The immediate impact and dramatic photos from natural disasters dominate the media. But what about the period afterwards? This quietly powerful documentary captures the devastation and heroism of a community in those months and years after such a crisis. Filmed during four years in Chaitén in the south of Chile, it tells the story of a group of people who re-occupy their town, which was partly buried by a volcanic eruption and flood, in order to stop the authorities from forcing them to abandon it.
Official Selection 2014
Alejandro Jodorowsky’s first movie in 23 years is a full-throttle return to form for the mad maestro of El Topo and The Holy Mountain, now an octogenarian. A semi-autobiographical, semi-fantasized coming-of-age tale reminiscent of Fellini’s Amarcord, the film is set in 1930s Chile, where a little boy named Alejandro grows up, unhappily, under a stern, domineering father and a statuesque, operatically-emotive mother. The Dance of Reality may be Jodorowsky’s most coherent, grounded, and personal film ever.
When the car accident happens, Bianca is just starting to smoke and Tomas is still a virgin. The two siblings are left alone, two orphans adrift in the faded splendor of Rome. Life loses its shape as they get lost in the back alleys of adulthood, until Bianca encounters Maciste, a retired Mr. Universe, and enters his dark mansion in search of a future. This exquisitely photographed film captures all the rich colours of grief and the uncertainty of youth.
“Good morning, grandmas and grandpas. Today I want to share with you the sounds I recorded on a rainy day,” says the radio announcer, the residents of Father Hurtado’s nursing home listening quietly to the daily broadcast. They wait patiently to hear news of those who have passed away, like a tired passenger awaits the arrival of the last train. Poetic and deeply human, The Last Station is an insightful portrait of life in a Chilean nursing home, where residents embark with determination upon their every chore.
During the late 18th century in Cuba, a Spanish count and owner of a sugar mill decides to hold a dinner during Holy Week with twelve of his slaves as an allegory of Jesus with his twelve apostles at the Last Supper. When racial inferiority is predicated as “God’s will” and exploitation exceeds what the human soul can bare, a slave uprising threatens the fate of the sugar plantation.
With this fictional story, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea, one of Cuba’s most renowned directors, presents how religion and politics naturalized the crimes and abuses inherent in slavery.
Uruguay 2002. Amidst nationwide strikes, Ariel, a student activist in Montevideo is informed of his father’s death. He returns to his hometown of Salto to attend the funeral. His father’s notary soon informs Ariel of his inheritance: an old dog, a house taken over by his father’s lover and a cattle ranch where the workers haven’t been paid in six months. Ariel is thrust into an unwelcome adulthood, and to escape becomes involved with the local student activist group. One of the great strengths of the film is the mesmerizing performance by Felipe Dieste.
The Naked Room shows a whole world without leaving a single space: the examination room in the psychiatric wing of a Mexico City children’s hospital. Here the traumas and nightmares of a generation of Mexican youth are revealed in all their painful reality. The youth suffer from issues including severe depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder from assault and more. Many of the children in the film pose a danger to themselves or others; and the care they receive in this office may be their last hope.
The Palace follows the everyday life of seventeen women who live together in Mexico, sharing a large house for both emotional and financial reasons. They help each other train for various jobs as nannies, domestic workers and private nurses for elderly patients. Intimate and observational, the film is beautifully shot in a palette of muted blues and greys. Its pace reflects the pace of these women’s lives, vacillating between tedium and profundity. The Palace is an important addition to the oeuvre of one of Canada and Mexico’s most prolific avant-garde filmmakers.
Based on a true story that occurred in 1974, The Quispe Girls is the tale of three Coya sisters, Justa, Lucía and Luciana Quispe, who live on the rugged, isolated slopes of the Chilean Altiplano. They live an intimate and solitary existence as goatherders, with minimal contact with the outside world. The recent death of a fourth sister and hushed whisperings from the south of a brutal new political regime, force the sisters into an existential quest that will threaten their entire way of life. An exquisite and haunting meditation on the profundity of loss.
Leo is a teenager like any other, grappling with his first feelings of sexual attraction while trying to wrestle a bit more independence from his over-protective parents. The only difference is that he is blind. To the disappointment of Giovana, his best friend since childhood, he can’t wait to leave home and go on a study abroad program. But when the new student Gabriel arrives in class, a whole new world suddenly opens up right in front of him.