“Vivos” is a documentary that follows the families of 43 students who forcibly disappeared in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico. On the night of September 26, 2014, a bus full of students, from Ayotzinapa, was intercepted and confronted by the police. Many were killed at the scene, others were severely injured, and 43 students utterly disappeared. The government claims that these students were turned in to the local cartel, who murdered all 43 then burned them. They were supposedly burned in a big bonfire where later their “remains” would be found.
The Cannes Film Festival will be running from 12th May to 23rd May and the selection committee has been unveiled. Last year, the festival revealed its committee for the first time which included four women, three of whom return this year. This year's committee now includes five women which we will list below:
This week sees the Berlin film festival kick-off with six of its 18 competition films boasting a credited female director, representing a 33% proportion, compared with Cannes last year with 19% and Venice with 9%. Although six films isn't an even split, it is still an improvement in the right direction. So, what are these six films and which ones are we most keen to catch at the festival?
Radha Blank’s “The 40-year-old version” is my favourite film of the Sundance Film Festival. I walked into the screening without any previous knowledge of the synopsis nor seen any reviews of earlier showings. The film begins and immediately grabs your attention you can't keep your eyes off Radha, not only because she’s the protagonist of this film but also because her presence charms you towards her. As a struggling playwright, Radha has kept herself busy with her teaching profession while grieving the loss of her mother. As she approaches 40, Radha wants to continue being creative and decides to give rapping a second chance. "The 40-year-old Version" is directed, produced, written, and brilliantly acted by the talented Radha Blank. Believe me when I say she is someone to look out for in the future. Her name will soon be familiar to many of you. After all, she won the best director prize at Sundance (deservingly so). It's no secret that I lost my mother a little over five years ago, and I'm still grieving her loss. Radha’s grieving process reminded me of my own.
“Promising Young Woman” is one of those films that begins with a very good idea. Ideas that involve the camera lasciviously objectifying men on a dance floor the way women typically are. Granted, it's played for laughs rather than sex appeal, since there's nothing resembling eye candy, but you can't have everything. Or maybe it's an early indicator of what the movie's real agenda is, which is condemning anyone who violates its ideas of what good behaviour should be, rather than people who suffer from such expectations. Not that it's a bad idea to condemn violence, which is the real villain in “Promising Young Woman.” In case the marketing left any doubt, the movie addresses a very specific kind of violence that dares not speak its name here.
Call me the worst feminist stereotype you can think of, but I’m glad that female rage and revenge are starting to be a big thing in movies. So you’d think I would be just the audience for “Amulet,” a horror film that’s also the feature directorial debut of actress Romola Garai no less. Alas, while the movie exudes a whole lot of righteous, well-earned anger, without a real focus it’s merely one nonsensical plot twist after another. Tomaz (Alec Secareanu) is a former soldier whose past traumas have left him homeless. But a chance encounter (or maybe not so chancy) leads him to a rapidly decaying home, where a young woman named Magda (Carla Juri) is caring for her ailing mother.
“Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always” by Eliza Hittman, follows a pregnant 17-year-old who decides to go to New York to have an abortion performed. She resides in Pennsylvania, where the abortion laws are strict, so after some searching, she finds New York is the best place to get the procedure (without needing parental consent). I walked into this film knowing absolutely nothing, then the movie began, and I observed that it’s about a pregnant teenager. I immediately felt a knot in my stomach because I could relate to Autumn (I became pregnant with my first daughter when I was 16).
"Mucho Mucho Amor" is a documentary following the life of the iconic Puerto Rican astrologer, Walter Mercado. When I first heard that this documentary would be screened at Sundance, it immediately became my most anticipated film because I grew up watching him. I can recall seeing him on television Monday through Friday on Primer Impacto at approximately 5:45 pm to give the horoscope of the day. As this documentary accurately depicts, everybody at the house had to be quiet while he was on. We will all sit quietly and pay close attention to see what our horoscope will say, but then that was it, and we will continue with our day. I never knew anything outside of the celebrity, and this documentary navigates through Walter’s life, all leading to a special 50-year commemoration.
“I Lost My Body” (2019) is the first feature film by director Jérémy Clapin. It was shown as part of the “Dare” stream at London Film Festival 2019 which was described as “In-your-face, up-front and arresting: films that take you out of your comfort zone”. That certainly is a good description of this film. The Cannes Critics’ Week Grand Prize winner engages all the senses to take you on a melancholic and emotional journey towards a gruesome end.