Loles Fanlo recommends Los lobos
(Deputy director of D’A Film Festival Barcelona)

Los lobos is a small film in appearance but huge in what it transmits. Two siblings live confined to a small ramshackle apartment while their mother goes out each day to make her way in a borderland town in the United States, where they have moved in search of a better life. Their only weapons to fight the tedium and fear of the unknown are a cassette recorder that they use to learn English and communicate with their mother, and their imaginations in which they become ninja wolves who go on a thousand and one adventures, with one phrase repeated like a mantra: “I want to go Disney. One ticket, please”.  A charming, enlightening film but also very essential, in which it is impossible not to empathise with its little heroes. [More information]

And for those that haven’t seen it yet, Somos Mari Pepa, by the same director, is also available on Filmin. Another jewel of a film.

Diana Santamaria recommends Roubaix, une lumière
(Capricci Films, programming adviser of D’A Film Festival Barcelona)

The latest movie by French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin, a regular at the D’A Film Festival and which was presented in the official section of the last Cannes Festival, is a story of light, a light that emerges from macabre happenings. Following Tres recuerdos de mi juventud, Desplechin returns to his hometown, Roubaix, to construct this nocturnal, humanist, laconic, thrilling polar based on a true story. Sara Forestier and Léa Seydoux have never given such precise performances, and their eyes have never been as persuasive as they are here. [More information]

Carlos Losilla recommends the first person documentaries
(Film critic and theorist, programming adviser of D’A Film Festival Barcelona)

A possible itinerary that I would recommend for exploring this year’s D’A involves looking at the way documentaries cut through people’s lives. We have Actos de primavera, by Adrián García Prado, and La educación sentimental, by Jorge Juárez, in which the authors film themselves, over time, to show what their lives are about. But there are also Andrey Tarkovski. Andrey Tarkovsky. A Cinema Prayer and Aznavour by Charles (Le regard de Charles), about Charles Aznavour, which look at the people in question through material that they themselves left behind. Intimate diaries, autobiographical accounts … so many different possibilities. It’s also about the way we can be so fascinated by what we are told about the lives of other people, and the way that it helps us to reconstruct our own.

Eulàlia Iglesias recommends Ivana the Terrible (i Amour fou)
(Film critic and professor of cinema, programming adviser of D’A Film Festival Barcelona)

Self-fiction has become a fertile breeding ground for women TV creators and directors who find this format to be a useful platform for self-representation and for presenting a whole array of female experiences that were barely visible until now. With her second feature film, Ivana Mladenović blends the thirty-something crisis with a welcome touch of self-parody. The director returns to her hometown where she argues with her family, has an affair with a man much younger than her and wearies the doctors with a complaint that nobody is able to diagnose. Neurotic and shameless, the director still manages to avoid falling into the trap of solipsism and offers a highly pertinent review of such issues as the distance between town and country, modern culture and the relativity of fame (the film also features one of the last appearances by the iconic star Anca Pop, who was killed in a car crash before it was released). And it also reflects, from this Serbian town on the banks of the Danube close to the Romanian border, on the (im)possibility of building a shared European project. [More information]

And if I could also highlight just one title from the essential review of Jessica Hausner’s career. Amour fou is one of the most striking replicas of the romantic ideal, never before seen in theatres, based on the demystification of one of its most representative figures, the writer Heinrich von Kleist. The protagonist, Henriette, is in keeping with other anti-heroines of Hausner’s work as she finds herself trapped by circumstances that she is never quite able to control in one of the most outstanding examples of the trend in Austrian cinema to use irony to paint a black picture of what love is. [More information]

Xavi Arnaiz recommends This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection
(Journalist, programming adviser of D’A Film Festival Barcelona)

