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!
La Isla Mínima (The Marshland)
Directed by Alberto Rodríguez
Showing at the Guild Cinema on Saturday, September 19th at 5PM
La isla mínima won thirteen prizes at Spain’s Goya Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Score and Best Screenplay.
Director Alberto Rodríguez takes us to the territory of his home, where he was born and raised: Andalucía – the deep south of Spain. He takes us there for a mysterious thriller that takes place in 1980. Two detectives with different opinions on how to treat their work unite to investigate the murder of two young women in town. The texture of the film along with the small town mystery and the southern landscape is reminiscent of the first season of True Detective. The artistic aesthetic of the frames were inspired by the photography of Atín Aya. Not only does this film thrill, but it connects to history and politics.
One of the detectives is older than the other, and his style is stuck in the days of Franco’s brutal regime, which is now supposedly finished, although so many of its remnants hang linger above the rural roadways fo the town like gossip and dust in the heat. One of the directors stated linkages with the Franco regime is the state’s poor treatment of women and misogyny that prevailed during the Franco era, but is by no means gone from the culture. As the two detectives, from two distinct epochs of Spain’s recent history, attack the truth of the crimes against these young women, truths about the nature of the community also come to light.
One of Spain’s most celebrated films in recent memory and one that has had a strong reception here in the US, La isla minima is not a film you should miss. Showing at the Guild Cinema on Saturday, September 19th at 5PM. See you all there!!