Central America and Caribbean

Cinco dias sin Nora (2009)
Mariana Chenillo
Mexico
92′
Before dying, Nora devises a plan to make José, ex-husband, take care of her funeral. But she misses something-the only flaw in the plan, a mysterious photograph left under the bed, will lead to an unexpected outcome that will remind us that sometimes the greatest love stories are hidden in the smallest places.
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Madagascar (1994)
Fernando Pérez
Cuba
48′
"I dream exactly what I live every day," a professor, bored with her mundane life, tells her therapist. But the visual evidence on screen at the start of "Madagascar" suggests that dreams are never that banal. Bicyclists crowd the street, riding to work in slow motion in a haunting, shadowy blue dawn. The 50-minute "Madagascar" has the resonance and eloquence of the best poetry, as it deftly turns an adolescent's search for identity into a metaphor for post-revolutionary Cuba. Laura is a professor at a shabby, stultifying college. Her daughter, Laurita, stops going to school, wishes to move to Madagascar and quickly races through several phases. One day, she looks like a heavy-metal fan, another like a bohemian who weeps at poetry and art. Slowly, she crosses the line from ordinary adolescent confusion to intense neurosis and beyond, finally becoming so obsessed with religion and good works that she brings 10 homeless children into the cramped house she shares with her mother and grandmother. The film's director, Fernando Perez, creates graceful scenes linked by the merest narrative thread. His compressed episodes make it clear that Laura and Laurita, pre- and post-revolutuonary women, share a desperate search for some purpose in life. When Laura looks wistfully at a photograph of herself in May 1969, it is a rare reference to her political dreams, yet Mr. Perez has created an extraordinary meditation on the lost promise of youth and revolution. (Caryn James, in The New York Times)
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Melaza (2012)
Carlos Lechuga
Cuba
82′
Money and love worries of swimming teacher Aldo and rum factory worker Monica in Melaza, the cradle of Cuban sugarcane. With tangible love for Cuba, the director takes a fresh look at his struggling characters: you can also learn to swim in a piscina without water. In the Cuban village of Melaza, named after the once flourishing sugarcane fields, time stands still. Even when all kinds of things happen, nothing ever changes. The State pretends to take care of everything, but it shuts the rum factory and makes swimming lessons impossible. There's no use complaining, think the inhabitants, that’s just how it is. Melaza is the heartwarming love story of Aldo and Monica, a photogenic couple who live in a much too small cottage with their fat daughter and grumpy grandma. They try very hard to earn some extra money. Their attempts finally get the couple into deeper and deeper trouble. But together, the lovers manage to pull through it. New talent Carlos Lechuga tells his critical story with humour and sparse dialogue, taking us on a journey to the beauties of rural Cuba. Far from the hotels and from Havana, but with a reality familiar to everyone who has ever been to Cuba - or faced a shortage of cash. (Filmfestival Rotterdam)
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Nuestro Tiempo (2018)
Carlos Reygadas
Mexico
177′
Set in a traditional world of bullfighting ranches in the Mexican state of Tlaxcala, Our Time tells the story of Juan and Ester, who have an open relationship, and the problems that arise when Ester falls in love with another man and Juan struggles to meet the expectations he has of himself.
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The Florida Project (2017)
Sean Baker
United States
111′
The six-year-old Moonee lives not far from Disney World in the Magic Kingdom, a run-down motel where many families are stranded. Moonees mother Halley tries to keep herself and her daughter afloat with sometimes shady methods. The strict but generous motel manager Bobby supports her as best he can.
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Toula ou le génie des eaux (1973)
Moustapha Alassane
Niger
72′
The gods have declared the drought of the country. There seems to be no hope. A holy man summoned by the king requires the sacrifice of a young woman to put an end to their anger. A young man in love decides to go in search of water to save the girl from a tragic end, but when he returns with good news it's too late: the genie had his satisfaction and Toula has already disappeared in the holy swamp.
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Ultimos dias en La Habana (2016)
Fernando Pérez
Cuba
93′
Diego and Miguel are both in their mid-forties. They are living in a dilapidated apartment in central Havana without running water or any modern amenities. Miguel earns his money washing dishes in a privately run restaurant; he, his family and neighbours also care for Diego, who is bedridden on account of his HIV infection. While Diego tries to maintain his joie de vivre, Miguel becomes increasingly withdrawn. Only the two of them know about Miguel’s secret: he is planning to emigrate to the USA and is just waiting for his visa. When Diego’s condition deteriorates he is forced to go into hospital and leaves his room to his niece Yusi. When Miguel’s visa finally arrives it’s time for some surprising decisions - and not just for him. Writer, documentary filmmaker and director Fernando Pérez has based his screenplay on the lives of the inhabitants of a tenement building. The resulting film presents a vibrant kaleidoscope of emotions. Unfolding in tranquil images, this story of an unusual friendship also provides an insight into a culture in transition that requires constant flexibility and incredible optimism. A declaration of love to the Cuban capital and its inhabitants.
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Workers (2013)
José Luis Valle
Mexico
122′
Rafael has been a cleaner in the same light bulb factory for thirty years. It is his last day before retirement, and he even buys himself a pair of new shoes for the occasion. But his boss soon takes the wind out of this reticent man’s sails. Although Rafael has been a diligent and reliable worker, as an illegal immigrant to Tijuana from El Salvador he has no right to expect a pension ... Lidia is one of seven people keeping house for a rich Mexican woman in a wheelchair who has dedicated her life to her whippet Princess’ who eats from a golden bowl and sleeps on a silk cushion. Lidia has spent thirty years taking care of the dog and its ailing mistress, day and night. When Lidia’s employee dies and leaves her fortune to her dog nothing much changes for Lidia at first. Then she begins to think about what it means to have a dog as an employer. José-Luis Valles’ film Workers paints an affecting picture of the division of labour in today’s ostensibly egalitarian society. His point of view is political, not polemical, and his camera takes its time to describe scenes not just through actions but above all in certain moods.
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Yo (2015)
Matías Meyer
Mexico
79′
Yo is an intellectually limited 30-year-old who lives with his mother in an isolated Mexican restaurant. Unsettled by a new man in his mother's life, he sets off in search of his first romantic experiences.
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