Next up from the Panorama Stream are the films from Latin America, the UK, and USA. These films are part of our popular Contemporary World Cinema series and a great display of the festival’s committed to bringing visions from all around the world to its audience. We can’t wait for you to travel far and wide with these films but for now travel just below where all the trailers are parked…
At the End of the Tunnel
Referencing Reservoir Dogs, Rear Window, The Maltese Falcon and more, Rodrigo Grande’s visually stylish and nastily entertaining thriller revels in its clever plot twists and reversals. After hearing voices on the other side of his basement wall, a paraplegic (Leonardo Sbaraglia) installs a camera and discovers a plot to rob a bank—and sees that his female boarder is deeply involved… “An expertly paced caper film with enough twists and turns to keep audiences in a heightened state of suspense.”- Variety
The Desert Bride
The wonderful Paulina García, best actress winner for Gloria at Berlin 13, stars as Teresa, maid to the same family for three decades, who finds herself out of a job. En route to her new position in distant San Juan (in the western Argentinean desert), her bus breaks down, leading to a chance encounter and possibilities she’d never even dreamt of before… “A delicate late-life love story that is also a tale about the empowerment of a woman who has lived her whole life in the shadow of others.”- Screen
Last Days in Havana
Fernando Pérez’s tragicomic tale expertly captures Havana’s faded glory while detailing the lives of those caught up in uncertain times. Exuberant Diego (Jorge Martinez) has AIDS and is confined to his bed; lifelong friend Miguel (Patricio Wood) is a dishwasher who takes care of his every need. When Diego’s spunky (and pregnant) 15-year-old niece Yusi (Gabriela Ramos) arrives on the scene, his days liven up considerably… “A touching celebration of love, devotion and stoical endurance.”- Screen
Rare is a film like Cocote, Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias’ fascinating opus. Learning of his father’s murder, Alberto treks across the Dominican Republic to participate in death rituals that offend his evangelical sensibilities. As his family plots revenge and the ritual becomes more boisterous, Alberto’s agitation grows, with this restlessness mirrored by shifting film stocks and a barrage of camera styles. Cocote “speaks to a country’s irrepressible urge to give free rein to emotion…”- Slant
In Marcela Said’s (The Summer of Flying Fish, VIFF 13) icily effective drama, wealthy upper class married woman Mariana (a nuanced Antonia Zegers) is drawn to her riding instructor Juan (Alfredo Castro), known as “The Colonel.” Her infatuation doubles when she learns he is being investigated for human rights abuses during the Pinochet era. Used to getting her own way, Mariana is unprepared for what comes next… “Supremely assured and intriguing… Said’s precise filmmaking… rivets the attention.”- Variety
The Dragon Defence
The shabby bars, cafés, chess clubs and casinos of Bogotá serve as the atmospheric setting for Natalia Santa’s winsome debut, a tale of three amiable, middle-aged losers that plays like Latin-flavoured Kaurismäki. Samuel (Gonzalo de Sagarminaga) ekes out a living playing chess for cash and, like his two friends, seems resigned to his lot—but is he really…? “This wry, compassionate female perspective on some uncomfortably familiar midlife male traits… repays the viewer in deadpan charm.”- Hollywood Reporter
Clara, a lonely, lower-class black nurse from the outskirts of São Paulo, is hired by the mysterious, wealthy and white Ana to be the nanny of her unborn child. The two women develop an unlikely bond, which, under the full moon, eventually becomes sexual. But all is not well with Ana, and a fateful night changes their plans and alters the film itself. Creating a dreamy, stylized São Paulo, Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra tell their story as a political fairy tale, creating a warped Walt Disney film.
Gabriel and the Mountain
While on a long trip that culminated in an explorVation of parts of Africa, director Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa’s friend Gabriel Buchmann died on a mountain in Malawi. Buchmann (winningly played by João Pedro Zappa) was a generous and friendly idealist who gave away large parts of his budget, and Barbosa sensitively dramatizes his story, enlisting the help of those who knew Buchmann to play themselves. Gorgeously shot, “this uplifting drama… [is] a moving look at the transformative nature of travel…”- Screen
Set in 1820s Brazil, Daniela Thomas’ first solo directorial effort (she co-directed three films with Walter Salles) centres on mine owner Antonio (Adriano Carvalho), a widower whose ineffectual colonial ways and fading estate, powered by increasingly rebellious slaves, mirror the decline of Portuguese fortunes in general. “[A] striking study of racial and gender politics in colonial Brazil… The arresting black-and-white cinematography and the intriguing, textured sound design [are] first rate.”- Screen
Tales of Mexico
The eight enthralling narratives that make up this kaleidoscopic anthology film are anchored by the single studio apartment that serves as their shared setting. Over a hundred-year span, we witness the growing pains of a Mexico in flux, with revolution and human trafficking but two sources of conflict. Remarkable cinematography turns the same room into eight unique time capsules, and accomplished performances led by Irenè Jacob (Three Colors: Red) transform this into a visceral experience.
