The 48th annual Festival du Nouveau Cinéma runs through Oct. 20. Here are our reviews of films screening today:
In a remote Kerala village in India, a buffalo is on the loose. Escaped from the grasp of a butcher, the angry and aggressive animal storms through the village, destroying everything in its path. The opening sequence, its epic escape, is a rumbling and rhythmic tour de force of heart-stopping energy, drawing even the most skeptical audience into its thrall. Jallikattu is an absurd, gripping and often funny chase film that pits a wild animal against a village of men trying to prove their worth. The film works as a pure adrenaline-fuelled experience, but also as an exploration and critique of out of control masculinity.
Incredibly inventive, the camera seems completely liberated from traditional restraints. The camera moves with the crowd, taking unique perspectives (including points of view directly from the bull). It’s only enhanced by the almost musical editing style that works with the soundtrack and similarly uses ambient sound to heighten the film’s texture. As the film grows more chaotic and more desperate, the tension rarely dissipates. As it leads towards its literally jaw-dropping finale, it barely gives room for you to breath. Without a doubt one of the biggest surprises of the year, Jallikattu is a cult film in the making.
Jallikattu screens at Quartier Latin (350 Émery) on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 5:15 and again on Sunday, Oct. 20, 9:40 p.m.
Pedro Costa’s chiaroscuro filmmaking has rarely been as beautiful, heart-wrenching or as linear as it is here in Vitalina Varena. The quasi-experimental docu-fiction filmmaker from Portugal returns to fontainhas, a slum-like neighbourhood Costa uses as a backdrop in most of his films, including In Vanda’s Room, to tell the story of Vitalina Varena. She had appeared in his most recent film, Horse Money, in just a single scene but her emotional intensity dominated the entire film. Here Costa undertakes to tell her story; after the death of her husband, Vitalina arrives in Lisbon for the first time from Cape Verde. She had been waiting decades for him to send for her to join him, and it is now only in death that they are reunited.
If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Costa, it is composed of a series of tableaux. He uses non-actors and symbolic imagery; his locations are beautifully lit by sculpting through the darkness. It isn’t a traditional narrative structure, and it helps to know something of Portugal’s colonial history, but it isn’t necessarily undecipherable either. It’s a film that rewards patience and builds towards one of the greatest final sequences in any movie this year.
Vitalina Varena screens Quartier Latin (350 Émery) on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 5:30 p.m. and again on Saturday, Oct. 19, 8:30 p.m.
Indianara is a documentary about Brazilian trans-activist Indianara and her work in Rio de Janeiro. With an observational vérité style, the film follows her as she tries to save a home she opens up to LGBTQ+ people who find themselves on the street, as she also fights publically with a regime change. While a powerful and convincing speaker, Indianara often has to fight for space at the rallies she attends. There is a sense that she is barely able to fight for the justice she needs because she first has to argue for her place at the table, even among fellow political activists.
While much of the film is devoted to Indianara’s important political work (the film ends with the election of Jair Bolsanaro, an outspoken and dangerous opponent to LGBTQ+ rights), it’s also about Indianara’s life — her friendships, her past, her relationships. It’s a movie that has tremendous highs as well as deep lows. It’s challenging and intimate; you feel the trust between Indianara and the filmmakers, leading to candid and even tricky moments. Especially in light of the upcoming struggle in Brazil against a right-wing authoritarian government, Indianara feels like a vital document of social justice.
Indianara screens at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc) on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 7:50 p.m. and at Quartier Latin (350 Émery) on Sunday, Oct. 20, 3:15 p.m.
See the complete Festival du Nouveau Cinéma program here.