Raúl Alejandro Mendoza is a visually impaired Chicano filmmaker based out of Houston, Texas and creator of The Nerd Corps. A cinephile and artist, Raúl loves the cinematic arts and discussing them whenever he has a chance.
Window Boy Would Also Like to Have a Submarine is an ambitious project that presents humane themes but does not work to capture itself coherently.
As we continue to the last international film featured in the International Lens program of Nashville Film Festival we make our way into an Uruguayan film about escapism. Now, this is where it gets a bit embarrassing for me. I am hopelessly in love with Latin American cinema. I love the films from this region where my ancestors are from and I have watched so much from the countries in said region. I have never seen a film from Uruguay or even knew about the work that they have producing there. I was looking forward to finally exploring Uruguayan cinema but also after reading the synopsis I had interest in watching this film.
Written and directed by Alex Piperno in his directorial feature debut and shot by Manuel Rebella. The film stars Noli Tobol, Daniel Quiroga, and Inés Bortagaray who most of the cast is making their acting debuts as well except for our main actress. Window Boy Would Also Like to Have a Submarine looks at a story that connects three different sets of people through a mysterious corridor that leads to a different place along with a mysterious shed in the Phillipines that is believed to be supernatural. Throughout the film’s runtime, we explore the lingering lives of our protagonists as they escape into other parts of the world. The film explores themes of love, escapism, and a stagnant life that leads to our window boy to want to travel into a different area to get away from his mundane life.
I would like to focus on the positives of the film first, for example, this film is beautifully shot and its color palette is beautifully muted. I love color grading like this because usually people don’t find such muted colors so beautiful. It is not like that in this film at all. Our performances are patient and really sell you on our characters. The concept is very interesting and so ambitious but that is where a lot of its problem surface from. The film crumbles apart through its high ambition and suffers from some very dragged out pacing. By the time we make it to the third act, it feels like we have been watching this film for three hours but we have not even passed more than half of that. I respect a lot of what is being tried here but if this could have been pieced a bit more coherently together there would be a strong film to find in here.
All and all, not everything has to be amazing and I am still very appreciative of being able to watch this. At least I was able to explore a corner of cinema I had not delved into yet so that is to me a win!
Angeliki Antoniou’s Green Sea is a worthwhile film filled with beautiful themes and a story about memories.
By now, if you haven’t noticed I love international cinema whether that is Latin America, Europe, Asia, or any other region that holds some sort of cinematic industry. I love being able to watch stories told through a lens I know nothing about. When it comes to these films they are usually crafted differently which interests me so much as a fellow filmmaker. I just can’t get enough of these movies and I wouldn’t stop watching them even if I tried. Of course, the next film I would discuss would be an international film so lets get to it shall we!
Green Sea looks at the journey of a woman going through a rough case of amnesia as she begins to work at a seaside restaurant where she expertly crafts food for customers. Throughout her time at the restaurant, she befriends people and enters the lives of those around her all while trying to recover her memories before she suffered this bout of amnesia. The film is written and directed by Angeliki Antonio and is inspired by the novel, Gia Na Dei Ti Thalassa by Evgenia Fakinou. The film stars Angeliki Papoulia (Dogtooth and The Lobster), Yannis Tsortekis, Tasos Palatzidis, and Meletis Georgiadis.
The film is a solid attempt from an interesting concept that works most of the time. One thing is certain about this film and it is that the cast works so well together. You can feel the chemistry between all of these people and every performance felt so genuine in this. Of course, Papoulia is marvelous in this role and has the viewer just invested in her character from the get go, My main problem with the film derives from the pacing which I felt dragged so much in the second act. Our first half of this film is so strong and once we hit the second half it is just not as strong. If we had spent just a bit more time in that third act instead of dragging out the first two we could have a really strong film on our hands. I also felt that a lot of what is being presented swiftly gets forgotten in the third act in order to wrap things up.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable experiences that explores beautiful themes such as love and friendship. I’m not sure when this one will be available to watch publicly but I would definitely recommend people to watch it!
Nana Mensah’s directorial debut is full of potential and shines a light on the immigrant experience.
Nashville Film Festival 2021 is finally here! I am so excited to be able to write tons of reviews for you all and tell you all about the films I am watching on my Twitter and Letterboxd. As you can see, I started my coverage a little early with my review of the music documentary, The Fable of a Song. Before the festival started I looked through the guide and pinned down which films would interest me to write a review on because I doubt I can write one for every single film that premieres here plus I need to share this space with Brad and Luis. Queen of Glory caught my attention instantly because of its beautiful poster, but as I read the synopsis I was intrigued. Let me tell you that this movie did not disappoint at all.
Queen of Glory focuses on Sarah, played by Nana Mensah (The King of Staten Island, Bonding, 13 Reasons Why) a Ghanaian American woman who is planning to move to Ohio with her secret lover. Life seems to be moving quickly and all of a sudden Sarah’s life is struck with a family tragedy. This tragedy leads to Sarah exploring her options and what she really wants out of her life. Along with having to confront her relationship with her estranged father. Through its runtime we are dissecting this character study and a portrayal of the immigrant experience.
