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Fan Bing Bing at Tokyo International Film Festival 24 (HESO Magazine)

24th Tokyo International Film Festival For the Love of Cinema

Damn Life ©2011 Hitoshi Kitagawa at Tokyo International Film Festival 24 (HESO Magazine)

Damn Life ©2011 Hitoshi Kitagawa at Tokyo International Film Festival 24


The demise of cinema marks a loss even greater than that of vinyl or even books. After all, music sounds almost the same whether played on a record or an mp3, and e-readers do at least replicate the format of paper books.

But the cinema? However gratifying it might be to download a movie torrent in minutes at home, the experience pales in comparison to walking into a darkened theatre, perfumed with the scent of caramel popcorn and soundtracked by the crackle of anticipation, for your eyeballs to be pelted with a flurry of hypersize images and your ears assaulted by booming surround sound. To me, you could drop your inheritance on an enormous flatscreen TV and a Bose soundsystem, and still come about as close to the real cinematic experience as a cellphone jingle does to a symphony.

I think that’s what the 24th Tokyo International Film Festival was getting at when it chose the slogan, “Believe! The Power of Film”. As with most cultural events since the March 11th tsunami, it came close to being canceled, but eventually went ahead with the requisite “Overcoming the Disaster” section tacked on.

The tone of the festival was therefore even more conservative than usual–and that’s saying something for Tokyo, one of the most anodyne international festivals of the annual circuit. If film is about the big screen, for me, then it goes without saying that festivals are about the scandal beyond the silver screen–be it bed-hopping, brawling or wardrobe malfunctions.

Sadly, the absence of Hollywood’s glitterati meant nothing of the kind happened at this year’s TIFF. That’s not to say there were no celebrities at all: this year’s opening ceremony included appearances from Jackie Chan, whose 1911 co-opened the festival, and Milla Jovovich in The Three Musketeers, directed by her husband, Paul Anderson. Whatever happened to the lovely Milla? Sure, in the flesh she still glittered with that ethereal, movie-star grace denied to mere mortals, but… remember when she was an extraterrestrial vixen in Jean Paul Gaultier bondage? Well, now she makes “grt family adventure movies,” according to one of her own appallingly abbreviated Tweets, and attacks movie production companies for under-promoting what is apparently a complete turkey.

Cluttered with bizarre “modern” props such as airships and screened in 3D, I snubbed the musketeers Damn Life, a dark and deeply creepy Japanese flick. It tells the story of Kotani, a boy who cannot help but literally do as he is told. Awkward and seemingly mentally disabled, he starts working on a construction site, where he is severely bullied. The tables are turned on his attackers, however, when one of them accidentally kills another, and then pleads Kotani to kill him out of guilt. Kotani complies with remorseless ease, which kicks off a murdering spree. The actor, Keita Kasatsugu, has the psychopath look down pat: dark eyes peeping out behind a long fringe, a manic laugh, sporadic convulsions. But director Hitoshi Kitagawa, (who is, bizarrely, a monk, who makes films in his spare time) skilfully steers the film away from the gratuitous gore-flick it could have potentially dwindled into, diverting the camera away from much of the violence and employing a static shot to give the scenes a taut, theatrical atmosphere.

Tokyo Drifter ©2011 Tofoo Films at Tokyo International Film Festival 24 (HESO Magazine)

Tokyo Drifter ©2011 Tofoo Films at Tokyo International Film Festival 24

Fukushima Hula Girls ©2011 CineSpecial at Tokyo International Film Festival 24 (HESO Magazine)

Fukushima Hula Girls ©2011 Cinespecial at Tokyo International Film Festival 24


A calmer and more entertaining response to the disaster was Tokyo Drifter–not a remake of the 1966 Seijun Suzuki yakuza classic, but a feature which follows a busker, Kenta Maeno, around Tokyo’s eerily dark, electricity-devoid streets after the quake. You wouldn’t think that a lone guy bashing ballads out on an acoustic guitar would fill 90 minutes, but it’s curiously captivating. Sadly, the immediate bystanders filmed seem to be either oblivious or indifferent, which only augments Maeno’s hoarse, melancholy notes.

Of the films in the “Overcoming Disaster” documentary section, Fukushima Hula Girls, was the most enjoyable to sit through. Following a troupe of hula dancers at the Spa Resort Hawaiians in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, the documentary delicately balances an optimistic tone with a realistic look at the situation after the nuclear disaster. Particular attention is given to second-in-command Hula Girl Rie Omori, who grew up in Futaba, just two kilometers from the plant, where she remembers playing when she was little. Her grandmother, sitting in her seventh evacuation residence, notes that no-one was anti-nuclear when it was originally built: “We were just farmers and we weren’t rich. But I guess it’s too late now to say we should have opposed it then.”

