(Jorge Thielen Armand, Venezuela/Canada/Italy, 2016, 100 min. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Winner Best First Film – Cinema Tropical Awards
Co-presented with the Venezuelan Film Festival of New York (VEFFNY).
In a hypnotic blend of fiction and a documentary-like style, Jorge Thielen Armand looks beyond the headlines and gives a voice to those affected by contemporary Venezuela’s inner turmoil. La Soledad follows José, a young father who discovers that the dilapidated mansion he squats will soon be demolished. Desperate to save his family from homelessness, José embarks on a mystical search for a cursed treasure that is rumored to be buried in the house. Based on the filmmaker’s family and childhood home, most of the characters are played by his real friends and family members. Thielen Armand’s lyrical debut feature offers a poignant allegory of the desperate reality of today's Venezuela.
Friday, February 2, 7pm – Q&A with filmmaker
(El pacto de Adriana, Lissette Orozco. Chile, 2017, 96 min. New York premiere. In Spanish with English subtitles)
Special Jury Mention – Cinema Tropical Awards
Adriana was always director Lissette Orozco's favorite aunt. A confident woman who had settled in Australia, one day in 2007 she is suddenly arrested while visiting her family in Chile and accused of having worked for dictator Pinochet’s notorious secret police, DINA. As the aunt denies these accusations, her niece sets out to investigate Adriana’s history, managing the tough balancing act of maintaining her role as both niece and filmmaker. “Raw and compelling… a brave documentary” (Jay Weissberg, Variety), Lissette Orozco’s extremely personal debut feature is a riveting personal journey that serves as a timely account of lies and self-deception, both within a family and a nation.
Saturday, February 3, 2pm
MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART
(Cecilia Aldarondo. USA/Puerto Rico, 2016, 74 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
Winner Best U.S. Latino Film – Cinema Tropical Awards
Combining a wealth of newly discovered home movies, video, and written documents with artfully shot contemporary interviews and vérité footage, Memories of a Penitent Heart is a documentary that cracks open a Pandora’s box of unresolved family drama. Originating from filmmaker Cecilia Aldarondo’s suspicion that there was something ugly in her family’s past, the film charts her excavation of the buried family conflict around her uncle Miguel’s death, and her search for Miguel’s partner Robert a generation later. After two years of dead ends, Robert turns up: but he is not the same man. He has reinvented himself as Father Aquin, a Franciscan monk with 25 years of pent-up grief and bitterness. For the first time, a member of Miguel’s family wants to hear Aquin’s side of the story—but is it too little, too late? A story about the mistakes of the past and the second chances of the present, Memories of a Penitent Heart is a cautionary tale about the unresolved conflicts wrought by AIDS, and a nuanced exploration of how faith is used and abused in times of crisis.
Saturday, February 3, 4pm – Q&A with filmmaker
(Arábia, Affonso Uchoa, João Dumans. Brazil, 98 min. In Portuguese with English subtitles)
Winner, Best Film – Cinema Tropical Awards
Andre, a teenager, lives in an industrial town in Brazil near an old aluminum factory. One day, a factory worker, Cristiano, suffers an accident. Asked to go to Cristiano’s house to pick up clothes and documents, Andre stumbles upon a notebook, and it is here that Araby begins—or, rather, transforms. As Andre reads from the journal entries, we are plunged into Cristiano’s life, into stories of his wanderings, adventures, and loves. "An instant classic… [m]arked by boundless humanism" (Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter) and beautifully written and filmed, Araby is a fable-like road movie about a young man who sets off on a twenty-year journey in search of a better life. A Grasshopper Film release.
Sunday, February 4, 3pm
THE HUMAN SURGE
(El auge del humano, Eduardo Williams. Argentina/Portugal/Brazil, 2016, 97 min. In Spanish, Portuguese and Cebuano with English subtitles)
Winner, Best Director – Cinema Tropical Awards
Buenos Aires. Exe, 25 years old, has just lost his job and is not looking for another one. His neighbors and friends seem as odd to him as they always have. Online, he meets Alf, a boy from Mozambique who is also bored with his job and who is about to follow Archie, another boy who has run away into the jungle. Through the dense vegetation of the forest, Archie tracks ants back to their nest. One of them wanders off course and comes across Chai, a Filipina who is sitting on a giant heap of earth and about to return to her strange, beautiful home town. The mysterious, humorous ways in which their adventures connect (or don’t) fuels The Human Surge, a film about our present moment that boldly and wildly looks towards our future. Winner of the top prize in the 2016 Locarno Film Festival’s Filmmakers of the Present section, William’s audacious debut feature has been hailed as “an exhilarating, boldly paradoxical experience” (Nick Pinkerton, Artforum). A Grasshopper Film release.
Sunday, February 4, 5pm