After winning the Golden Wolf for Best Film at its world premiere in Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, Rubén Mendoza’s 2018 feature, Niña Errante (Wandering Girl) will open FICCI, Colombia’s international film festival in historic Cartagena de Indias tomorrow. Here’s what to expect from the Colombian director and what other treats to keep an eye out for…
Niña Errante begins with four women meeting at a man’s funeral. Although they’ve never met before they are all daughters of the deceased; they are sisters. Angela, the youngest, is the only sibling who lived with him. Now orphaned, her sisters take her across Colombia to a long-lost aunt in order to avoid leaving her in the care of social services. As her newfound sisters learn about the father they never knew, Angela learns the challenges and joys of becoming a woman.
Rubén Mendoza is a household name in Colombia, having shown a small inventory of films at FICCI film festival in previous years, including his debut La sociedad del semáforo (The Stoplight Society) and the progressive documentary Señorita María, la falda de la montaña (Señorita María: Skirting the Mountain.) Critics highlight the focus on physical intimacy in Niña Errante, and claim Mendoza’s filmic eye represents that of a budding teenager curious at her body’s changes, rather than a devious male gaze. Notably, the film crew is made up almost entirely of women, both in front of and behind the camera, and Sofía Oggioni’s cinematographic touch gives the film a deeper feminine insight.
The coming-of-age road trip film also won the Best Music award at Talinn Black Nights Film Festival. The music was composed by the wonderful female duo Las Áñez, whose voices take on many forms, mimicking natural sounds or standing in place of traditional instruments. Their style bridges jazz and folklore, pop and eulogy. The twins met Rubén Mendoza whilst singing for his documentary El Valle sin Sombras (The Shadowless Valley), which told the story of one of the worst tragedies to hit Colombia, the devastating landslide that wiped away the town of Armero 1985. Mendoza has since directed three videos from their album Al Aire. Las Áñez’s powerful voices are the perfect match to the bewitching performance of Sofia Paz Jara, who plays the lead role.
Other films to look out for at the 59th Cartagena Film Festival are Tarde Para Morir Joven (Too Late to Die Young), a textured childhood memoir of growing up in an eco-community from Dominga Sotomayor. The film is also showing in the UK in May, at the Festival of Latin American Women in Arts alongside fellow chilena Marialy Rivas’ Princesita. Another one to watch is Mexican feature Xquipi’ Guie’dani (Guie’dani’s Navel), which broaches similar topics to Roma, but portrays a rebellious Zapotec teenage character who is ‘the extreme opposite of the benevolent domesticated nanny who immaculately fulfils her destiny in Roma,’ according to La Jornada.
VR will also feature for the first time ever at FICCI. COCA, or Coca Sagrada (Sacred Coca) is an audiovisual journey alongside the jaguar shamans of Yuruparí. The immersive VR documentary is an ethnographic exploration of the region’s relationship with certain plants, and a spiritual voyage into the ritual daily life of the Barasano, Tatuyo and Makuna people who inhabit the River Pira Paraná in the northeast of Amazonia.
Omí, another VR production, takes the viewer into the heart of ceremonial Santería in an immersive percussive experience. Building steadily into a frenetic musical experience, Omí allows the viewer to enter a spiritual, trance-like state in four temporal stages. The film brings together new technologies, experimentation and ceremonial Yoruba dance. According to FICCI, viewers enter an infinite, black spiritual space. Bring it on!
Read a detailed review of Niña Errante here.
Photo credits: Hollywood Reporter