Three Argentinean films have been selected for the main slate of the 52nd annual edition of the New York Film Festival, the Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced. The films, making their U.S. premiere, are Jauja by Lisandro Alonso, The Princess of France / La princesa de Francia by Matías Piñeiro, and Two Shots Fired / Dos disparos by Martín Rejtman.
A work of tremendous beauty and a source of continual surprise, Alonso’s first film since 2008’s Liverpool is also his first period piece (set during the Argentinean army’s Conquest of the Desert in the 1870s), his first film with international stars (led by Viggo Mortensen), and his first screenplay with a co-writer (poet and novelist Fabián Casas). But the emphasis, as in all his work, is on bodies in landscapes. Danish military engineer Gunnar Dinesen (Mortensen, in a Technicolor-bright cavalry uniform) traverses a visually stunning variety of Patagonian shrub, rock, grass, and desert on horseback and on foot in search of his teenage daughter (Viilbjørk Agger Malling), who has eloped with a new love. Alonso’s style reaches new heights of sensory attentiveness and physicality, driving the action toward a thrilling conclusion that transcends the limits of cinematic time and space.
As in his critical hit Viola (2013), Piñeiro doesn’t transplant Shakespeare to the present day so much as summon the spirit of his polymorphous comedies. Víctor (Julián Larquier Tellarini) returns to Buenos Aires after his father’s death and a spell in Mexico to prepare a radio production of Love’s Labour’s Lost. Reuniting with his repertory, he finds himself sorting out complicated entanglements with girlfriend Paula (Agustina Muñoz), sometime lover Ana (María Villar), and departed actress Natalia (Romina Paula), as well as his muddled relations with the constellation of friends involved with the project. As the film tracks the group’s criss-crossing movements and interactions, their lives become increasingly enmeshed with the fiction they’re reworking, potential outcomes multiply, and reality itself seems subject to transformation. An intimate, modestly scaled work that takes characters and viewers alike into dizzying realms of possibility, The Princess of France is the most ambitious film yet from one of world cinema’s brightest young talents, a cumulatively thrilling experience.
The first feature in a decade by Martín Rejtman (The Magic Gloves), a founding figure of the new Argentine cinema, is an engrossing, digressive comedy with the weight of an existentialist novel. Sixteen-year-old Mariano (Rafael Federman), inexplicably and without warning, shoots himself twice—once in the stomach and once in the head—and improbably survives. As his family strains to protect Mariano from himself, his elder brother (Benjamín Coehlo) pursues a romance with a disaffected girl (Laura Paredes) who works the counter at a fast-food restaurant, his mother (Susana Pampín) impulsively takes off on a trip with a stranger, and Mariano recruits a young woman (Manuela Martelli) to join his medieval wind ensemble. Rejtman tells this story with both compassion and formal daring, pursuing one thread only to abandon it for another. Two Shots Fired is a wry, moving, consistently surprising film about the irrationality of emotions and how they govern our actions at each stage of our lives.
As it was previously announced, Birdman, the most recent film by Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu has been selected as Closing Night Gala for the festival. The 52nd edition of the New York Film Festival will take place September 26-October 12. (Film descriptions provided by the New York Film Festival).