Zama, the fourth feature film by Argentine director Lucrecia Martel (La Ciénaga, The Headless Woman), was named the best film of 2018 in Film Comment’s annual end-of-the-year survey in which nearly 100 film critics and journalists participated.
An adaptation of Antonio di Benedetto's 1956 classic novel, the film tells the story of Zama (played by Mexican actor Daniel Giménez Cacho), an officer of the Spanish Crown born in South America, waits for a letter from the King granting him a transfer from the town in which he is stagnating, to a better place. His situation is delicate. He must ensure that nothing overshadows his transfer. He is forced to accept submissively every task entrusted to him by successive Governors who come and go as he stays behind. The years go by and the letter from the King never arrives. When Zama notices everything is lost, he joins a party of soldiers that go after a dangerous bandit.
The other Latin American film in Film Comment’s list of the year’s best was Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma from Mexico, which landed In the number four spot.
Furthermore, the Argentine 14-hour epic film La Flor was selected as one of the top unreleased films of 2018 by Film Comment. A decade in the making, Mariano Llinás’s follow-up to his 2008 cult classic Extraordinary Stories is an unrepeatable labor of love and madness that redefines the concept of binge viewing. The director himself shows up at the start to preview the six disparate episodes that await, each starring the same four remarkable actresses: Elisa Carricajo, Valeria Correa, Pilar Gamboa, and Laura Paredes. Overflowing with nested subplots and whiplash digressions, La Flor shape-shifts from a B-movie to a musical to a spy thriller to a category-defying metafiction—all of them without endings—to a remake of a very well-known French classic and, finally, to an enigmatic period piece that lacks a beginning (granted, all notions of beginnings and endings become fuzzy after 14 hours).
The Mexican film Our Time / Nuestro tiempo by Carlos Reygadas and A Wild Stream / Una corriente salvaje by Nuria Ibáñez were also inlcluded in the list of best undistributed films in the spots 17 and 20, respectively.