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April 24 – April 27, 2015

A Visit from Fernando Eimbcke

Over the past decade, Mexican filmmaker Fernando Eimbcke (b. 1970) has established himself as one of the most influential young directors in Latin America. In all three of his feature films, Duck Season, Lake Tahoe and Club Sandwich, Eimbcke provides brief glimpses into the lives of young characters traversing the formable and transformative times of adolescence. Throughout his oeuvre, Eimbcke displays a remarkably deft comedic sensibility that captures the idiosyncrasies and slight wonders of childhood innocence and naiveté.

Influenced by American filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, Eimbcke’s distinct and minimalist style utilizes a fixed camera, long takes and frequent cuts to black. The slow pace and minimal plots may confer a modest and unassuming quality, yet Eimbcke’s films are far from simple. Generating complexity in his characters and films within his narrow, self-imposed confines, Eimbcke expresses the subtle sweetness and dignity of the mundane and quotidian; banal occurrences are catalysts for both humor and plot progression.

While there is a tendency for films to exoticize childhood and adolescence, Eimbcke consistently advances beyond this trope and gives a distinct voice to his youthful characters. In Duck Season, the films’ protagonists, two fourteen-year old boys enter into an argument with a pizza deliveryman, which transforms a lazy Sunday afternoon into a fantastical day full of personal revelations and absurdity. Despite the jovialness of the film, Duck Season confronts deep questions regarding friendship, growing up and sexuality. In the more somber Lake Tahoe, the young protagonist inexplicably crashes into a lamppost and embarks on a semi-surreal search around an empty and desolate town looking for the necessary parts to repair his car. Throughout, he encounters an immense grief while interacting with the film’s assortment of strange characters. 

With their carefully developed visual aesthetics and distinct personalities, the settings in Eimbcke’s films emerge as central, equally complex characters. Lake Tahoe was filmed in a deserted industrial town, and Eimbcke’s judicious use of wide shots construct a beauty in the setting’s expansiveness and desolation. He spent over a year searching for that film’s precise location, a testament to the director’s attention to detail and focused aestheticism.

Although there is playfulness and comedy in Eimbcke’s oeuvre, his work is nonetheless centered on characters facing personal distress and internal conflict. Despite the difficulties of these struggles, Eimbcke’s films are comforting gestures that reassure the audience that regardless of life’s challenges or troubles, the journey is infused with beauty and hilarity—though you might have to look carefully to find it. – Jonathan Shpall, Harvard ‘015

This ARTS@DRCLAS – HFA film retrospective is co-sponsored by the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS). Special thanks: Paola Ibarra DRCLAS

Film descriptions by Carson Lund

 

 

 


Friday April 24 at 7pm

Duck Season
(Temporada de patos)

Directed by Fernando Eimbcke. With Enrique Arreola, Diego Cataño, Daniel Miranda
Mexico/US 2004, DCP, b/w, 90 min. Spanish with English subtitles

An uneaten pizza, two bottles of Coca-Cola, a tray of pot brownies, a tacky painting of ducks and an Xbox acquire quizzical significance in the single-apartment pressure chamber of Eimbcke’s debut Duck Season, all of which gives the deceptive impression of the film as a puzzle to be solved. It turns out, however, that the only real puzzle here is adolescence itself, the slippery focus of the director’s career thus far. The film begins as a portrait of a lazy Sunday afternoon between friends Flama and Moko, who’ve ordered a pizza to supplement hours of languishing in front of the TV while their parents are out. Upon being refused payment, the delivery guy protests by lounging around with his junior-high customers, and he is followed soon after by a female neighbor claiming that her oven’s not working—a bizarre setup that proves mostly an excuse to collide four differing expressions of adolescent curiosity, yearning and frustration. Eimbcke composes his low-stakes miniature with an eye toward symmetry and domestic rhythm that alternately evokes Yasujiro Ozu and Jim Jarmusch, while his take on restless youth suggests a demented tweak on The Breakfast Club.

Sorry for the Inconvenience (Disculpe las molestias)

Directed by Fernando Eimbcke. With Leonardo Cruz, Armando de la Vega, Liz Maro
Mexico 1993, digital video, color, 7 min

 

Half Time (Medio tiempo)

Directed by Fernando Eimbcke
Mexico 2014, digital video, color, 5 min

 

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$12 Special Event Tickets
Fernando Eimbcke and producer Christian Valdelièvre in person

Sunday April 26 at 7pm

Lake Tahoe

Directed by Fernando Eimbcke. With Diego Cataño, Héctor Herrera, Daniela Valentine
Mexio/Japan/US 2008, 35mm, color, 81 min. Spanish with English subtitles

Eimbcke switched to anamorphic widescreen for Lake Tahoe, his second feature, and the effect is appropriate in evincing an even greater sense of lost purpose and aimlessness than Duck Season. The excess visual blankness of his compositions matches an overwhelming dramatic lethargy as teenager Juan searches in vain for someone to assist him with his crashed car on the fringes of a Yucatán town. In finding only the most eccentric, half-hearted and ill-equipped candidates and getting consistently sidetracked in his quest, Juan’s central breakdown gradually becomes as much existential as automotive. Like Duck Season, Lake Tahoe’s enveloping dreaminess is punctuated here and there by fleeting moments when the emotional lives of the characters come into sharp focus, as in a series of snippets in which Juan detours from his search only to find an atmosphere of anxiety back home. Print courtesy of Film Movement

Preceded by

The Welcome Ceremony (La bienvenida)

Directed by Fernando Eimbcke
Mexico 2010, digital video, b/w, 10 min. Spanish with English subtitles

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$12 Special Event Tickets
Fernando Eimbcke and producer Christian Valdelièvre in person

Monday April 27 at 7pm

Club Sandwich

Directed by Fernando Eimbcke. With María Renée Prudencio, Lucio Giménez Cacho, Danae Reynaud
Mexico 2013, DCP, color, 82 min. Spanish with English subtitles

In his third feature, Club Sandwich, Eimbcke’s depiction of his characters’ small but significant emotional epiphanies suggests the deadpan comedy that thrived in American independent cinema in the early- to mid-2000s. In the sleep-inducing dead air of a motel during languid summer days on a coupon vacation, a mother and son’s mutual wrestling with an incoming puberty eruption sends out shockwaves of Freudian tension and indistinct sexual urges, all played out in static medium shots possessed of a poker-faced sense of visual comedy. In Eimbcke’s most exciting dramatic maneuver, the film shifts in its third act from a spot-on expression of growing sexual desire hidden under parental surveillance to a poignant exploration of impending separation anxiety, articulated by the mother in sly shades of jealousy. It becomes clear that we are witnessing a crucial turning point in the peculiar sort of friendship that exists only between a mother and her son at a particular passage of his youth. DCP courtesy of Funny Bones

Preceded by

Fernando Eimbcke – So Yong Kim: Letter #2
(Fernando Eimbcke – So Yong Kim: Carta 2
)

Directed by So Yong Kim and Fernando Eimbcke
Mexico/South Korea 2010, digital video, color, 5 min

 

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