Showcase 11, “Viva Hispanica,” is dedicated to Latin cinema, but its best films focus on its strong and soulful women. From singers to wrestlers to maids, these women are pushing back against the status quo and fighting for their claim on love, dignity, or even their right to earn a living. In the process, they claim our imagination, as well.
Soy CubanaThis 16-minute documentary about the Vocal Vidas—an all-female, a capella quartet in Santiago de Cuba—accomplishes a lot in its short runtime. It showcases the group’s unique sound (part Cuban, part black gospel, with a bit of Bobby McFerrin), illuminates the lives and dreams of each of its members, and even makes a political case for art itself. “A people without culture is easily dominated by other forces.”
LuchadoraIn Mexico, Lucha Libre wrestling is the second-most popular sport, trailing only soccer. Luchadora is an engaging portrait of Luna Magica—female wrestler and single mom—and how a culture often characterized by machismo has reacted to the presence of a strong, famous, and powerful woman.
Breakfast with TiffanyA sweet, young man wakes up early to carry out a secret mission: breakfast-in-bed for the beauty sleeping at his side. This film is split into two: The first half is a bumbling romantic comedy, but it reaches a sad, startling conclusion as we come to grips with who the woman is and how they ended up together. Engaging but manipulative.
Eden HostelA comedy narrated by a porcelain Virgin Mary hanging on the wall of a brothel, Eden Hostel is compelling but too cutesy to be really effective. Ultimately, it tries to do too much, mixing a predictable mismatched romance with some trite human truths. Well-told, but not worth the telling.
RosaEasily the stand-out of the group, Rosa explores the dichotomous existence of the housemaid with nuance and passion. The eponymous character cleans the home of a beautiful, wealthy young couple, and has an unshakeable bond with their young son. When things go wrong—as they do, tragically, in the second half—she is carelessly shoved aside. Gripping and haunting.
La Cueva Sagrada (The Holy Caves)A cloying high school comedy, The Holy Caves is the story of an unpopular teenager who starts a sex hotel in his father’s house in order to win the girl of his dreams. You got that? Me neither. The film is almost offensively stupid, but it is cut together with confidence and style. If only that were enough.
Showcase 11 screens today at 9 p.m.,and Thursday, Sept. 15 at 5 p.m. at Landmark’s E Street Cinema.