Underlining her message are the bizarre sights that greet the family when they journey back to their home to recover a few small possessions: cows and even an ostrich wandering aimlessly among the irradiated, waist-high weeds that wreath a large sign declaring “Nuclear power creates a prosperous society”.

Omori is an open and quite charming interviewee, who tries to put a bright spin on the situation. Laughing through tears she recalls how she bought protective

clothing and wore three facemasks at once when revisiting her now contaminated home. There are many awkward echoes of Omori’s very personal situation in Land of Oblivion, which is set in Pripyat, a city just two miles from Chernobyl. It opens with a wedding party that is terminated rather abruptly by the infamous black rain, which stains the cake–and the summoning of the groom to a “forest fire” that turns out to be the nuclear plant. Skipping ten years ahead, it shows the once beautiful bride, Anya–who is a tour guide for French tourists in “the Zone”–now infertile and losing her hair in clumps, but not afraid to eat the local apples.

The immediate events that unfold after the accident are eerily similar to those seen in Fukushima: residents refuse to budge, even when the authorities are carting them out of their homes in their chairs; vigilantes carrying Geiger counters to the market and warning people not to buy meat; the reluctant abandonment of somewhere they used to live, work, play. The same regret and nostalgia that has emerged in Japan is present, too:

“Pripyat was a model Soviet city, the best in Ukraine–it had cinemas, theaters–now it doesn’t even have water or electricity,” says Anya. Later, she reminisces about the past, when they felt infallible: “The Cold War was a good time for us, at least. We felt stronger than the atom.”

Previous residents now have different dreams. One man who was evacuated to a city called Slavutich boasts that it has a radiation research center funded by the international community. “In 100 years it will be a megapolis!” he says, seemingly undeterred by the fact that the city’s success would be built by research into how people die.

Gus Van Sant Restless ©2011 SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. at Tokyo International Film Festival 24 (HESO Magazine)

Gus Van Sant Restless ©2011 SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT INC. at Tokyo International Film Festival 24

Trishna ©2011 Bankside Films at Tokyo International Film Festival 24 (HESO Magazine)

Trishna ©2011 Bankside Films at Tokyo International Film Festival 24


The same love and death theme is at the centre of Gus Van Sant’s latest offering, Restless, the tale of two teenage lovers. We first meet the death-obsessed protagonists–Enoch, a troubled orphan, and Annabel, a terminal cancer patient–as they bump into each other when crashing a funeral. On their second meeting, Henry “introduces” Annabel to his parents’ gravestone, and the topic of Annabel’s imminent death is never far from their minds.

Both of the kids are explicitly quirky, which occasionally turns somewhat contrived. Enoch is friends with the ghost of a Japanese kamikaze pilot, Hiroshi, who still wears his uniform and always wins at Battleships. Annabel, meanwhile, is a “bug watcher,” according to Enoch–or more accurately, a Darwinian devotee obsessed with evolution and ornithology. She tests Enoch and herself on names and characteristics of birds, and her unbelievably prosaic attitude to her own death is probably an effect of her belief that every individual human life is nothing but a blip in the grand evolutionary scheme.

Perhaps, as the actor who plays Hiroshi, Ryo Kase suggested at a Q&A after the screening, this is Van Sant’s idealization of a heterosexual relationship (he’s gay). Kase said that he found their relationship a little too “pure” the first time he watched the film, and asked a gay friend about it, who told him that as a member of a minority who “have to live alone”, Van Sant had likely injected a little of his idealized innocence and sweetness into the relationship. I take this to mean that it was perhaps a little unrealistic and not as fractious as it could have been. Moreover, the invention of a ghost as Enoch’s only friend echoes the isolation that can accompany coming out and being gay as a young man.

This is an interesting angle to offer at a film festival in Japan, where homosexuality is not often publically discussed and is often only tacitly accepted. However, it

might be quite a culturally specific reading in that Kase, or even his gay Japanese friend, assumed that gay men “live alone” and are necessarily solitary, which is obviously not always the case.

