Right on the heels of his report on this years Venice International Critics Week awards comes Variety’s Nick Vivarelli once again with news from the other independently run program, Venice Days. “Colombian new wave producer-director Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza’s Candelaria, a drama about an elderly couple’s travails during Cuba’s deepened economic crisis in the 1990s,” has won the top award this year.
“Candelaria (Veronica Lynn) and Victor Hugo (Alden Knight) are more focused on finding enough to eat and preserving their one remaining lightbulb than they are on each other,” writes Wendy Ide for Screen. “Although well into their seventies, the couple still toil every day for a pittance; Victor Hugo in a cigar factory, Candelaria in a hotel laundry and singing mournful laments in a jazz bar by night. Their lives change unexpectedly, and somewhat improbably, when Candelaria finds a video camera caught up in the bedclothes of one of the hotel rooms. . . . There’s an archness to the acting which is not helped by the decision to have them talk directly to camera in a couple of key exchanges. Production values are rough and ready, with the tobacco-hued interior shots faring better than the sun scorched exteriors.”
“In separate news,” writes Vivarelli, “French actress Sara Forestier’s directorial debut M won the Europa Cinemas Label as Best European Film in Venice Days.”
Vittoria Scarpa for Cineuropa: “Written, directed and partly edited by Forestier, M starts off as a drama about the power of words, slowly developing into a love story centred on two handicaps, before concluding as a liberating ode to imperfection. The protagonists are Lila and Mo (played by the director herself and musician-cum-humorist Redouanne Harjane in his first leading role). . . . With Guillaume Schiffman's contribution as cinematographer and the casting of Jean-Pierre Léaud in the role of Lila's slightly unhinged and bitchy father, the director uses important industry names to build this complex universe, consisting of subtle psychological dynamics, tipping points and a lack of affection. The film maintains a quiet simplicity by putting subtle glances, embraces and sensations on center stage.”