By Diego Molano
Few days ago, the annual Latinbeat Film Festival at the Film Society of Lincoln Center rolled out another stellar selection of films, continuing its tradition of presenting the latest trends in Latin American cinema and debuting some of the region’s rising stars. Two films, Las lágrimas / The Tears (pictured left) from Mexico and Tanta agua / So Much Water a co-production between Uruguay and Mexico, headlined the Thursday evenings premiere. Featuring family tribulations and the often cringingly funny moments of growing up, these films present relatable themes, while also providing two different examples of unconventional ways to fund films.
Pablo Delgado Sánchez, a newcomer to LatinBeat, presented his film Las lágrimas. The film, Delgado’s graduation project, recounts two brothers, Fernando and Gabriel, their cathartic journey while on a camping trip, and their struggle to cope with the dysfunction surrounding their family. The other film of the evening was Tanta agua (pictured below) directed by the duo of Ana Guevara and Leticia Jorge, featured the co-operation of Mexican and Uruguayan talent. Chronicling the rained-out vacation of divorced father Alberto and his two children Lucia and Federico, this family trip/coming-of-age hybrid discusses the father-daughter dynamic.
The highly intimate nature of both films was instantly recognizable. "This is just such a personal film. Seeing the characters is a little like seeing me at that age" remarked Delgado. "There’s so much of me in it – but it’s not an autobiographical film. Nothing like this has ever happened to me." Guevara and Jorge were also quick to make this distinction. "What really got us thinking about making this film was when I mentioned this trip I took with my family when I was a teenager... but neither of us (Guevara or Jorge) are Lucía. Lucía is a construction." This comfortable distance seems to have created a very relatable set of films, adding in enough personal elements to seem real but not be a nostalgic reminiscing of the directors' childhoods.
The non-traditional forms of funding used by each film made them unique. As Delgado’s final project in film school, the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica financed Las lágrimas. With this financial backing, he was free to attempt a much more experimental approach to his filmmaking. "I wanted to make the film as organic as possible. It wasn’t made with a traditional script – more of an outline.“ Despite the fact that Tanta agua had the good fortune to be financed by the production team winning a large grant, and the support of a collective from both Mexico and Uruguay. "In our first draft of the script we moved ahead even though we didn’t have the money. We would be shooting far away from home, with special effects, and it was fine." While the written script was not as flexible as the one Delgado shot, it too changed based on the interaction of the actors. "We changed certain things based on how the actors interacted." The organic approaches enriched audience interaction, and was another point shared by these films.
Dysfunctional child-rearing and wayward vacations. The overwhelming awkwardness of adolescence and bonds of family. These shared themes transcend borders, presenting the yin and yang of life. These featured directors have not only. Furthermore, there is an underlying courage, a willingness to attempt unusual approaches to filmmaking, and to work with budgets smaller than those considered necessary for feature films. Many questions remain to be answered – can these small, claustrophobic films continue to push the filmmaking envelope? Will these filmmakers flourish with different founding sources? Both films close on optimistic yet unresolved terms, leaving an audience to further ponder these bright examples of contemporary Latin American cinema – excellent additions to the Latinbeat lineup.
Tanta agua is distributed in the U.S. by Film Movement.