Film Forum has announced the U.S. theatrical premiere of Marcelo Martinessi’s The Heiresses / Las herederas, a masterfully acted Paraguayan drama of an aristocratic couple facing financial ruin, beginning Wednesday, January 16 for a two-week engagement.
Martinessi’s debut feature follows Chela (Ana Brun) and Chiquita (Margarita Irún), who have been romantic partners for decades and lifelong members of Paraguay’s elite—until the money runs out. Now they spend their days selling their furniture, glassware, and silver to anyone who will make them an offer. When Chiquita, the more garrulous and resilient of the two women, is sent to prison, Chela has to cope with loneliness and incipient poverty. Then, surprising new options develop for Chela, both personally and professionally.
The movie, a US Distrib Films release, is anchored by two extraordinary, magnetic performances by Brun and Irún (both famed Paraguayan stage actresses making their film debuts) that suggest the untold inner resources of its principal characters.
Director Martinessi credits Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant as an important influence, describing his remarkably assured feature debut as “a coming-of-age film for a 60-year-old woman.” The Heiresses won two Silver Bear awards at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival: Best Actress (for Ana Brun) and the Alfred Bauer Prize “for a film that opens new perspectives.” The film was Paraguay’s official submission to the 2019 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film.