The love story in Michael Winterbottom’s Trishna is much more bitter, but all the better for it. An adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1891 novel Tess of the D’Urbevilles, transposed to Rajasthan, it tells the tale of a rickshaw driver’s daughter, Trishna, who is offered a hand of help and employment by Jay, a wealthy British-Indian whose father owns a string of luxury hotels.

Jay’s patience eventually pays off, and they become a couple. They move to Bombay, where the poor peasant girl shacks off her saris for leggings and spandex, learns to drink alcohol in cafes and gains some independence. Their relationship evolves into an equal and loving one–until Jay returns to England to nurse his sick father, leaving Trishna alone.

When he returns they have to move to the more traditional Rajasthan, where Trishna once again works as a maid at the hotel, and their private time is restricted to when she brings Jay lunch. Suddenly, the dynamic of their relationship shifts. As the owner’s son, her boss, and perhaps even as half-British–if you care to read into the colonial context–Jay begins to dominate and abuse Trishna in a way that was unimaginable when he first scooped her up.

I don’t want to give too much away, since this is a movie that you really should catch, but suffice it to say that this is an intelligent, multi-layered analysis of the modern class system in urban and rural India as the country undergoes enormous social upheaval. The acting is superb, and the direction so natural it’s imperceptible, which is a good thing.

Detachment ©2011 Paper Street Films at Tokyo International Film Festival 24 (HESO Magazine)

Adrian Brody in Detachment ©2011 Paper Street Films at Tokyo International Film Festival 24

Cave of Forgotten Dreams ©2010 Creative Differences at Tokyo International Film Festival 24 (HESO Magazine)

Cave of Forgotten Dreams ©2010 Creative Differences at Tokyo International Film Festival 24


The best that I saw, however, was saved until last: Detachment. British director Tony Kaye takes a highly critical–and dramatic–look at the American education system through the eyes of a substitute teacher, Henry, played by Adrien Brody. On Henry’s first day in the classroom, we see something remarkable: a teacher who’s able to handle even the most violent of kids in a calm and respectful way. In response to some perceived slight, a kid begins heckling him before marching up to the blackboard and threatening to attack. Henry defuses the situation by telling him, “I understand that you’re angry. I used to be angry too.”

Used to be? In the next scene, his temperament makes an about-face: when called to coax his grandfather out of the nursing home bathroom he has locked himself into, he launches a fiery tirade on the nurse for not removing the locks as he had requested. “I could make you lose your job so it’s your children, your family!” he yells, almost spitting with rage. “Don’t ever call me out here at this hour again!” On the way home he has a strange encounter with a child prostitute (looking not unlike Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver) after she gets punched by a john on the bus. He pushes her away, seemingly indifferent to the fact she is bleeding from the mouth.

So: does he care about people, or not? Although he says he “used to be” angry, where is all this current rage coming from? The blurry, color-drenched Super8 footage cut into the movie gives us some hints: his mother. Exactly how his childhood influenced his current state remains unclear until the end of the film, but they’re a constant reminder that this man is damaged. Not, however, as damaged as the kids he’s attempting to teach, or even his fellow teachers. Most reviews have described this film as a biting critique of the U.S. school system, and another string of the movie is a retrospective interview with Henry, who describes all of its failings.

The kids are violent, self-hating, scantily dressed. They hammer cats to death in the gymnasium and hurl expletive-filled insults at teachers in lieu of morning greetings–and their parents do the same when they bother to contact the school. Worn down by relentless abuse and not enough thanks, the teachers are also close to snapping–and their mental state is rendered more explicit by the intermittent animations that pop up, showing frantically scribbled blackboard pictures of guillotines, blood and collapsing structures.

Unlike other school-based movies, there is no redeeming dance team, no one inspiring teacher, no positive figure to save the school. It ends in the same state–if not worse–than it began, and the damaged Henry has barely the power or energy to stop it. The acting is extremely solid–from a tranquillizer-popping James Caan, to the about-to-be-fired Marcia Gay Harden as the principal, or Lucy Liu’s uptight and nervy Dr. Parker. While the dramatic interludes of footage woven through the film–his mother and the blackboards–it’s a little heavy-handed at times, and perhaps a little too open about its manipulation of the viewer. All the same, it’s a solid production that is well worth a watch–if only for the superb Brody, who hasn’t put a foot wrong in his career yet.

