(Juana a los 12, Martín Shanly, Argentina, 2014, 80 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles)
U.S. Premiere - Q&A with director
The problem facing Juana, a 12-year-old girl, is imperceptible to others. She might even be even unaware of it herself, but it is latent in every shot of Martín Shanly’s debut feature: Juana fails easily. She performs poorly at her private British school in the outskirts of Buenos Aires and even worse in her social life among friends and family.
About 12 nurtures a rare bitterness in its particular mixture of uncomfortable comedy and tempered tragedy. In the depiction of female bodies out-of-sync with the world they inhabit, Shanly’s film successfully blooms as an odd cousin to Todd Haynes’s Safe and Todd Solondz’s Welcome to the Dollhouse. The lead performance by Rosario Shanly—the director’s sister—transcends masks thanks to a mise-en-scène that manages to be as frail and mysterious as its main character. Juana’s inadequacy to deal with the most basic social rules turns her apparently passive behavior into an intimate revolutionary act, a silent cry of resistance that is both funny and piercing. Juana is a gentle girl, a soul maybe too beautiful for this world.
“It is not a plain attitude that I find in Juana’s character, but a buffoonish darkness whose natural mask is the smile, or simply laughter, usually untimely, that transfigures (and makes much more interesting) the luminosity of her face. A smile that becomes vampiric.”
—Nuria Silva, Hacerse la crítica
Thursday, October 12 at 7:15pm
Presented as part This screening is part of If You Can Screen It There: Premiering Contemporary Latin American Cinema.