Films from Argentina and Cuba at Museum of the Moving Image's First Look 2016

The Museum of the Moving Image will premiere three Latin American films as part of its 2016 edition of its First Look Festival, with the attendance of the filmmakers, and co-presented by Cinema Tropical. The films representing Latin America at this year’s selection are Jonathan Perel’s Toponymy / Toponimia (pictured left) from Argentina, Carlos M. Quintela’s La obra del siglo / The Project of the Century and Léa Rinaldi’s Esto es lo que hay / This Is What It Is, both from Cuba.

In 1974, shortly after Juan Peron’s return to power, the misleadingly named “Operation Independence” went into effect, resulting in the creation of rigidly designed villages in northern Argentina arranged to thwart guerilla resistance. In Perel’s masterful structuralist study Toponymy, made with no narration or dialogue, Jonathan Perel reveals the sinister politics behind the plan. “An elaborate memory puzzle whose dry, enigmatic humor would surely have tickled Perel's illustrious countryman Jose Luis Borges.” (Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter).

Quintela’s The Project of the Century (pictured right) is set in the provincial Cuban town of Juragua, the planned home of a Soviet-backed nuclear plant, that is now a ghost town with near-empty high-rise buildings. With starkly beautiful black-and-white compositions, a darkly comic family drama unfolds, intercut with archival TV footage celebrating the promise of the Communist era.

Rinaldi’s This Is What It Is is a vibrant film about Cuba’s leading hip-hop band, Los Aldeanos, captures the country’s complexity and contradictions. This is a rare music documentary that goes beyond its enthralling performances to take a close, candid look at the realities of daily life. Rinaldi’s vision, like the music she captures, is at once political and poetic.

The 2016 edition of First Look will take place January 8-24 in New York City.