Melbourne Cinematheque: Tropical Maladies: The Cinema of Lucrecia Martel

21 Sep

The Holy Girl

A retrospective of Lucrecia Martel? Yes please!

Martel is a self-taught filmmaker (plus producer, screenwriter etc.) from Argentina who has been labelled one of the key figures of the ‘Argentinean New Wave’. Whilst she has only made three feature films all have garnered international success and recognition with both critics and audiences. Whilst the theme of each of her films is different Martel’s approach to them is not with her use of sound andspace being hailed as inventive and imaginative. And Melbourne Cinematheque has all of them for you to enjoy.

This Wednesday we start the viewing with Martel’s second feature, The Holy Girl (2004). As best friends Amalia (Maria Alche) and Josefina (Julieta Zylberberg) begin to experience both sexual and religious desire throughout their lives the two compulsions slowly begin to intertwine. A medical conference taking place at the Hotel Termas, which is owned by Amalia’s mother Helena (Mercedes Moran), gives Amalia the chance to use her new sexual and religious abilities to ‘save’ the sexually immoral Dr. Jano (Carlos Belloso). Based somewhat on Martel’s own memories and including few establishing shot but littered with textured close-ups, The Holy Girl was executive produced by Pedro Almodovar and played the international film festival circuit.

As with The Holy Girl, Martel’s debut feature The Swamp (2001) is based on memories of her childhood and her family. Over the summer Mecha (Graciela Borges), her husband Gregorio (Martin Adjemian) , and their teenage children escape the heat and go to their summer house. Mecha takes to drinking and accusing the servants of stealing as a way to get through the days whilst Gregorio is determined to look youthful and attractive by the pool. Yet in a near-by city is Mecha’s cousin Tali (Mercedes Moran), her husband and their young children and as the two families begin to spend more time together old tensions and repressed memories begin to rise with no end of summer in site. Winner of the Alfred Bauer Prize at the BIFF, Martel has commented that she wanted to make the viewer feel uncomfortable with both the images and the subject on the screen.

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