Latin American Film Reviews at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival

COVID-19 has disrupted the film festival circuit like no other global event before, but despite these challenges, a handful of festivals go on virtually, connecting filmmakers with audiences far beyond their physical screening venues. The Tribeca Film Festival in New York City is one such event still providing a platform for new work from filmmakers who have had their premiere dates pushed back or their film touring plans canceled.

In the range of dozens of feature films and short films, here are some works by Latin American and Latin American directors or focusing on stories from our countries that make up this year’s virtual edition.

Through the night

“Through the night. Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Loira Limbal’s tender portrayal of a daycare is one of Tribeca’s underrated gems. In Through the night, Limbal’s camera follows Nunu, a woman who spends most of her days and nights looking after the adorable children of working families and single mothers in Westchester, New York. She is a lifeline, a parent figure both for the children she cares for and for the moms who turn to her for help and advice. And while it might seem like fun playing with kids all day, the work is grueling, wreaking physical havoc on Nunu, a woman who hasn’t had a day off in years.

Although removed from the pandemic itself, the focus on childcare has become particularly moving in recent months as families struggle to teach and care for their children during the hours. office – and that is if they have the privilege of working from home. Without making it too obvious, Limbal’s documentary highlights the unspoken backbone of our economy, the educators who keep millions of parents going to work every day and the precariousness and challenges they face every day. He accomplishes this through a sympathetic story, humanizing the experiences of a small community that flourished in this 24 hour daycare.


“499.” Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Rodrigo Reyes 499 is a much more experimental documentary, folding truth and fiction to explore the current waves of violence, corruption and heartache in Mexico. Following a failed conquistador (Eduardo San Juan) moved some 499 years in its timeline, this armored adventurer wanders various places listening to the sadness of strangers, the grief of parents who have lost children, and the longing for them. migrants to make their journey north.

While the stories are undoubtedly powerful, and the cinematography of rural and urban Mexico seems alluring, Reyes never clearly connects the ramifications of colonialism to the violence and loss of experience of his bewildered explorer, commenting on the souls that ‘he meets and the majestic views he sees. Modern subjects share their stories in solemn, gloomy scenes without too much intrusion from the semi-comical presence of the conquistador’s out-of-water fish that hijacks details of the dangerous journey of the migrants or the crimes that fiercely claimed beings Dear. It’s a strange and sinuous rhythm between the past and the present.


“Landing”. Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Confronting the past and the present to approach our future seems to be a popular approach in some of these films. At Cecilia Aldarondo’s Landing, we see an old crisis in a new light. It’s no secret that Puerto Rico suffered untold trauma and loss as a result of Hurricane Maria. Years later, those who remained on the island continue to struggle, now with more bureaucratic issues to fear and a new generation of colonizers in the form of Bitcoin opportunists and vulture investors. It’s a mix of terrifying first-person tales of the hurricane and its aftermath with beautiful scenes imbued with the island’s natural beauty.

Landing illustrates many of the island’s many contrasts between rich and poor, locals and tourists, nature claiming abandoned buildings and people retaliating with protests and actions. Aldarondo, whose film Memories of a penitent hearYou played Tribeca in 2016, returns with an incisive documentary that crosses the island, following different residents of different cities as they share their heartbreaking stories and relive the troubled legacy of American colonialism, naval bombing campaigns that rocked the island. island for decades to its ongoing debt nightmare.


“Pacified. Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

We also travel to the recent past by Pacified, where a teenage girl named Tati (Cassia Gil) must grow up quickly in her favela in Rio de Janeiro as she witnesses violence and gang warfare during the turmoil of the country’s preparations for the Summer Olympics in the city. In the midst of this already chaotic period, Tati is reintroduced to her father, Jaca (Bukassa Kabengele), a former gang leader who has just been released from prison and is up against the new generation of gang members in the neighborhood. Sadly, Tati will find no solace at the home of her addicted mother, Andrea (Debora Nascimento), and it seems no one is safe in her tight-knit but tense community.

American filmmaker Paxton Winters keeps her camera focused on Tati’s coming of age, even though it is the adults around her who commit most of the violence and wrongdoing around her. She’s just trying to keep her head above water with very little support. It’s a sense of isolation shared by almost everyone else who is trying to survive this latest government intervention.


“Kokoloko. Courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.

Gerardo Naranjo Kokoloko looks little like the original Miss Bala which put the Mexican director in the international spotlight. The only fleeting similarity is that the films follow the heartbreaking experience of a young woman finding herself in the crosshairs of violence and the men who perpetuate it. In Kokoloko, Marisol (Alejandra Herrera) is under the control of her physically and sexually abusive cousin, Mauro (Eduardo Mendizábal), but she is much more interested in her nicer partner, Mundo (Noé Hernández). Sadly, it’s Marisol’s cousin who holds the most power, not her lover, and the secret couple are forced to hide their escapades through text messages and online messages.

Set in a quaint Mexican coastal town, the trio encounter a series of terrible events through an almost experimental, unpolished style in this stunning, colorful 16mm film. While the film is shamelessly aggressive and sexual in nature, Marisol appears to have taken her will from her as the two macho men fight for her like a prize. But as the film is shot in previews, even keeping the messy ends of the end of the film reel, the characters feel more like abstractions, just essences of Marisol’s frustrating situation.

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