Sunday, March 18, 2012

ND/NF 2012: Historias que so existem quando lembradas/Found Memories

There are NF/ND 2012 Preview write ups I did with the esteemed Peter Gutierrez over at twitch. Click here to view.

Historias que so existem quando lembradas/Found Memories (2011) - Murat
Aging Madalena (Sonia Guedes) in a small rural mountain village goes about her routine life- getting up at dawn to make bread, walking along the railroad tracks to deliver the bread to Antonio (Luiz Serra), getting into tit-a-tat sessions with him about how to arrange the bread on the shelf, complaining about the taste of coffee he makes, hearing him talking about the weather, attending a mass at the local church and writing letters to her long dead husband. All of that changes when Rita (Lisa E Fávero), a young photographer, shows up, asking for a place to stay for a few days.

The arrival of the mysterious stranger makes some ripples in the village mostly consists of old folks. At first Madalena is apprehensive about the manifestation of this young person in her life and rightfully so. Rita is indeed a weird one. She takes photos, often with her made-up pinhole cameras (big tin cans), of old buildings and artifacts, never people. When asked about why she came to the village, with her trademark smirk, she avoids the question. But soon Rita's nonchalance and brevity win over the oldsters including Madalena. When she is invited to the mass and the communal lunch afterword, Rita finds out that the town's cemetery that she wanted to photograph is closed. "God doesn't want us to die." One of the villagers tells her.

Rita's presence in the house makes Madalena question her own mortality. With her failing health, Madalena laments her woes to Antonio, "I don't want to die." "Then don't die. Live as much as you want to," he answers. When it's time for Rita to leave, Madalena gives her the key to the cemetery gate. Fávero portrays perhaps the most beguiling angel of death, who dances around to Franz Ferdinand in her headphones.

With graceful performances by Guedes, Serra, Fávero and non-actors who play villagers and beautiful cinematography (especially Rembrandt-esque indoor scenes only lit by candles), Found Memories is a moving tribute to memories we hold dear to ourselves. Murat's sensitive, leisurely storytelling style reminds me of magic realism in Latin American literary tradition.

Found Memories plays part of New Directors New Films 2012. For tickets and info, please visit ND/NF website.