Out of the six films I saw during the final week and weekend of SIFF, I gave out no 5s. Therefore, this post will include only an honorable mention, which also happened to be the last film that I saw, complete with a Q&A.
Honorable Mention: Nosilatiaj.Beauty (North American Premiere on Sunday, June 3)
(d: Daniela Seggiaro, c: Ximena Banús, Rosmeri Segundo, Victor Hugo Carrizo, Argentina 2012, 83 mins)
Called Nosilatiaj.La Belleza in Spanish, this film tells the story of Yolanda (Rosmeri Segundo), who works for the matriarch of a family; her name is Sara (Ximena Banús). Yolanda is a Wichi: an indigenous group that lives in the northwest part of Argentina (the film was shot in the Gran Chaco area, specifically where Argentina meets Bolivia and Paraguay). During the movie, she narrates memories of her culture in her own language (Wichi Lhämtes), while most of the film is in Spanish, revolving around the 15th birthday party celebration of Antonella (Camila Romagnolo), Sara’s daughter. Through Sara’s betrayal, Yolanda’s hair is cut — hair which, in Wichi culture, is never to be cut unless someone dies. Nominated in the New Directors Competition (as was Joost van Ginkel for 170 Hz), Daniela Seggiaro trusts the intelligence of her audience in this well-crafted, meditative view of how Argentinians, and indeed all of us, do much harm to indigenous cultures through our ignorance of their customs and our inflated view of our own.
Q&A with director Daniela Seggiaro: Based on the subject matter, perhaps it’s no surprise that Seggiaro’s mother is an anthropologist (the film is dedicated to her). Indeed, Seggiaro based her film on a story someone told her and her mother’s work with indigenous people, particularly the Wichi. Seggario spoke through a translator (Spencer, who did a fantastic job), but can also speak some English, which might have made my later meeting with her a little less awkward since, like many Americans, I can only speak English–and some French and Japanese.
Much of the Q&A focused on Yolanda’s hair, which is a central part of the story. One person asked about the connection between the hair being cut and the trees being cut. Seggiaro explained that they are connected: just as the earth shakes when the trees are cut (earthquake), so Yolanda shakes when her hair is cut.
Seggiaro also explained in more detail the relationships between the people living with Sara, since some of them are not her children. In the movie, she wanted it to be subtle, but the youngest boy in the family has the same father, but a different mother, from the other children. As for the still shots expertly worked into the film, she and the director of photography decided on what images to use, both in symbolizing remembrances of a past time (when Yolanda is narrating) and for arbitrary moments as a way to let the audience reflect on what has transpired, like the pillow shots employed by Ozu (note: no director of photography is listed on IMDB, but the cinematographer is Willi Behnisch).
Like I mentioned, I met with her afterwards and had my picture taken with her, after she spoke a little English, and I stood there having forgotten my native tongue. Unfortunately, the person who took my photo forgot to hold down the shutter button first so that the lens would focus correctly. Being that the remembrance shots in the film were blurred, though, perhaps this photo is an unintentional homage to her film. Regardless, I hope Nosilatiaj.Beauty finds distribution. And whether she continues to turn out solid films like this one (for which she wrote the screenplay) or turns out the occasional masterpiece, I look forward to seeing what Daniela Seggiaro plans on making in the future.
The IMDB page for Nosilatiaj.La Belleza can be found here.
And here is a trailer for the film.