BERLINALE 2018: THEATER OF WAR, THE HEIRESSES

This entry was posted on February 17th, 2018

Teatro de Guerra

Por Aldo Padilla

The history of the Malvinas war is a tale with strange nuances, since it doesn’t carry the same name for Argentinians and English, who call them Falklands. The story that both countries tell is pretty different. Then, how is it possible to represent a conflict trying to avoid a position or doctrine? There’s not a concrete answer to this eternal question. The idea of impartiality is a utopia, and an approximation to a subjective reality is all that is left.

The artist Lola Arias finds a partial solution with a kind of game in Theater of War, bringing together six English and Argentinian veterans to be part of a series of testimonies, theatrical representations and joined activities as a way to interact with former enemies of a war with open wounds. Each one of the participants seems to have been chosen to define a war that requires all sorts of different abilities, from specialized marines, to pilots, navy and a Nepalese soldier that represents all the foreign people that fought for England in a war that wasn’t theirs.

But, where’s the cinematographic in Arias’ film? If the artistic idea behind the representation is clear, what makes this a subject for cinema? The montage shows a constant dialogue among the different situations of the protagonists of the film; their parallels allow us to define the nuances and the impact that being a survivor generates. And it’s in the montage that the intentions of Lola Arias become clear, since she seems to be looking to pose a discourse that keeps reaching a sentimental intensity from the veterans now turned actors, and how they seek to transmit the moment of war to other young actors who represent them in the moment of war.

The editing is at all times serving the artwork as such, which is the terrain in where the filmmaker feels more comfortable, but inside this little world there’s a composition that enters the cinematographic terrain, and while it might not be enough, the hybrid that Arias looks for takes a life of its own ad allows the play go beyond the filmed theater. There’s a role that every participant plays, and everything flows into acquiring a new identity, a way of forgetting a role that is still hurting, somehow.

Las Herederas

Subtlety is something that has been a part of LGBT cinema, since in general; the characters of films in this code live repressed in some way, internally and by society. This makes that there’s always something that appears to be hidden in the world of their protagonists, not only for the ones that didn’t come out of the closet, but the others that did so, but always find something they can’t say. This repression strongly surrounds Chela, the lead character in The Heiresses, who seems to live in multiple decompositions. In one side, a house that slowly becomes empty from the sales of everything in it, moments where the protagonist is deeply offended by the condescendence of the buyers, taking in account that she was in her moment part of the richest class of Paraguay, and now everything seems to crumble. In the other side, Chiqui, a dominant couple that must spend a time on jail due to a debt with the bank, brings a constant emotional internal tension because of a passion that corrodes her to this younger woman that consumes her little by little. The great work of Martinessi and the actress is based in how little explicit is this decomposition.

The film is delimited in small acts, where the first one is the weakest one, since the couple doesn’t seem to have a strong chemistry and doesn’t reflect the supposedly 10 years that they spent together. Once the partner is in jail, with all the weight on Chela’s character, the film takes off to show the intimacy of the lead character, who has to become a taxi driver for a group of rich old women with a rancid ideology, characteristic of the Latin American high classes. In this job is where she meets Angy, a liberal rich woman that generates a constant doubt in the protagonist’s world. This change of tone takes the film to a group of scenes where every gesture matters to understand the spiral of despair and desire that consumes Chela, the inner explosion and the oblivion of everything she built for years, turning her into an adolescent desperate for any sign of correspondence.

Las herederas does a good job in portraying the feminine universe, where men are just complements and seem to come out only as moving wallets. The heritage of the actresses is defined by a society that lived 40 years of dictatorship, besides the explicit legacy of the protagonist that little by little sinks due to the economic problems that doesn’t seem to end and that accumulate to leave her with emotions that can’t be articulated. There’s little more beyond a self-heritage of something that the protagonist leaves for herself for a future, the inner conquest as the only patrimony.

Teatro de Guerra
Written and directed by: Lola Arias
Cast: Lou Armour, David Jackson, Rubén Otero, Sukrim Rai, Gabriel Sagastume, Marcelo Vallejo
Producers: Gema Juárez Allen and Alejandra Grinschpun
Cinematographer: Manuel Abramovich
Editing: Anita Remón, Alejo Hoijman

Las Herederas
Director: Marcelo Martinessi
Cast: Ana Brun, Margarita Irún, Ana Ivanova, Nilda Gonzalez, María Martins,  Alicia Guerra, Yverá Zayas
Producers: Sebastián Peña Escobar, Marcelo Martinessi
Written by: Marcelo Martinessi
Cinematographer: Luis Armando Arteaga
Editing: Fernando Epstein