The thing about film festivals is that you can’t see all the films. There were many other small productions that I regret missing, however. When Pigs Have Wings by Sylvain Estibal, a quirky comedy which won the Audience Award about a Palestinian man who finds a pig and then tries to conceal it, cleverly woven against the background of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Cave of Forgotten Dreams by the enigmatic Werner Herzog–the first 3-D documentary I have heard of–is about the oldest extant cave art known to man, at the Chauvet Cave in southern France. The list goes on: Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel on director Roger Corman, Lonely Planet a conglomeration of Gogol stories set in Siberia by Edan Zeira, or even the festival closer Money Ball starring Brad Pitt, based on a non-fiction account book about–of all things–baseball by Michael Lewis, and it goes without saying, the winner Intouchables co-directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache which won the festival’s Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix and the Award for Best Actor.

Even without seeing all of these films (an impossible feat I would say few people not being paid handsomely could accomplish and even then…), the hours and days and months and even years of hard work put into them add up to greater than the sum of streaming them on Netflix, greater than the convenience of being able to download them to your iPad or smartphone, greater even than the two hours allotted them in the darkened church of the theatre, that hallowed place of modern worship, where the sound of sticky footfalls pace to find the perfect seat for expectant eyes to perchance take a peek into another world. God, you can take the Queen, but save film!

 

About the Author

Isobel Wiles is a writer based in Tokyo, Japan (Manny Santiago)

  • Isobel Wiles is a writer based in Tokyo, Japan, who contributes regularly to HESO on a variety of subjects.

Copyright

Unless otherwise stated All images © HESO Magazine, 2011.

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Rabia - Interview with Sebastián Cordero & Martina García

Rabia – Interview with Sebastián Cordero & Martina García

Orson Welles once said that the only boring story was one whose balance was walked down a highway rather than on a tightrope. He was hinting at the success that often comes as a result of the precarious equilibrium at which adventurous storytellers excel. It is a dangerous kind of balance that fits this study in violence so well. Rabia, or rage, exists on the edge of society, the periphery of humanity until it is brought to the forefront by forces not very well understood by anyone. Yet more than just an exposition of man’s ability to rage at his fellow man, the world at large and himself in particular, director Sebastián Cordero’s ability to show the self-inflicted helplessness inherent in violence in a finely nuanced way is what makes Rabia a success.

Produced in part by Guillermo del Toro’s Tequila Gang, Cordero’s third film is notable for its symbolic look at immigration in relation to society. Yet it is the lenitive, almost sweeping attention to sounds, smells, and the myriad mundane details of life so easily taken for granted– that is until circumstances beyond their control force them to pay attention– that makes this film stand out. The man doing the forcing is Gustavo Sánchez Parra’s (Amores Perros) José María, a recent immigrant to Spain, who has fallen in love with Rosa (Martina García), a live-in maid for a once well-to-do upper class family. The few scenes we see between the two are passionate, violent, even life-shattering, due mainly to José María’s immense jealousy toward anyone who has the merest word, good or otherwise, for the beautiful Rosa, eventually culminating in the dubiously accidental death of his boss. José María hides out in the only place he knows no one will look and where he can also be close to Rosa without endangering her: the disused attic of her employer’s mansion. Yet once inside, every moment that passes makes it more and more impossible to leave.

As cinematographer Enrique Chediak’s graceful steady-cam work moves us stealthily among the shadows of the attic and draws us ever deeper into the dark and rarely explored recesses of the house, and therefore the family as well, it is in concert with both Lucio Godoy (Music) and Oriol Tarragó (Sound Editor), that we begin to see and hear (or perhaps it is what we don’t hear) the unraveling of the man. At the raw center of the mansion is a heart that beats hard and fast against the denial of basic human rights: respect, love, a family. José María, more and more akin to a walking corpse as time continues to pass, fears emerging and losing Rosa, including his chances for happiness. So he continues to hide and in doing so allows the very rage that got him into the situation, to consume him whole.

Rabia – Interview with Sebastián Cordero & Martina García

Rabia - Interview with Sebastián Cordero & Martina García

The actor Martina García talking about her role in Rabia


HESO had a chance to sit down with Sebastián Cordero & Martina García at the premiere of Rabia during the recent Tokyo Film Festival.

HESO: Is this your first time in Japan?

Sebastián Cordero: This is actually my second time in Tokyo, because I came to promote Crónicas as a commercial release. I came before the movie was released and I’m not sure how it did, but a few people have seen it, so overall it was good. In such a different culture it’s difficult to gauge what kind of response there might be to a given film. The reaction so far has been surprising with Rabia.

Martina García: People are connecting with the film.

HM: You never know how your work might be taken in any given context, especially here in Japan concerning immigration. Is that something you are used to with your background in film festivals, for example the Ratas, Ratones, Rateros premiere in Venice?

