Chamaco (The Kid)

Chamaco (The Kid)

D: Miguel Necoechea; with Martin Sheen, Álex Perea, Kirk Harris (Mexico/USA)

Abner (Perea) is at the center of a group of young people living a hardscrabble life in Mexico City. His sister is a streetwalker, his girlfriend sells drugs, his best friend is a male prostitute, and Abner does bare-knuckled fistfighting in an underground operation where the rules are lax. Abner dreams of being a professional boxer; unfortunately, he has more ambition than money, and the owner of the boxing gym that could take Abner under his wing waves him off as a nuisance. Abner finally gets to train with a professional boxer, the son of a doctor (Sheen) who has dedicated his practice to caring for street kids. He sees the value of Abner's dream but laments the cost. The tidy conclusion of all the intertwined stories is disheartening, but watching the enthusiastic, youthful cast led by Perea, alongside the more seasoned Sheen, is appealing. – B.A.

Thursday, April 29, 7pm, Alamo Drafthouse South

El Vuelco del cangrejo (Crab Trap)

D: Oscar Ruíz Navia; with Arnobio Salazar Rivas, Rodrigo Vélez (Colombia)

As Daniel (Vélez) arrives in the coastal Colombian village of La Barra, the questions surrounding his motives and those of the townspeople start piling up. Who is the girl in the picture that Daniel carries with him, and why is he so hellbent on continuing his endless journey? Why is his young guide eyeing his money? Why is the white guy in town both reviled and feared? Director Navia lets the camera rest on these characters and the other residents of La Barra, giving the audience a taste of the town's glacial pace. The political upheaval and violence elsewhere in the country couldn't seem further away as the entirety of the film is spent waiting for the fishermen to return. There's little else to do but play soccer on the beach, talk about women, and get sucked into the unique dynamics of a struggling village. Most questions remain unanswered, but Navia leaves us with a beautiful and resonating snapshot of a world nearly forgotten. – James Renovitch

Saturday, April 24, 6pm, Metropolitan
<i>Los Viajes Del Viento (The Wind Journeys)</i>
Los Viajes Del Viento (The Wind Journeys)

Los Viajes Del Viento (The Wind Journeys)

D: Ciro Guerra; with Marciano Martinez, Yull Núñez (Colombia/Germany/Argentina/the Netherlands)

Possibly the best bewitched squeezebox-cum-Leone/Jodorowsky/magical-realist homage ever to come out of Colombia (a niche market, to be sure, but one with seemingly infinite possibilities), Ciro Guerra's second feature is spellbinding in every sense of the word. It has a deceptively simple plot: Grieving from the death of his wife, aging juglar (traveling musician) Ignacio (entirely effective nonactor Martinez) embarks on a fraught journey to return his beloved accordion to his mentor in a faraway village. He reluctantly allows grubby but good-hearted local kid Fermín to accompany him on his trip, and, predictably, the two bond along the way, but that's the only remotely predictable thing in Guerra's remarkable film. Featuring a one-of-a-kind accordion battle that makes the dance-off in Michael Jackson/Martin Scorcese's "Bad" music video look positively Victorian by comparison and enough cinematographically epic compositions to make Terrence Malick envious, The Wind Journeys is muy excelente. – Marc Savlov

Tuesday, April 27, 8pm, Metropolitan

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Festival director Jean Anne Lauer explains what makes the fest unique and universal

Richard Whittaker, April 27, 2018

On the Scene With Cine Las Americas
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The festival director talks about finding international emerging voices and programming in the age of piracy

Dan Solomon, April 12, 2013

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Cine las Americas, Amorosa Soledad, Lovely Loneliness, Viajo Porque Preciso, Volto Porque Te Amo, I Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You, Barking Water, Los Viajes del Viento, The Wind Journeys, Tres Dies amb la Família, Three Days With the Family, Chamaco, Norteado, Northless, El Vuelco del Cangrejo, Crab Trap

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