You’re Killing Me Susana (Opening Night)
You’re Killing Me Susana tells the story of Eligio, a man who wakes up one day to find out that his wife Susana has left him without warning. What follows is Eligio’s earnest quest to win his wife back by following her into the United States where he must navigate cross-cultural differences and come to terms with his own chauvinistic masculinity. While Eligio is certainly presented as a caricature of macho insufferability, his wife Susana is not much better – both are equally self-obsessed to the point of interpersonal destruction.
☆☆☆☆☆ Spectrum Culture
☆☆☆☆☆ True View Reviews
Tales of Mexico
Eight directors band together to make this omnibus feature Tales of Mexico – a portfolio of Mexican history and its inevitable repetition. Spanning from before the Mexican Revolution to the present day, it depicts key historical events through its portrayal of various families who lived in one particular house over many decades. A diversity of people/residents of the house appear in each of the eight episodic bites encapsulating violence, classism, persecution and nostalgia as a set of shifting paradigms. The hopes, dreams and ideals of these various tenants give birth to a filmic metaphor for Mexico’s transformation. It all comes fully contained and fully expressed within a singular, domestic space.
Partially inspired true events, Woodpeckers is an impossible, intriguing and energetic love story centred on two inmates who communicate with sign language between their respective male and female prisons. Julián is a petty thief who finds himself in the overcrowded Najayo men’s prison after being caught stealing a motorcycle. As he adjusts to his new surroundings, he learns to manipulate the prison system to his own advantage. Against the odds, Julián enters into an unlikely romance with Yanelly, who is herself confined to the Najayo women’s prison next door. In order to communicate, they must learn an elaborate form of sign language, known as woodpecking, right under the noses of the prison guards.
Two elderly spouses, Candelaria and Victor Hugo, live out their days during a period of strict trade embargo in the ‘90s, and have reached the point where they share the bed only for sleeping. She works tirelessly in a hotel laundry, cleaning blankets that are sent through ducts, and the couple’s only passion is a quintuplet of chickens they keep in the house and fawn over as though they were their own children.
Things continue smoothly enough, until the discovery of an illegally smuggled camera turns their lives upside-down. When Victor begins to film his wife, it turns into a sexual game that unwittingly reignites his passion for her. Excited by this revelation, they slowly shift their marriage into the fictional space of the camera lens, blurring the line between what is real and what is make-believe to tell a story rarely told.
Such Is Life In The Tropics
Violence is ever-present in the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil, a product of the anger of those with no voice. Emilio was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and recently inherited a plot of land inhabited by a community of families. In order to force their eviction, he hires an agent to help – the same double-crosser who has been collecting money from the squatters in order to supposedly improve their living standards.
The squatters are not willing to let go of the land – which is all they possess in this world – without putting up a fight. Their leader is willing to negotiate but talks are guaranteed to be tense on either side. Meanwhile, Emilio is caught up in his own dramas over a stray bullet that accidentally killed a person. What results is a disconcerting depiction of what can result from fiscal inequality.
Set in the latter half of 16th century Mexico, The Load centres on a young Spanish noblewoman Elisa, the only Spaniard who is willing to stand as a witness in defence of a rebellious Indigenous town, acting against even her own father. Eventually, she chooses to flee through new world forests in a search for freedom with the Tameme Indian chief Painalli. This is the propulsive story of two unlikely heroes who forge an intimate bond as they are pursued through inhospitable jungles by a relentless band of soldiers.
Irene is a quiet 13 year-old girl living in a small town in Brazil. One summer, by chance, she discovers another Irene who lives in the same town but is contrastingly confident and full of energy. Shy Irene is drawn to this new girl’s charisma, as well as her liberal attitude, which is so radically different to Irene’s traditional upbringing.
Soon, the two Irenes find themselves spending time together, bonding quickly. It isn’t long before they discover something else, which proves to be the biggest revelation of their young lives. With both of their worlds upheaved, they are left to navigate the formation of their distinct identities, with the support – and friendship – of each other.
Alejandro is undertaking his first year of university, and his girlfriend Sofia is finishing her dissertation. Hard-hitting questions of how long their love could really last – and whether sex is the only true motivator – are brought to the fore. Dark possibilities also begin to emerge at the threat of their passions moving into something new or fizzling away altogether.
A controversial docu-drama, El Inca focuses on Edwin ‘El Inca’ Valero – the larger-than-life but also real-life professional boxer and undefeated two-weight world champion – who became one of the greatest Latin American boxers. Known for his highly aggressive punching style, Valero is still the only champion in the history of the WBC to have won every fight in his career by knockout.
This film frames Valero’s rise from humble beginnings in the Venezuelan Andes to a terribly destructive fall through his relationship with his wife Jennifer, which was complex and riddled with toxicity. Though his career improves with every win, his personal life begins to take a huge toll. His affair with another woman only makes deeply-rooted insecurities grow stronger, and his increasing use of illicit drugs facilities Valero’s ultimate downfall.
☆☆☆☆☆ Queer Guru
Against the sun-drenched warmth of Sonora in Mexico, we get to meet Jeremy, who is a quirky and strange kid defined by his boundless curiosity. Though born to a family with not a lot of cash at their disposal, it becomes apparent that Jeremy is an extremely gifted child, which opens doors to him that were previously well out of reach.
Should he become a rockstar, chess champion or mathematician? Amid the jokes, colour and Wes Anderson-style framing, Jeremy’s newfound genius starts to weigh on him, especially the expectation of his family who see opportunities to use Jeremy’s success for profit.
☆☆☆☆☆ Austin Chronicle
☆☆☆☆☆ Screen Zealots
I’m Gilda tells the story of Gilda – the Argentinian singer of the ‘90s who, at 36 years old, died tragically in a car accident during the peak of her career.
Born Myriam Alejandra Bianchi, Gilda rose to success after she previously worked as a teacher and a gardener. From the age of 30, it took her a mere six years to achieve what many musicians never achieve in their whole lives, earning her cultural status as popular as a saint.
When Esteban’s girlfriend Isabel decides to run away, he immediately sets off to track her down. His only clue as to her whereabouts is a series of her travel videos – shot by Isabel herself – which he digs up from an iPad. What follows is a cinematic conversation between scenes of Esteban and excerpts from Isabel’s recordings, which are as spontaneous as they are joyful. Yet, as Esteban visits the same locations in the footage, all traces of joy are extinguished.