The Chicago International Film Festival is one of those standup organizations in Chicago. Their October film festival is amazing; in 2013, they showed 125 films, 40 by new filmmakers. But not only do they hold this incredible film festival, they have a free program called “Summer Screenings” at the Cultural Center. From June until October, they screen a movie each week on Wednesday. The movies come from all over the world from Korea to Brazil. It’s a real treat. I’ve only been twice in the past five years so I need to try to see more films.
Last night, we went to see the 2010 Argentine film Dos Hermanos. It won the Silver Hugo for Best Ensemble at the 46th Chicago International Film Festival in 2010. It’s a character study of two siblings, a sister and brother, in their later years. They kinda hate each other but they can’t stay apart. It’s a funny film that crosses Argentine and Uruguayan borders.
The two siblings really are interesting characters. Susana, the sister, has no scruples at all. She does what she wants and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She’ll use a wire hanger to scoop out the mail of the empty apartment next door to see what invitations they get. (At one point, she crashes a party at the Brazilian embassy for fun). She seems to live off of scams with real estate. She’s crass, bossy, and seems to relish in putting her brother down. On the other hand, Marcos, the brother, has been taking care of their demanding mother. He’s quiet and responsible. The movie looks at their strange relationship after the death of their mother. Marcos tries to embrace living in Uruguay; he joins a small theater group that is putting on Oedipux Rex. The siblings have such a strange relationship. In one scene, they are listening to their non-existent neighbors with glasses against the wall. They have an entire conversation of what they think they hear but it’s actually what they want to say to each other. It’s rather fascinating and endearing film without being sappy. You really love to hate Susanna and you develop a fondness for Marcos.
One thing about the film that made me very happy was how it reminded me of Argentina and Uruguay. I can’t put my finger on what it was that was so intrinsically Argentine but it felt like this was a place I knew intimately. The Uruguayan part dealt a lot with the mate, the famous tea of the Southern Cone. It’s often drunk from a gourd with a metal strainer straw called a bombilla. It’s not to my liking but I like the tea culture. When I went to Uruguay for the weekend while I was living in Argentina, one thing I noticed that was very different between the two countries was that Uruguayans seemed to carry their thermos and gourds around. Tea-time was truly any time. While the Argentines definitely drink their fill of mate, it wasn’t so portable. (This might be just Buenos Aires. I can’t attest to the rest of Argentina). It was neat to see Marcos embracing the Uruguayan way.
Also, the little town in Uruguay reminded me of the charming town Colonia. It was our first stop in Uruguay. It’s a nice town that was formerly used by smugglers. The Spanish empire tried to ban all trade between Viceroyalties. In other words, the Viceroyalty of Peru was not permitted to trade with the Viceroyalty of the Rio Plate (i.e. Argentina). So there were extensive smuggling routes and Colonia was part of it. It’s a beach town so there isn’t exactly a lot t o do there. But it was a swell place as a student. There was also this crazy restaurant where you can eat in an old car. It’s got a tiny table set for dinner. There’s another car that’s used as a giant planter. Oh nostalgia.
The film was well worth watching. One strength and weakness of the film was that I didn’t know what was going to happen next. It’s a strength because it’s a rare feat in films these days. However, the plot kinda went along its way at its own pace, which can be infuriating. But you felt that these were two breathing quirky individuals. And Susanna’s hats are pretty amazing.
So there are bunch more films from all over. Check the schedule and see what’s playing next: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/isp.html