SC: That was a big surprise. We just applied to many festivals, without any contacts, sent in everything by mail and, well, it ended up in a lot of them and opened a lot of doors for me. It was unbelievable (Laughs).

HM: Do you feel you have an advantage in these film festivals due to the film industry being so small in Ecuador?

SC: It goes both ways. When someone hears about a film from Ecuador there is definitely an interest. That only goes so far. It’s difficult to make films in Ecuador, to put together the financing as there is very little filmmaking going on. Personally, I want to work more internationally in several different areas, yet the reason I decided to make Rabia in Spain is that it is easier to put together financing for films like this, whereas in Ecuador it would either be impossible or I would have to do it for a fraction of the price.

HM: I imagine even finding a crew is difficult.

SC: By this time I have a core group of people that I work with, but yes it is difficult. For example, processing the film in Ecuador requires it be sent to Argentina or even the U.S., which complicates things. If something went wrong with a scene you don’t know until we get it back. It could be a week before you realize you have to reshoot, which is stressful (Laughs). But that is also a part of what makes making films in South America such an adventure.

MG: South American productions are much more handmade in that way.

SC: This was the first time (with Rabia) where I could see the rushes the day after and it was amazing because we could take more risks, say, “if this worked then let’s go one step further.” That’s a luxury you wouldn’t have in Ecuador and South America.

HM: This is adapted from the Argentinean novelist Sergio Bizzio’s eponymous book. What made you want to change certain elements, for example the location from Argentina to Spain and introduce the subject of immigration?

Rabia - Interview with Sebastián Cordero & Martina García

Rabia at TIFF – Tokyo International Film Festival

SC: When you are adapting a novel to film, it’s a different format and there were a few things I went in a different direction with. While I was still writing this screenplay we knew that it was going to be a co-production with Colombia and the story, from the beginning, even though we knew it was an adaptation of the Bizzio novel, one of the things we decided to change in the movie was to set it in Spain with Latin-American immigrants. Centering around the bigger communities of immigrants from South America being from Ecuador and Colombia, it makes sense that Martina’s character could be Colombian. So when I went to Colombia to see her film Saturnas and we talked afterward I didn’t recognize her from the film (laughs)…

MG: Which is good, I guess (laughs). I had just seen his Crónicas, which was very organic for me in meeting him and wanting to work together.

HM: One of the more interesting aspects of Rabia is the sense of time ala Luis Buñuel. In the mansion, which houses a dead and (literally) dying family, time seems to stand still. The only way to tell time within the mansion is via Rosa’s pregnancy and José María’s deterioration.

SC: This passage of time reflects the state of mind of the character that is hiding. It is important to not make the passage of time so strong. That is an important element in understanding the disorientation of a character who is losing touch with the outside world. Particularly how much time the main character is hiding in the house. In the book it’s much longer, and I think Bizzio can get away with making it much longer because it becomes very internal after a while. Six months, one year, two years go by and in the book you buy it, but in the movie it was harder.

HM: José María’s only constant is the rats. You seem to have a thing for them.

SC: Yes, the rats (Laughs).

HM: The sense of place and identity is also vague. We know from the dialogue that Rosa is Colombian, but what about José María?

SC: We made the decision to be intentionally vague about that, just to emphasize when Rosa says, “I don’t know anything about him.” What happens in the immigrant communities in Spain or wherever, these people gather and live together, but it’s almost as if they create a new identity and very often people living within these communities won’t know anything about one another. In the final pages of the book there is a really beautiful passage by José María that says, “I really didn’t know anything about her.” It’s a beautiful metaphor for a love story: You think you know who you are in love with, whom you are sharing your life with, but what do you really know?

HM: The movie begins very intimately with a close-up of the two main characters in bed and gradually broadens to the outside world, getting wider and wider until Rosa goes into the immigrants’ housing looking for José María. This strikes me as the widest aperture of the film.

SC: Yes, this is when you see the most of the world.

HM: From that point the film then narrows until we are basically living inside José María’s head.

MG: It becomes very claustrophobic. The house is him and he is the house. Everybody comes in but almost no one goes out.

HM: The house is a living thing that seems to be killing everything that lives within its walls, some more slowly than others. The family is coming apart yet Rosa with her unborn child is the only person fostering any life in a positive direction.

