Category: Feature Country: Peru Language: Spanish w/ English Subtitles Rating: Runtime: 83 min. Director: Josue Mendez Producer: Tito Bonicelli, Enid Campos
The film’s about a young man, Santiago. He has served his time in the military, and the violence he has seen and experienced has affected him deeply. His whole generation has the same problem: they are veterans (but they’re only 20-something years old) and have no work. Many of his friends turn to crime, but not Santiago. He starts to work as a taxidriver in Lima, and the camera follows him several days. (the movie translates as ‘Days of Santiago’) We see how he deals with the world. Santiago is extremely paranoid and doesn’t know how to interact with people. He meets a lot of girls, but doesn’t know what to do or say. His experiences in the army, although they are never shown in flashback, have left marks.
The story is based on real life experiences from a veteran, and many things really happened. The director, Josue Mendez, who was present at the Rotterdam Film Festival, explained that there are lots of guys like Santiago in Peru, a whole ‘lost generation’, forced in joining the military at a young age, and having a hard time dealing with society when they return. However, a large part of the film focuses on Santiago’s family, and that part is entirely fictional. Of course, you can’t help but thinking about ‘Taxi driver’, Scorsese’s famous movie, which also centers around a taxi driver who has emotional problems and can’t deal with the world. However, the films are incomparable, because the style and substance are very different. ‘Dias de santiago’ will probably never be as well-known as ‘Taxi driver’, but it certainly deserves to be. See it, when you have the chance.
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Category: Feature Country: Mexico Language: English Rating: R Runtime: 96 min. Director: Cary Joji Fukunaga Producer: Any Kaufman
Willy, nicknamed El Casper, is a member of the Mara Salvatrucha gang and lives in Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico. He introduces a young boy into his gang, and the boy is given the nickname Smiley after a violent initiation. Casper later helps Smiley to complete this initiation by helping him to execute a rival gang-member. Casper is romantically involved with a girl, Martha Marlen. Fearing for the girl’s safety, he keeps the relationship a secret from his gang, but his double life causes his gang to doubt his loyalty. When Martha follows Casper to a gathering of his gang, the gang leader, Lil Mago, escorts her out, despite Casper’s misgivings. Mago attempts to rape Martha and accidentally kills her. Later, he blithely tells Casper that he will find another.
Shortly afterward, Mago brings Casper and Smiley to La Bombilla, a location along the train tracks where illegal immigrants stow away on passing trains on their way to the United States. Among the illegal immigrants is a Honduran family introduced earlier consisting of the teenage girl Sayra, her father, and her uncle, who are on their way to relatives in New Jersey. Lil Mago, Casper, and Smiley rob the passengers for any money they have until Lil Mago spots Sayra and attempts to rape her. Casper intervenes; killing Mago and then sending Smiley off.
Smiley goes back to the gang and reports about Mago’s death. The new gang leader, El Sol, accuses Smiley of collusion, to which Smiley timidly protests and begs to be sent to kill Casper to prove his loyalty. El Sol agrees and Smiley travels north to track down Casper. On the train, the still shocked Casper is avoided by other passengers. When some try to throw him off the train, Sayra warns Casper and keeps on approaching him, despite her father’s warnings. Casper’s knowledge from previously smuggling gang members and avoiding the police proves useful, as he eludes his pursuers. He is finally accepted by Sayra’s family but decides to leave the train while the others are sleeping. Unbeknownst to Casper, Sayra follows him off the train. Meanwhile, her father and uncle decide to continue the journey.
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