The Film Society of Lincoln Center has announced the 25 feature films that will be screened as part of the main slate at the 54th edition of the New York Film Festival, which includes new films by Pablo Larraín from Chile, Matías Piñeiro from Argentina, and Kleber Mendonça Filho from Brazil.
Having its U.S. premiere in New York, Aquarius by Kleber Mendonça Filho was a highlight of this year’s Cannes Film Festival. The follow-up to his acclaimed Neighboring Sounds revolves around the leisurely days of a 65-year-old widow, transcendently played by the great Brazilian actress Sônia Braga.
Clara is a retired music critic and the only remaining resident of the titular apartment building in Recife. Trouble starts when an ambitious real estate promoter who has bought up all of Aquarius’s other units comes knocking on Clara’s door. She has no intention of leaving, and a protracted struggle ensues. Braga’s transfixing, multilayered performance and the film’s deliberate pacing and stylistic flourishes yield a sophisticated, political, and humane work.
Shooting outside his native Argentina for the first time, New York–based Matías Piñeiro fashions a bittersweet comedy of coupling and uncoupling that doubles as a love letter to his adopted city in Hermia & Helena. Working on a Spanish translation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on an artist residency, Camila (Agustina Muñoz) finds herself within a constellation of shifting relationships (an old flame, a new one, a long-lost relative).
Mingling actors from the director’s Buenos Aires repertory with stalwarts of New York’s independent film scene (Keith Poulson, Dustin Guy Defa, Dan Sallitt), Hermia & Helena offers the precise gestures, mercurial moods, and youthful energies of all Piñeiro’s cinema, with an emotional depth and directness that make this his most mature work yet.
Neruda, Pablo Larraín’s exciting, surprising, and colorful new film is not a biopic but, as the director himself puts it, a “Nerudean” portrait of the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda’s years of flight and exile after his 1948 denunciation of his government’s leadership.
Larraín’s heady blend of fact and fancy (the latter embodied in an invented character, straight out of detective fiction, played by Gael García Bernal) is many things at once: a loving, kaleidoscopic recreation of a particular historical moment; a comical cat-and-mouse game; and a pocket epic. Featuring Luis Gnecco, a dead ringer for the poet and a formidable actor, alongside a terrific cast.
The 54th edition of the festival will take place September 30 – October 16.