It is more than curious to note a trend in modern-day cinema to portray small communities in rebellion against the system (last year, for example, we had Bacurau and Los miserables). In this sense, This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection stars an eighty-year-old woman who loses her son, her only living relative, in an accident working in a mine (i.e. because of the system); and this is followed by the local government’s threat to relocate the small town where she lives in order to build a dam. Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (already noteworthy after his Mother, I Am Suffocating. This Is My Last Film About You) thus presents an eminently political but in no way propagandist film set in his home country, Lesotho, and which is strengthened by its striking visual composition (with echoes of films by Pedro Costa or Rita Azevedo Gomes), sound that sometimes verges on that of horror movies, and a narration that is explicitly presented in the form of a rural fable based on territory and community, offering an incisive reflection on progress in the hands of capitalist power – viewing it as a means to benefit the same people as always. [More information]

Óskar Fernández recommends Homeward
(Noucinemart, programming adviser of D’A Film Festival Barcelona)

In the Talents section, I would like to recommend the estimable feature length debut of Ukrainian director Nariman Aliev. In Homeward, a stuff character called Mustafa sets off on a journey, loyal to his beliefs —home is where the heart is— to bury his son who was killed in the conflict that has hit his homeland of Crimea. He is joined by his other son, Alim, for whom home is still a mystery and the trip offers an unexpected opportunity to awaken his adult life. The relationship between father and son, which until now has been distant, flourishes in every way as different events unfold on their peculiar odyssey, which the director uses to hint at his own views of immigration and war. A open-hearted travelogue on a road to a point of no return. [More information]

Tariq Porter recommends Algunas bestias
(President of Federació Catalana de Cineclubs, editor of D’A Film Festival Barcelona)

Contemporary Chilean cinema is enjoying a heyday in terms of creativity. It is no longer about just one person, with the days of the Guzmán, Littin, Ruiz and Jodorowsky monopolies now long gone. The new faces breaking through so strongly include Jorge Riquelme Serrano, author of Algunas bestias. The director’s second feature length movie is hard to recommend: the insane climate that it describes becomes toxic and eventually irrespirable, difficult to bear. A weekend on a remote islet in the south of Chile is the perfect pretext for the moral dismemberment of a well-off family, and what at first appear to be hints of putrefaction, as the minutes go by, become a visceral portrait of the most terrible aspects of Chilean society and its particular way of turning power into abuse. Alfredo Castro and Paulina García lead this little tragedy that, as in some of Haneke or Pasolini’s work, needs to be seen with a conscience and precaution, because far from more dangerously sensationalist moments, it offers dialogue that oozes the revealing chiaroscuro of the individual and collective pathologies that Latin America, and by extension the rest of the world, has come to suffer. [More information]

Joan Sala recommends Ghost Tropic

A gorgeously goldsmithed piece filmed in 70 mm and gushing with humanity, Ghost Tropic opens a door for hope with a profoundly empathetic and solidary short story, ideal for such ominously uncertain times. Silent, nocturnal cinema at its very best in what will probably one of the most carefully measured offerings in terms of form of the whole festival. [More information]

Gerard Cassadó recommends El corazón rojo
(Press of Filmin)

El corazón rojo cannot be appreciated unless it is viewed as part of the evolution of the work of Marc Ferrer, undoubtedly one of the filmmakers who has best known how to portray the here and now of a whole generation and city, Barcelona, which is always decorated with his pictures. After testing the waters with Nos parecía importante (2016), and following the pop excesses of La maldita primavera (2017), in Puta y amada (2018) we could already detect a process of maturation and calm melancholy that is consolidated in his latest movie. El corazón rojo is a medium-length picture that finds in the D’A and the figure of Louis Garrel two legendary elements to build a narrative that once again revolves around the savoury and unsavoury aspects of sentimental relationships. We again encounter the impurities that are Ferrer’s hallmark: imperfect interpretations, projected dialogues alongside the naturalness of the proposal, and that underground skin that has always likened him to the Almodóvar of the ‘Movida’ or the work of the 5 QK’s, the group of queer directors of the eighties that have been rediscovered of late, vindicated by Ferrer himself in his season of ‘filthy movies’ at the Zumzeig Cinema. But the big news is that dregs now left by El corazón rojo are bittersweet, akin to listening today to the Fresones Rebeldes, as if the spirit of all the loves we never lived has been revealed, this time in the form of a farce. [More information]