El Planeta: Amalia Ulman’s Spanish Tale of Mother and Daughter

New Directors/New Films 2021:

Opening Night

El Planeta

Amalia Ulman, 2021, Spain, 80m

English and Spanish with English subtitles

With unforced deadpan humor, writer-director-star Amalia Ulman presents a captivating portrait in miniature of a mother and daughter barely scraping by in Spain’s northwestern seaside town Gijón.

Whether shoplifting, trying to get out of paying for an extravagant meal, or weighing the pros and cons of low-key sex work, Leo and María—played by Amalia and her real-life mother, Ale—are constantly transacting deals, large and small, their daily urban life given to a bemused sort of desperation.

Coasting on the considerable charms and chemistry of its two stars, and shot in evocative, black and white, El Planeta is a delightful and slyly dark breakthrough for multidisciplinary artist Ulman.

Her film reminds us that every day, every gesture in our contemporary world is a performance.

A Utopia Release.

 

Closing Night

All Light, Everywhere

Theo Anthony, 2021, USA, 109m

As evidenced by his provocative 2016 feature debut Rat Film, Theo Anthony sees the nonfiction cinematic form as an opportunity for forensic exploration and an essayistic zeroing in on the entrenched biases that lie beneath our contemporary social and technological realities.

His new film is a breakthrough, using the increased regularity of body cams in U.S. law enforcement as the anchor point for an ever-expanding treatise on perception, power, and policing, and how these ideologies stem from legacies of racial profiling that in part define the makeup of the Western world. Anthony’s compelling film eschews “ripped-from-the-headlines” issue-oriented documentary filmmaking for a burrowing, intellectual curiosity, interrogating subjectivity itself and reminding the viewer that the camera, with the ingrained perceptual biases of those who wield it, can be the deadliest weapon of all.

A Super Ltd Release