Letter a film by Sergei Loznitsa
2013 | HD / Blu-ray | Color | 20 min
Over 10 years ago, Loznitsa shot astounding black-and-white footage at a psychiatric institution in a forgotten corner of Russia. Since then it has resided in his archive. In recent years, he has made documentaries all on the same subject: ‘Homo Sovieticus’. In Letter he describes this country as a place inhabited by unconscious prisoners. No human voice can be heard and the pain is stifled in this unsullied environment.
Penumbra a film by Eduardo Villanueva
2013 | México | HD / Blu-ray | Color | 98 min
Portrait of a poor and aged couple waiting for death and filling time with the rituals of routine. Picturesque and realistic documentary, with a leading role for the wild Mexican countryside under the smoke of one of the most active volcanoes on the continent.
The border area between the Mexican coastal provinces of Jalisco and Colima is dry, rocky and wild. The sparse population of this poor and isolated region speaks a dialect difficult to follow for outsiders. Their everyday battle for existence is larded with rituals, in which spirits and natural faith play an important role.
The film follows the old hunter Adelelmo Jimenez on his journeys through the forest, setting traps for wild animals and searching for medicinal plants. His pious wife Dolores stays at home, does the washing, prepares a frugal meal.
‘Penumbra’ is a term from optics and means half-shadow. Eduardo Villanueva shot his entire film in the hours between daylight and darkness. In this way, he augments the mood of a state in between, a social vacuum in which time seems to stand still. This is also a reference to the clair-obscur in paintings by for instance Caravaggio – intemperate, dramatic light-dark contrasts suggesting depth and volume.
Besides being painterly, ‘Penumbra’ is deeply human. Via the lives of an ageing married couple, the film portrays a world that is disappearing. Adelelmo Suffers from asthma, which not only affects his lungs but also his mental defences. Dolores mourns for her son, who was stabbed to death trying to cross the Mexican-American border. She’s waiting for the end.
Descriptions courtesy of Rotterdam Film Festival.
Evgeny Gusyatinskiy studied film history and theory at the VGIK (All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography). Aftter his studies, Gusyatinskiy has been working as a film critic and journalist for a range of Russian media. He is an editor of Film Art (Russian: Iskusstvo Kino), the oldest film magazine in Europe. Gusyatinskiy has been visiting IFFR since 2005, where he was part of the IFFR’s Young Film Critics Project. He has been selecting full-length films for the Kinotavr Film Festival in Sochi since 2006 and compiles programmes for the Pioner Cinema arthouse cinema in Moscow. For IFFR, Evgeny Gusyatinskiy selects feature films from Russia, Central and Eastern Europe.
Inge de Leeuw studied Cultural Studies and Film & Television Studies in the Netherlands. She started working at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) in 2006 which she combined with working in film production. Inge de Leeuw is selecting films for the IFFR from North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and is in the selection committee of the Tiger Awards Competition. For IFFR she curated several thematic programmes about the relationship between film and popular culture (fashion, television, augmented reality). Besides IFFR Inge de Leeuw is also writing about film and related media.
Originally from Mexico City, Lucila Moctezuma has collaborated with New York’s independent film community since 1996. Previous to joining UnionDocs she was manager of the Production Assistance Program at Women Make Movies, a program that provides support to women filmmakers in the development of their media projects. Formerly, she was director of the Media Arts Fellowships for the Rockefeller Foundation, a highly prestigious program that supported media artists in the U.S. and Latin America, and she founded and was coordinator of the TFI Latin America Media Arts Fund for the Tribeca Film Institute. Lucila sits on the founding executive board of Cine Qua Non Lab, a residency for international filmmakers based in Michoacán, Mexico, is vice-president of the board of trustees of The Flaherty, and serves on the advisory board for Rooftop Films. She has frequently collaborated with international film festivals including the Morelia Film Festival in Mexico and the Huesca Film Festival in Spain and media organizations, such as Cinema Tropical. She has served on selection panels for the Jerome Foundation, the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund, the International Emmy Awards, the Gucci Ambulante Fellowship (Mexico), and Cinergia Foundation (Costa Rica) among others. Her work as associate producer includes the documentary series “The New Americans” for Kartemquin Films, and “Shocking and Awful” for Deep Dish TV, which was part of the 2006 Whitney Biennial. She studied Philosophy at Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City.
Eduardo Villanueva (1970, Mexico) is an artist and independent filmmaker. He is a scriptwriter, director and producer. He studied music and architecture in Guadalajara. His first feature film Reise Nach Tulum/A Trip to Tulum (2011) took seven years to produce. With the script Tramp (2010) he was granted by the Global Film Initiative Award. Penumbra, his second film, was supported by the Hubert Bals Fund. It was a nominee for the Tiger Award 2013 and received the Lions Film Award at Rotterdam IFF. It has been presented in more than 20 film festivals around the world such as Edinburgh, Durban, Thessaloniki, Morelia, Brightson, Teplice, Gijón, Kerala, the Museum Reina Sofia in Madrid. The film received the FIPRESCI Award at the 28th Mar del Piata IFF.