My Mother is a Parrot
Martin Musarra | Argentina | 2016 | Fiction | 80 min | NM Premiere
Martín Musarra is the author and director of this magical feature film. We are calling him an author because his screenplay for this film feels so much like a magical story converted to the contemporary cinematic platform. Imagine the genius of Walt Disney, Roald Dahl and Guillermo del Toro all rolled into one. That is Mi mama lora.
In real life, there are mysterious and seemingly magical powers floating all around us - sometimes if you look at something just right, it may even feel surreal, like you're in an animated story. Many artists throughout history have touched on this feeling in their work. In both the fields of literature and animation, famous works like James and the Giant Peach, Alice in Wonderland, so many of Walt Disney's stories, as well as more recent imaginations of the theme in hits like Toy Story capture this common sensation that we feel everyday on some level: surreality. Wiktionary defines surreality as "the state of being incongruous"; in other words, the state of being or feeling out of harmony with your normal surroundings. That's why you'll hear someone say, "Oh my, you should have seen it, it was surreal!" The word surreal connotes something extraordinary happening within otherwise ordinary surroundings. It reminds me of the great film Matilda, and director Musarra has mentioned in interviews that working on children's films opens up the doors to a lot of creativity and storytelling.
Combining all the best parts of magic, surrealism, and magic realism, El Mar del Plata film festival writes about Mi mama lora: “Shot in Concordia, Entre Ríos, Martín Musarra’s film is impregnated with Latin American magical realism aesthetics as it tells a strange fable—between animal and human—that reflects on our essence. Mi mamá lora breaks every stereotype of beauty, genre, and power, and that is—together with its fine cinematographic rhythm—its most precious treasure.“
Musarra teams up with screenwriters Diana Russo and Paula Mastellone, as well as music composer Yair Hilal. Hilal, Argentinian, has previous clients that include Honda, Toyota and McDonald's. He has done work in television and film before, but this will be his biggest chance to shine; or perhaps Musarra wanted a music composer who would simply deliver something solid and not over the top. After all, Musarra wants to create a highly realistic magic. Think hi-def magic realism. Costume design is incredible. This is a perfect film for the entire family. It will stimulate and nourish our minds with fresh angles and ways of looking at everyday life and interactions. The children are sure to be wide-eyed in wonder and the adults are to be mesmerized by the storytelling and Kafka-esque metaphors for life. See you all there!!
We all know the game of chess - even if we don't know all the rules or are not so good at playing it, we all know of the game. We know it as the ultimate game of strategy: a thinker's game. From a young age, all around the world, we are taught that chess is something that is to be respected and held almost sacred, even if we never become players or aficionados ourselves. Therefore, the world's best chess players occupy a very unique position in our society. Firstly, they are masters at a game which is known globally, which makes them great speakers of a universal language of strategy. Master chess players are, in a way, sort of like yogis, sages, gurus, swamis, mentors, mystics and other master practitioners. Secondly, they are respected and revered in a similar way to great warriors and the artists of war - you may have heard of samurai, commandos, knights - masters of war (not necessarily violence) but of strategy. There is an ages-old, unspoken and unwritten bond between the mighty sovereign and the humble master strategist - between the monarch and the chess player. This is a story about one of Spain's greatest chess players, who falls into a challenging situation in which the chessplayer (Marc Clotet) needs to use his mastery of the game in order to gain back his own freedom.
This is really a must-see for the whole family, couples, students, artists, film buffs, and everyone in between. Director Luis Oliveros’ connection to Hungarian music composer Jonas Breckl (who scored this film) is not by accident. In 2011, Oliveros had a big opportunity to direct the TV movie “Angles of Budapest” which actually told the story of a Spanish diplomat in Hungary. Before that film, Oliveros had mostly worked as an assistant director. His work on “Angels of Budapest” clearly provided much inspiration and creative direction as he used Hungarian cinema artists throughout this feature, El jugador de ajedrez, or “The Chessplayer”.
Lead actor Marc Clotet is born and raised in Barcelona, where he began his career rising to intermediate levels of stardom in television series such as “Amar es para siempre”. It will be interesting to see him work in this dramatic and meticulous role.
Something to watch out for in the film: the costume design, which is riveting and striking, truly transporting you into this time and place. Returning to the music - Breckl is a Hungarian composer known mostly for his work with well known Hungarian film director, Bela Tarr. Bela Tarr is known for pioneering “social cinema”, a body of work that treats fictional stories with the ethic and philosophy of a documentary. Socially accurate portrayals in the cinema of Tarr have been scored musically by Breckl, and we get to see Breckl at work here in El jugador de ajedrez. The acute drama of a chess move - the silence… how will Breckl fill it in with music that helps tell the story? It will be exciting and inspiring to watch this film. See you all there!
Although “The Golden Dream” (“La jaula del oro”) is writer-director Diego Quemada-Diez’s first feature-length film, it is not his first time working with themes and images of Mexico-U.S. immigration.
The Spanish native who is now based out of Mexico City was a camera operator in the 2003 hit film “21 Grams”, directed and written by the renowned duo of Mexico City natives, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu and Guillermo Arriaga.
“21 Grams” is a masterfully designed tale set in various locations throughout the world, one of which includes a woman and two children lost in the desert borderlands between Mexico and the U.S. In “The Golden Dream”, Quemada-Diez draws on the quiet, austere landscapes of the rural areas in Mexico that attract the many north-bound migrants seeking to keep themselves from the eyes of the public as they make their way to the border.
One of Quemada-Diez’s major achievements in this film is his ability to elicit magnificent performances out of three non-professional actors. Quemada-Diez’s “The Golden Dream” which began production in 2013 and was released in Mexico in May of this year, could not have come to the U.S. market at a better time, as the issue of Central American children illegally crossing the border has come to occupy a central storyline for mainstream media outlets since the summer. “The Golden Dream” follows three main characters, teenagers from a village in Guatemala.
In the end, it is that rawness which renders this film a sincere and not sensationalized portrayal of the journey north.
“The Golden Dream”, which won awards at Cannes,
Chicago and Palm Springs, among others, was touted for its honest and direct approach to the portrayal of the heart wrenching and vicious truths of this journey, which has come to occupy a part of the American Dream imaginary, often distorted and simplified, if for no other reason than its perceived commonality or an overall cultural laziness to delve deeply into the truths and realities of those making the journey north every day.
Working on “21 Grams” with Iñarritu and Arriaga, who together are responsible for the films “Amores Perros” and “Babel” in addition to “21 Grams” (that’s 3 Oscar nominations and 1 win), Quemada-Diez could not have been afforded a better learning opportunity for dealing with scenes and images of border crossings – it would be akin to a minor league ballplayer for the Albuquerque Isotopes getting the chance to sit in the dugout with Dodgers all-stars Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw.
This Showcase Film screening is a must see not just for film aficionados, but for everyone in our border-state community interested in truth, sincerity and the ultimate beauty, and irony, of youth and dreams. Don’t miss it!!
Screening Saturday, September 13th @4:30 PM. See you there!!