Cine Las Americas 16 Review: Panorama Double Feature

By Mark Saldana

As part of their Panorama Short Films line up, this year’s Cine Las Americas festival had a double feature of two, hour long, short films on Saturday night (April 20th).  The Panorama section celebrates Narrative and Documentary films which “represent innovative and independent filmmakers in complement to the rest of the program; they showcase a variety of traditionally underrepresented cultures and issues, personal experiences, new perspectives and aesthetic innovation.”* Saturday night’s double feature included two great films from Mexico.

CHALAN/GOFER

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

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Written and directed by Jorge Michael Grau, Chalan takes its audience on the job with gofer Alan, a personal assistant of a corrupt Federal politician. Alan is pretty much on the end of his rope. He has had it with not only the unethical behavior of his boss, and the often disturbing dirty work that is expected of him, but also with the poor treatment and lack of respect that comes with the job. One particularly bad day on the job pushes Alan too far.

Grau’s film truly is an edgy and tense short with excellent performances by the cast. Grau shows superb talent as a filmmaker and storyteller, accomplishing so much in 60 minutes that some filmmakers can’t even accomplish in two hours. One scene pleasantly surprised me as it happens so unexpectedly.  I don’t wish to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen Chalan, but the sequence reminded me of Alan Parker’s Pink Floyd—The Wall, and can be interpreted as an homage of sorts. Though only an hour long, the film could possibly be marketed and sold as a feature. For a short it feels quite epic in scope.

 

REGINA

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

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Following Chalan was another short from Mexico which also could be re-labeled as a feature. Written and directed by Javier Avila, Regina tells a horrendously disturbing tale of a wife and daughter held prisoner in their own home by an abusive husband and father. As Regina’s 18th birthday approaches, she wonders if her father will finally release her. For some time, her father has kept her bound and gagged in the backyard and treated like a dog. Regina’s mother is also imprisoned inside, but in a much different way. Antonio, a despicable and hateful man often promises to release Regina when the time is right, but that time never comes soon enough.

Avila’s film disturbs, thrills and compels with well written scenarios and characters and some cringeworthy and unnerving content. I briefly spoke with the director Avila at the premiere of his film and at the closing party of the festival. My advice to him was to enter Regina into Fantastic Fest, because I feel that this movie would go over tremendously with FF’s core audience. At this point, it should go without saying that Regina is not for the faint of heart or the squeamish. It isn’t the goriest film around, but it has enough shocking material to turn off sensitive viewers.

 

 

*Quote taken from the Panorama description on cinelasamericas.org.

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