Highlights from this years Latin American Film Festival

Lawrence University’s annual Latin American Film Festival was held last week, from the 9th-12th of April, with selections from all over Mexico, Central America, and South America. Here are some films that were highlights of the festival, provoking, if not universal praise, conversation and debate.

After Lucia: The first and without question most controversial film screened this year, the sophomore effort from Mexican director Michel Franco draws comparisons to Michael Haneke and Lars Von Trier with his stark depiction of suffering and the cruelty of youth. Despite opening with a fantastic long take, the film takes about 40 minutes to really get going, after which it slowly becomes more and more unbearable to watch until the final scene’s quiet yet explosive conclusion. There was no applause as people exited the theater. That’s appropriate; it’s the kind of film that demands genuflection, that makes you wonder “what makes human beings act the way they do?”

So Much Water: Pretty much the opposite effect of After Lucia, this is a hangout movie in the tradition of Dazed and Confused or Broadcast News; not much happens except life, and nothing really bad happens. Though the film is almost glacially slow (I do admit to almost falling asleep at one point in the movie) it’s got so many quirky charms that it shouldn’t be ignored.

Gloria: Perhaps the hit of the festival, the Chilean nominee for Best Foreign Film at this years Oscars is also relatively plotless, but features a fantastic performance by Paulina Garcia in the title role that, if there’s any justice, should make her the next Shohreh Aghdashloo or Lean Olin for directors the world over. A fun, delightful, and surprisingly profound little film that should not be ignored.