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Criticism reaches Cuba; Greek tragedy reaches the Dominican Republic

The Ancient Greek play Oedipus Rex featured Jocasta: a woman who liked being a wife and mother, until she found out that she was the wife and mother to the same person. I probably should have been suspicious when the latest movie at the Spanish Film Festival (The Projectionist) began with a quote from the author of that play. It was about a man in the Dominican Republic who’s sexually infatuated with a woman in some old movies that his dead father left behind. And that woman turns out to be … well, you can figure out the rest.

I’ve now seen 20 films at this year’s festival and so far, I’ve liked 19 of them. There was one movie about the sex slave trade, one about the corrupt rezoning of land, and another about both. There’s been art fraud (or was it?), an actual incestuous relationship (well, it looked like it was going to be, then it wasn’t, then it turned out it was, until it was revealed that it wasn’t) and a cute little picture about corruption in a school soccer competition.

Love Beats was a beautiful story about having the strength to fulfil dreams.

In the last six months. I’ve seen two movies that (a) were filmed at least partly in Cuba, presumably with government approval, and (b) were highly critical of that government. The first showed a run-down hospital, prone to power blackouts that caused lifesaving equipment to malfunction. In the second – called Yuli – about a real-life ballet dancer, we see people risking their lives to get out of the country, and we see why.

One of the many convincing actors in the movie Yuli.

So what movie didn’t I like? It was about a woman who unexpectedly gets pregnant, and how she and her partner resolve to have the baby. It became obvious that the lead actress really was pregnant, and we got to see her really give birth, via Cesarean section. But for those who missed out on seeing a natural delivery, we also got a flashback to the actresses’ own actual birth. The credits rolled to her breastfeeding her baby for about five minutes, which I’m sure was interesting for the participants, but not for the audience. They tried to bring things to life by having the two prospective parents argue a fair bit, but it made me think how much better the Donaher-Baker family did it in Sylvania Waters.

But a 95% success rate is great for any festival. I’m looking forward to seeing another two movies tonight, two more tomorrow, then … well, I’m up for all 32!

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Michael from Perth

A unique view of the strange and spectacular world through the eyes of Michael from Perth