This entry was posted on June 3rd, 2019

Bertrand Bonello’s Zombie Child (2019)

By Mónica Delgado

Thirty pieces, over forty films seen in eleven days, a film almost 5-hours long, three masterpieces, at least a couple of rubbish films from “renowned” filmmakers, an inmmense disappointment, two great documentaries, a lot of zombies, Robbert Pattinson, the first black woman to get recognition, a beautiful feminist allegation set in the late 19th century, the return of Quentin Tarantino, the first Peruvian filmmaker in the Quinzaine des Realizateurs, a poor participation of Latin American cinema in the official sections, Serra and Dumont, two movies in film, Carpenter and Argento, or Stallone with his Rambo. This edition of Cannes 2019 has been without a doubt, memorable.

Unlike other years, we can affirm that we’ve left Cannes with the Golden Palm we wanted. Yes, Cristi Poroumbiu La Gomera was our favorite, but the unanimous recognition of the jury to Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, confirmed an edition with a great level, despite some stumbling, incarnated in the works of Xavier Dolan or Arnaud Desplechin.

This was an edition which brought important films from women, like Céline Sciamma, Jessica Hausner or Mati Diop, unlike the last year, where Cannes became THE festival of anti-sexual harassment, but in its projections showed films of filmmakers that left a lot to be desired (Caparnáum leading the list). And also, this edition gave space for the feminist struggle through Juan Solanas’ Let it be law, which, beyond its value as a film, served its function to make this cause visible, days before the new presentation of the project about abortion rights and a healthy life in the Argentinian parliament.

The best films of the festival weren’t in its official competition. Albert Serra’s Liberté and Bruno Dumont’s Jeanne, absolute masterpieces, were the highest points of Un certain regard, and couldn’t dull the interest for the Galician O que arde by Oliver Laxe, which got the Jury prize (and saved it, since the biggest award to Karim Ainouz is almost absurd –but a logical thing to award for jury president Nadine Labaki). Also, the best films in this edition were in the Quinzaine of Realizateurs, which without being a competitive section, always attracts some of the most creative filmmakers of today like Bertrand Bonello and Robert Eggers, with two films that will definitely be in a lot of end-of-year lists.

And this 2019 edition confirmed two things about Latin American cinema: that it is still considered an arc of stories where poverty, the exotic, or magic realism seem inexhaustible. From the Peruvian Song Without a Name, Our Mothers, Bacurau, or Land of Ashes are somewhat opposed to more personal proposals, or more risky ones like Alice Furtado’s Sick, sick, sick, Franco Lolli’s Litigante or Alejo Mouguillanski’s For the Money. Two sides of the same Latin American coin, meaning that, the latter are films that aren’t being thought from the Latin American stereotype or paradigm that many festivals usually impose to the cinema they’re expecting from this territory: and exotizing gaze, poverty as an aesthetic attraction, or a sublime miserabilistic vision (in some cases). The fact that this filmmakers are proposing stories of the living dead, of theater people fighting for a booty, or of a single mother in trial for corruption; this goes beyond the fact that if this these are made in Bogota, Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro, and thus, it allows us to better rummage among the different aesthetic stories from these filmmakers, in their own liberty to film and create stories.

It’s like someone said: “Hey, in Latin America we can tell any kind of stories”, and precisely because of this I enjoyed this proposals the best, for being different to this dominant canon. In one screening I heard an Italian critic say “I liked Litigante because it doesn’t look like a film made in Colombia”. Maybe this is an answer that summarizes my argument.

Here’s my list of the best films seen in this edition:

1 Zombi Child by Bertrand Bonello
2 Liberté by Albert Serra
3 The lighthouse by Robert Eggers
4 Once Upon a time… in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino/La Gomera by Corneliu Porumboiu
5 Jeanne by Bruno Dumont
6 Portrait de la jeune fille en feu by Celine Sciamma
7 The halt by Lav Diaz
8 Mektoub, my love: Intermezzo by Abdellatif Kechiche
9 La cordillera de los sueños by Patricio Guzmán
10 Etre vivant et le savoir by Alain Cavalier
Bonus: Parasite by Bong Joon-ho/Blow it to bits by Lech Kowalski/Sick, sick, sick by Alice Furtado

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