Posted by paulrivas on:
(The Santa Barbara Man About Goleta is thrilled to bits to be providing Santa Barbara International Film Festival coverage for City2.0, right here in local cyberspace.)
2008 Costa Rica/France, 90 min., Ishtar Yasin Gutiérrez
Still playing: 7pm on 1/27 and 1:30 on 1/30 at the Metro 4
Ilana Dann Luna is Programming Assistant for Latino CineMedia 2009, the Latin American portion of the festival. She wrote the bilingual program brochure and was a source of great insight on every Spanish-language film in the fest. Rivas Cultural Services is a four-year associate of hers, and the first-rate information she provided was a great help when determining which of the many movies to review.
Ilana introduced El Camino to the audience by explaining, white woman to 90% white audience, that Latin American migration is more than just Mexicans. It was one of the more cogent film introductions of recent memory, and the audience appeared to appreciate it.
All that really need be said about the film is that the director is a woman born in Moscow to an Iraqi father and Chilean-Costa Rican mother. Moral corruption, immigration, tragedy, it’s all in there.
When it was over, I left the theater thinking, “Crap, what a bummer that was.” It wasn’t until I’d packed in four adobada tacos and a Sidral at Lilly’s, watched another film and driven home to Goleta that I realized that El Camino was such a major downer because it was so true to life as to be creepy and saddening, and not because it wasn’t a good movie. The more I thought about it, the more impressed I became with what an impact it had on me.
Tennish-year-old Sislaya and her mute younger brother Darío leave their grandfather’s shack on a Managuan dump to go find their mother in Costa Rica. Seeing the children travel unattended through one of the poorest countries in Latin America is as impossible not to watch as it is disturbing. Sleeping on cardboard over cobblestone is as natural as eating scraps left by diners at the public market and taking handouts from sex traffickers. Sislaya and Darío often quarrel and are easily amused by the mundane, both of which contribute to their meeting a broad spectrum of strangers.
This is a powerful movie that should not be watched as an end-of-day activity, so if you opt for the 7:30 showing tomorrow night, think of something fun to do afterwards. And if Ilana isn’t there to introduce the film, give your neighboring moviegoers a fair warning that they’re about to watch something real.