SC: I though it was an important counterpoint to contrast the love story, an impossible love story really, of two people sharing the same physical space who are very idealistic about a possible future together, even if it’s not clear how they will reach it, amidst the clutter of relationships that don’t work. So they fantasize about a future together and on the other hand, all of the other relationships, whether it’s the older couple or the daughter that just came back from a getting divorced, all are examples of broken relationships amid the utmost decadence, which is the opposite of whatever these two would ever want.

HM: Despite being in such close proximity to each other and yet not really knowing the other person whatsoever, it’s an odd contrast to see the family’s son be able to exploit his own physical proximity in regards to Rosa.

SC: You see this kind of behavior from immigrants living abroad, who don’t raise their voices or complain about poor treatment, racism and other discrimination, because they don’t want to get fired or even deported. You find people who could be very strong inside and yet they choose…

MG: …not to speak up. What I find very interesting in the film is the relationship between fathers and sons. Talking about Álvaro, the son who rapes Rosa, and his father the doctor, and then José María with his son, which is just a completely different kind of interaction.

SC: It’s very ironical that one of the reasons that the theme of immigration was important in this story was that there was a strong similarity to the reality of the families breaking apart in Ecuador and Colombia these days because the father or the mother goes to Spain and the idea is to make money so as to have a future for the family.

MG: Just like in Mexico with so many families separated from loved ones living abroad in the U.S.

SC: What happens is just because of the physical distance the family falls apart. Even if later there is enough money to reunite the family, so much damage has been done to the nucleus of the family that things don’t work out. Even though that is a subplot in the film I think it’s related to what’s happening with José María when he decides to hide inside the house because he’s thinking that this is what will ultimately be better for him and for them as a couple and that is actually what ends up destroying it all.

Rabia - Interview with Sebastián Cordero & Martina García

The actor Martina García talking about her role in Rabia

HM: Is this part of where the title Rabia comes from?

SC: Rabia has two meanings in English. The first, literal translation is the disease, rabies, the second is rage. Someone with “rabia” is a very angry person, angry at the world. In the novel, Sergio Bizzio plays with this, the disease versus the rage and even at some point the rat bites José María and he gets sick with rabies, but I thought that was too literal, too obvious. What I love is that the character carries this anger at the world with him all the time.

HM: To be honest, when I saw the poster, which is all black with just this horrifying face staring out with his yellow eyes, and there’s Guillermo del Toro’s name very big I thought, “del Toro’s making a zombie rabies flick?”

MG: Yeah, (laughs) Gustavo has this tough look. He is such a strong guy, not just physically but mentally too.

HM: He reminds me of Christian Bale’s character Trevor Reznik in El Maquinista.

MG: He ends up looking almost like a rat by the end of the film.

SC: Rosa is afraid of rats (smiles). There is an irony in there somewhere.

HM: It’s a bit like the song you use by Chavela Vargas when she sings “Cuando tú te hayas ido”, which is beautiful yet so sad, a touching accompaniment to the larger thematic devices of the film: the decrepit circumstances of the once gorgeous house, the unseen poverty lurking in the luxurious and unused rooms, as well as the separation of families. Are we doomed? Is entropy the order of the day? Most of all are the questions we are left with…

MG: What is she going to do being the biggest one.

SC: For me the final shot seems to symbolize a release of sorts. Surprisingly, when we shot that take, almost everyone seemed to think that it was going to be too long, that it wasn’t going to work. Yet when we edited it, it was amazing to see just how well it actually did work, how necessary it turned out to be. It was too long but it was needed emotionally.

This study in violence, in rage, which displays Cordero’s advancing talent for screenplay writing, is punctuated with moments of breathtaking beauty and strength, all the time acknowledging the ugliness and frailty of the human condition, doing as Welles suggests: balancing the dangerous. His basic question is, “Despite everything, can we overcome?” One of the many the satisfied viewer is left with as Chavela Vargas’ poignant “Cuando tú te hayas ido” (When you have gone) closes out what should have taken the Tokyo Sakura Grand Prix award at the 22nd T.I.F.F.

A Telecino Cinema (Spain)/Dynamo Capital (Colombia) production in association with Tequila Gang (Mexico). Produced by Álvaro Augustin, Rodrigo Guerrero, Eneko Lizarraga, Bertha Navarro, Guillermo del Toro. Directed, written by Sebastián Cordero, based on the novel by Sergio Bizzio.

With: Martina García, Gustavo Sánchez Parra, Concha Velasco, Xabier Elorriaga, Icíar Bollaín, Àlex Brendemühl.

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