The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced the lineup for the 5th annual edition of Art of the Real, an international showcase for the most vital and innovative voices in nonfiction and hybrid filmmaking, to take place April 26 – May 6 in New York City. This year's lineup, programmed by Dennis Lim and Rachael Rakes, includes works by filmmakers from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Uruguay.
Four films by Brazilian directors—three in their U.S. premiere, and a fourth in its North American premiere—will be screened in Art of the Real: Baronesa by Juliana Antunes, Central Airport THF / Zentralflughafen THF by Karim Aïnouz, I Remember the Crows / Lembro mais dos Corvos by Gustavo Vinagre, and Once There Was Brasília / Era uma Vez Brasília by Adirley Queirós.
Winner of the Audience Prize at the 2017 FIDMarseille Festival, Antunes’s debut feature offers an evocative, rigorously composed glimpse at life in the favelas of Belo Horizonte. Baronesa follows friends Leidiane and Andreia as their conversation flows freely across backyards and within cramped quarters, addressing the facts of life: family, drugs, sex, death. With its almost exclusively female crew and nonprofessional cast, Baronesa is structurally simple yet multilayered in its resonance, and it establishes Antunes as a formidable new voice in Brazilian cinema.
Berlin-based Brazilian director Aïnouz (Futuro Beach) returns with this impeccably photographed documentary chronicling a year in the lives of asylum seekers in Berlin's historic Tempelhof, a former airport built by the Nazi government as a symbol for Hitler's Germania. The irony is not lost on Aïnouz or his subjects—Ibrahim, an 18-year-old from Syria, and Qutaiba, a 35-year-old from Iraq who was forced to flee before he could graduate from medical school. Today, the airport has been repurposed into an emergency medical headquarters: an ad hoc village for those waiting to be deported or granted residency.
Filmed in a single all-night session, the latest from Vinagre (Nova Dubai) is an extended interview with his friend and collaborator Julia Katharine, a Japanese-Brazilian trans actress-filmmaker whose insomnia keeps her awake long enough to candidly spill stories of her childhood, family, romances, desires, self-destructive impulses, and—above all—love of cinema. Vinagre invests himself in Julia’s tales as a quiet but attentive insider as she speaks at length of her insecurities, her desire to divulge honestly and still engage her audience, and the various films that have shaped her identity, from Terms of Endearment to The Birds to Querelle.
Continuing the Afrofuturist docufiction of White Out, Black In, Queirós’s Once There Was Brasília takes on the legacies of Brazil’s structural racism and the 2016 coup against Dilma Rousseff. W4, a disgraced intergalactic agent, is given the opportunity to acquire land for his family by traveling to earth to assassinate Juscelino Kubitschek, the president who founded Brasília, on the day the city was to be inaugurated. Instead, he ends up in Ceilândia (a suburb founded for Brasília’s black population) on the verge of Rousseff’s impeachment.
Art of the Real will also feature the North American premiere of One or Two Questions / Unas preguntas by Swiss director Kristina Konrad. What is peace? What is justice? Why should these two concepts be mutually exclusive? These hard questions are posed by the documentarian Konrad’s epic document of Uruguay’s 1989 amnesty referendum, a vote to determine whether members of the police and military accused of crimes during the country’s 12 years of junta rule could be prosecuted after they were controversially granted impunity in 1986. Working from a wealth of U-matic tapes, Konrad follows two TV interviewers as they talk to common citizens on the street about how they’ll vote and what peace and justice mean to them.
The Shorts Program will include the Chilean-French coproduction A Moon Made of Iron / Una luna de hierro by Francisco Rodriguez, which mixing impressionist images of the sea with straightforward interviews, follows the story of four Chinese workers who died at sea after jumping from their boat in the hopes of reaching Chile; and the U.S.-Argentine coproduction La Libertad by Colombian filmmaker Laura Huertas Millán, who follows a group of indigenous weavers who use a pre-Spanish loom to create their work. The women and men onscreen discuss what freedom means to them—be it the decision not to marry or what it is to be wealthy.
Art of the Real will also pay tribute to the work of the late Mexican filmmaker Eugenio Polgovsky (1977-2017), one of the best documentary filmmakers of his generation, who died suddenly last year. The showcase pays tribute to him with a double bill of medium-length works: Tropic of Cancer, a pointed dispatch from the deserts of inland Mexico, where impoverished families use homemade traps and weapons to hunt snakes and birds amid arid brushland, a state of existence that might as well be prehistoric; and Mitote, which weaves through the hunger strikers, wrestlers, soccer fans, and shamans at El Zocalo, Mexico City’s vast main plaza, evoking a hallucinatory, vérité snapshot of the nation. Mara Polgovsky, the filmmaker's sister will introduce the program.
Additionally, Art of the Real will present the interactive performance The Private Property Trilogy by New York-based Mexican filmmaker Nicolás Pereda. A fascinating look at creativity and those who truly go their own way in which the filmmaker explains his relationship to C.B., an amateur archaeologist, activist, artist, and the creator of the Mining Museum in La Union, who lives in the Sierra de Catorce (one of the highest mountains in Mexico), as interview footage plays behind him.