Swallows and Amazons
Pippa Lowthorpe’s loving adaptation of Arthur Ransome’s 1930 novel is a delightful throwback, a Tom Sawyer-like tale of four children adventuring on a lake, where they encounter imaginary pirates and possibly less-imaginary spies. The past is as strange as an alternate universe here, but the film’s values (integrity and curiosity, endeavour and courage) are as potent as ever. “A charmingly old-fashioned family adventure—one that you can imagine several generations of a family gathering to watch…”- Time Out
God’s Own Country
Announcing himself as a major talent with this remarkable, award-winning debut, writer-director Francis Lee has crafted a sharply observed, richly textured and thrillingly sensual story about the redemptive powers of love and self-acceptance. Josh O’Connor is outstanding as mistrustful Johnny, who slowly opens up to the possibility of happiness with the help of gentle Gheorghe, a ruggedly handsome Romanian farmhand whose soulful appreciation for rural life provides the catalyst for transformative change.
When a Westminster politician (Kristin Scott Thomas) invites some of her most acid-tongued, comically contemptible friends (including Cillian Murphy, Patricia Clarkson and Timothy Spall) to a celebratory dinner, those subjects that aren’t to be discussed in polite company start being hurled around like pies in a food fight. Delightfully ill-mannered, wickedly dry and wildly entertaining, Sally Potter’s film is “a deliciously heightened, caviar-black comedy… played with relish by a dream ensemble.”- Variety
The Columbus, Indiana, of the film’s title is home to some gorgeously designed buildings; it’s that kind of beauty that brings Casey (Haley Lu Richardson) and Jin (John Cho) together. He’s a book translator returning home from South Korea; she’s a high school grad with a deep love for architecture. It’s clearly a love shared by director Kogonada, who makes inspired use of the city’s buildings and other locales for this spellbinding film about art, conversation and other essentials of life.
Harry Dean Stanton is a mainstay of American acting, and this film is his valediction: a funny, poignant portrait of a man approaching death with all the dignity he can muster. Stanton’s Lucky is a man who lives life on his own terms: from his yoga exercises to the pack of smokes he consumes every day, he does it his way, all the time. But now he’s approaching the end of the road, and it’s time to take stock…Stirring monologues, lovable characters and, of course, superb acting make this film a winner.
En el séptimo día(Trailer not available)
Jim McKay’s return to filmmaking is a genuine triumph, a throwback to the early 1990s (when he helmed Sundance hit Girls Town) as well as to neorealism. Set in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, this classical drama explores the “invisible” life of a neighbourhood by trailing José, an illegal Mexican immigrant, who must balance his work as a delivery man and his obligations to his pregnant wife (who’s still in Mexico) and his soccer team (who are about to compete for a championship). “Exquisitely crafted…”-Variety
Drawing comparisons with the Coen brothers’ work at its noirish best, Jamie M. Dagg’s dark drama is set in small-town Alaska and features a stone-cold killer (Christopher Abbot), a nasty femme fatale (Imogen Poots) and a retired rodeo star (Jon Bernthal) who cross paths when a murder plot goes awry, spreading collateral damage everywhere… “Part neo-noir, part latter-day Western, this exceptional indie thriller… yields one of the gnarliest and most unsettling movies we’re likely to get this year.”- Variety
Nathan Silver (Exit Elena, Soft in the Head, both VIFF 13) takes a step up with this blackly comic thriller about amour fou, set largely in Paris. Flight attendant Gina (Lindsay Burdge), reeling from her lover’s suicide, has a one-night stand with sleazy Parisian bartender Jerôme (Damian Bonnard) and then promptly moves to Paris in order to pursue the “love of her life”—despite Jerome’s lack of interest… Fuelled by Burdge’s high-octane performance, this is an unforgettably twisted story of neurotic passion.
Tickets for all of these amazing films available here.