. The winners of the 8th Cinema Tropical awards will screen at the Museum of the Moving Image this coming weekend, February 2-4. I was part of the fiction film jury last year and, if the criteria haven’t changed, the awards are for Latin American films with a festival premiere between May 2016 and April 2017. While I haven’t seen all of this year’s winners, I’ll be posting a new piece on Affonso Uchoa’s and João Dumans’ Araby (Arábia), which won Best Film after premiering at New Directors/New Films, as well as republishing and translating an article I wrote for Cinética on Eduardo Williams’ The Human Surge (El Auge del Humano – Best Director), in comparison with Barry Jenkin’s Moonlight, both seen at the 54th New York Film Festival.
. I will also be writing about Daniela Thomas’ Vazante, which premiered last year at the Berlinale and just finished its New York theatrical run at IFC this past Thursday. It’s a specially interesting case of radically discordant critical readings, a dissonance that becomes more obvious when one compares some of the U.S. reviews with the split critical reception it received in Brazil.
. Still on Brazil-New York connections, there are two great gallery exhibitions by Brazilian artists in the city, now approaching their final days. The Americas Society is hosting Empty Man, the first U.S. solo exhibition of the great José Leonilson. Leonilson’s work is an endless source of discoveries, primarily for how his poignantly personal sensibility embraces and claim whatever comes its way – from his queer approach to materials (fabric, magazines, stones, pillows, etc) and techniques (from collage to poetry), to the certainty of a premature death (at 36) in the first HIV crisis, which becomes a major theme in his later work. Empty Man is well-worth the trip to the Upper East Side, but a few blocks from there Elizabeth Jobim’s In this place, at Henrique Faria, revisits Brazilian Neo-Concretism to highlight how irregularities, asymmetry, and traces of technical and material underdevelopment open up different rhythmic and semantic possibilities for geometry.
. The 21st Mostra de Tiradentes opened the Brazilian festival calendar with jury awards to Baixo Centro, by Ewerton Belico and Samuel Marotta; Inaudito, by Gregorio Gananian; Lembro Mais dos Corvos, by Gustavo Vinagre (whose previous film, Nova Dubai, played at Art of the Real in 2015), and the short Calma, by Rafael Simões. While I’m yet to see most of the films, in the past few years Tiradentes has established itself as one of the most interesting sources for new Brazilian cinema, favoring risk-taking over aesthetic accomplishment. Irregular by nature, the festival has both showcased titles that had a hard time playing at other festivals, and premiered films that ended up being quite successful in the international festival circuit, such as Baronesa (2017), by Juliana Antunes; Branco Sai, Preto Fica (White Out, Black In, 2014), by Adirley Queirós; previous works by Affonso Uchoa (one of the directors of Arábia), as well as by many directors premiering new work in Rotterdam this year – such as Guto Parente, Pedro Diogenes, Tavinho Teixeira, and Marina Meliande.