As part of its longstanding commitment to Latin American cinema, Film Forum, New York City’s prestigious art-house and repertory cinema, is proud to announce the theatrical releases of four Latin-American titles as part of its fall/winter 2018–2019 season, including Paraguay and Colombia’s official Academy Awards submissions and a new 4K restoration of a classic 1991 film.
Opening Wednesday, November 21, the documentary ¡Las Sandinistas! by Jenny Murray, is a stirring, timely chronicle of the bold women behind Nicaragua’s Sandinista movement. The young Sandinista revolutionaries defeated Somoza, a notoriously despotic and corrupt tyrant, in 1979, retaining control of Nicaragua until 1990 (with a comeback by their party in 2006). For nearly a decade the Sandinistas fought a civil war against the U.S.-backed Contras, and while up to 30 percent of the rebel combatants were female (peasants, housewives, and intellectuals), women were systematically denied meaningful roles in the newly formed government. Today, the former fighters speak out against the staggering levels of violence against women in Nicaragua. ¡Las Sandinistas! gives vibrant voice to their story, combining archival footage of teenage girls toting AK-47s with recent interviews of these women now declaring unequivocally, “We have to make the revolution all over again.”
Highway Patrolman / El patrullero, the 1991 film that marked the first Mexican feature from the British director and Spaghetti Western expert Alex Cox, will run at Film Forum from Friday, November 30 through Thursday, December 6, in a new 4K restoration. The film follows Mexican police academy grad Pedro Rojas (Roberto Sosa), who is assigned to Nowheresville, and becomes a south-of-the-border Serpico, as he rejects corruption and turns down bribes—until faced with the realities of providing for both his family and his prostitute girlfriend. Highway Patrolman, considered ahead of its time, preceded a wave of Mexican crime and corruption films that would continue for years and mirrored real-life events within the nation.
Paraguay’s Oscar submission The Heiresses / Las herederas, winner of two Silver Bears at the last edition of the Berlin Film Festival, will have its U.S. theatrical premiere at Film Forum starting January 16, 2019. Marcelo Martinessi’s debut feature tells the story of Chela and Chiquita, lesbian partners for decades who are lifelong members of Paraguay’s wealthy elite—until the money runs out. Now they spend their days selling their furniture, glassware, and silver to whoever will make them an offer. When Chiquita, the more outgoing and resilient of the pair, is sent to prison, Chela has to cope with loneliness and looming poverty. Then a new option develops. The movie is anchored by two extraordinary, magnetic performances (Ana Brun as Chela won the Best Actress prize in Berlin) that draw on the principal characters’ secret inner lives.
Also having its U.S. theatrical premiere run is Colombia’s official Academy Award submission, Birds of Passage / Pájaros de verano, opening February 13, 2019. “Like an indigenous The Godfather” (The Hollywood Reporter), Birds of Passage follows the emergence of the drug trade from the perspective of the drug-harvesting tribes of the Colombian Guajira Desert. As American demand for marijuana grows in the 1970s, a cash bonanza hits Colombia, quickly turning farmers into hard-nosed businessmen. A Wayuu family discovers the perks of wealth and power, plus the dangers inherent in mixing greed, passion, and honor. A drug-trade fratricidal war puts at risk the family’s new-found status, their ancestral traditions, and their very lives. Directors Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego (creators of the Academy Award–nominated Embrace of the Serpent) lend a vivid, colorful ethnographic grounding to this true story of the South American drug wars.