Handyman José lives with his family in La Soledad, a ramshackle villa located in what was once among Caracas’ most affluent neighborhoods. After learning that the villa’s owners are planning to sell the estate, José seeks any solution that might keep his six-year-old daughter from growing up in Caracas’ crime-sodden slums. Might that fabled treasure supposedly hidden in La Soledad’s walls offer José’s family a chance at a better life?
Florence Jaugey / Mexico, Nicaragua, Spain / 91 min / 2011 / Spanish with English subtitles
Nicaragua’s first full-length feature in 20 years, La Yuma tells the story of a young woman who dreams of transcending her bleak life in the slums of Managua by becoming a boxer. Looking beyond the meager possibilities that seem available to her (and ignoring the advice of her gang-member friends), she finds solace and hope in her training and falls in love with a middle-class journalism student.
Álvaro Brechner / Uruguay, Spain, Germany / 98 min / 2014 / Spanish with English subtitles
Uruguay’s official selection for Best Foreign Academy Award, Mr. Kaplan follows Jacob Kaplan’s ordinary life in Uruguay. Like many of his other Jewish friends, Jacob fled Europe for South America because of World War II. But now, turning 76, he’s become rather grumpy, fed up with his community and his family’s lack of interest in their own heritage. One beach bar may, however, provide him with an unexpected opportunity to achieve greatness and recover his family’s respect in the community: its owner, a quiet, elderly German, raises Mr. Kaplan’s suspicion of being a runaway Nazi. Ignoring his family’s concerns about his health, Jacob secretly recruits Contreras, a former police officer whose loyalty far exceeds his honesty, to help him investigate. Together, they will try to repeat the historic capture of Adolf Eichmann: by unmasking and kidnapping the German and secretly taking him to Israel. Rising filmmaker Álvaro Brechner’s quixotic quest strikes plenty of comedic spark from its bone-dry humor, taking great delight in the reinvigorated ingenuity and pride of its aging protagonist.
Pablo Larraín / Argentina, Chile, France, Spain / 107 min / 2016 / Spanish with English subtitles
It’s 1948 and the Cold War has reached Chile. In congress, Senator Pablo Neruda accuses the government of betraying the Communist Party and is swiftly impeached by President Gonzalez Videla. Police Prefect Oscar Peluchonneau is assigned to arrest the poet. Neruda tries to flee the country with his wife, Delia del Carril, but they are forced into hiding. Neruda, however, sees this struggle with his nemesis Peluchonneau as an opportunity to reinvent himself. He plays with the inspector, leaving clues designed to make their game of cat-and-mouse more dangerous, more intimate. In this story of a persecuted poet and his implacable adversary, Neruda recognizes his own heroic possibilities: a chance to become both a symbol for liberty and a literary legend.