Nana Mensah who serves as our writer, director, and main actress crafts a beautiful film about loss, identity, and the immigrant experience. Right off the bat, this film is beautifully crafted with its cinematography by Cybel Martin. There are some very pleasing lighting setups and the color palette is enticingly rich. The score and production design are impeccable as it really creates the atmosphere of Sarah’s culture. The film also includes some wonderful performances from actors like Meeko who portrays Pitt. Meeko and Mensah’s chemistry is wonderful and every time they both share the screen it is delightful. The story feels a bit rushed and leaves the viewer wanting a bit more time with some of our characters especially Sarah’s father. This could have used another extra 30 minutes to flesh out some more and I would not have mind at all. The strength of this film are there and its commentary and message about the immigrant experience joined by a struggle to know what Sarah wants make this film worth it. Nana Mensah’s directing career will be filled with better work as she continues and I am very excited for what is to come from her.
Queen of Glory will have its premiere at the Nashville Film Festival on October 4th, to purchase tickets to attend the event visit here.
Andy Strohl’s deep dive into the Americana duo The Young Fables is a pleasant examination of life and art’s symbiotic relationship.
Life is filled with various obstacles. Sometimes we are able to move past them, or sometimes it is tough to move on. The road to healing feels so long that you feel it may never end. Some of us have been dealt a tougher hand than others but it still doesn’t take away from the various challenges we face. Us artists have a special relationship with these hardships. At times we can use our art to help move on from these hardships, for example I talk a lot about one of my favorite albums of all time, The Notorious B.I.G’s Ready to Die. Ready to Die is poetic in every sense of the word. Biggie Smalls gives us a raw and honest look into his life and he never looks back on it. Sometimes we just feel that art is the only way for us to move on.
The Fable of a Song is a music documentary that chronicles the songwriting process of Americana duo The Young Fables members Laurel Wright and Wes Lunsford. Throughout this documentary, we are watching the writing process of “Daddy’s Girl” which is being written after Laurel Wright’s father had suffered a heart attack. We also hear about the writing process of other songs like “Your Kind of Company” that is about Laurel’s sister’s fight with her personal demons. Along with the process, we are also dissecting the importance of the group’s faith, family, and experiences.
It is always a pleasure to watch documentaries like The Fable of a Song because we rarely see the real people behind the instruments. Most of the time we are just left to get to know these artists by their music or their shows. Rarely, are we given the chance to actually get to know what makes them unique. That is what I loved about The Fable of a Song, we had the chance to really get to know these musicians. We got to see them laugh, smile, and cry throughout this film, but we also had the chance to get to know those who inspire them to create music like Laurel’s family. Even though there were moments where the documentary felt like it was straying off of the path of its central direction it still found its way to make its way back. The most important part lesson we leave with after credits roll is the role of everyone in Laurel’s life and how she needs all of them to continue being the musician she is.
This is a wonderful documentary for people like me who have never heard of The Young Fables as it includes their music so you get to experience their music for the first time and get to know the artists. The Young Fables can be found on their Instagram and YouTubechannel. You can listen to The Young Fables on Spotify, Apple Music, and other music streaming platforms.
The Fable of a Song will have its premiere on October 2nd at the 52nd Nashville Film Festival at the Rocketown at 9:30 PM CDT in Nashville, Tennessee. You can buy tickets to its premiere by visiting here. If you are not able to attend the event the film will be available to watch through their virtual cinema.
Samuel Kishi crafts a remarkable film that reflects on the immigrant experience and the sacrifices they must make to survive.
I am a son of an immigrant, my father had to make the toughest decision to come over to a country he knew nothing about to be able to be with my mother. My mother is a daughter of immigrants, her parents made a tough decision to cross the border and provide a better life to their children than the one they had in Mexico. My family is filled with a history of being immigrants and we carry that with us every day of our lives. We are reminded every time we look around of the countless struggles and obstacles we crossed to be able to stand comfortably in this land we still don’t know a lot about. These are not easy decisions to make but sometimes they are the only viable ones. You have to leave your life back home and start from zero in a new place where you know nothing of the customs, language, and culture that you find yourself in now. There are many like you around but even then you still don’t entirely feel like you belong over here but you remember that in this life you have to sacrifice a lot. The Wolves is a film that follows these exact beats and speaks on this very experience.
The Wolves is directed by Samuel Kishi and stars Martha Reyes Arias, Maximiliano Nájar Márquez, and Leonardo Nájar Márquez as a family that immigrates to the United States from Mexico. The boys stay in their apartment that does not have a proper bed to sleep on while their mother works long shifts for multiple jobs while trying to make ends meet. The boys spend their days hanging out with each other and listening to tapes that their mother has left them with stories of the past and English lessons. The boys are given a set of rules they must follow but as their stay prolongs things get harder and harder to understand. All while they are told that one day they will get to go to Disneyland. These boys befriend their landlords while staying at this complex and get to know the neighborhood children who pose problems for them.
The film is expertly directed with a beautiful screenplay to accompany it. There was not a single moment here where my attention was somewhere else. I was emotional throughout this whole ordeal watching as these boys try to understand how much their mom is sacrificing for them. Maybe it is because I relate a lot to what these boys feel because I grew up a lot like them with not a lot as times were very tight with money. The film also is crafted with some exquisite and powerful cinematography by Octavio Arauz. Our main cast also give wonderful performances that creep right into your heart even when there is not a lot of words being spoken. The Wolves enriches your experience with empathy and beauty in understanding the immigrant experience. What is not being said directly is discussed through its moments of tenderness in the story.
We are following this journey with these children as viewers to understand the sacrifices someone must make to provide a good life to those they love. We understand everything must be given up when we have to leave all we know. We sympathize with the feeling of being lost and not knowing how to ask for the help when we really need it. We learn to be patient because we don’t always understand the severity of the situations we find ourselves in. Most importantly, we learn to just keep moving forward because at the end of the day we are all a culmination of the sacrifices that those who came before us made.