Five Uruguayan films not to be missed

Exploring the refugee life by the beach, the disruption to the daily routine of a small village caused by the Pope’s arrival, or the epic journey through the country towards the ocean – we are offer you a spectacular way to discover Uruguay – our list of five truly unmissable Uruguayan films:

Mr. Kaplan by Álvaro Brechner (2014 - Spain, Uruguay, Germany)

Available on VoD from 5 September as part of the Comedies à la Carte collection

Aptly using Serge Gainsbourg’s “SS in Uruguay” in the opening and closing credits, Mr. Kaplan follows the story of Jacob Kaplan – a simple Jewish man, who fled from Europe to Uruguay because of WWII. At the age of 76 he learns of a German who is prowling the shores of a nearby beach and decides to investigate. A powerful mixture of emotional depth and dark humour, Mr. Kaplan is a philosophical comedy about aging. Alvaro Brechner’s previous feature, Bad Day to Go Fishing was selected in the Cannes Critics’ Week 2009, while Mr. Kaplan was selected at the Biarritz International Festival of Latin American Cinema, the Chicago International Film Festival and the Montecarlo Comedy Film Festival, and received seven awards from the Uruguayan Film Critics Association. 

Whisky by Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll (2004 - Uruguay, Argentina, Germany, Spain)

Whisky is an outstanding must-see Uruguayan film, with very strong performances telling an incredibly sensitive and humane story. It examines the complex fraternal relationship between the rich and successful Hernan and his brother, Jacobo, who is trying to prove his own worth. Full of subtle gestures and metaphorical scenes, the film is an emotional representation of humans’ daily struggles in finding their life’s meaning. The film won the FIPRESCI prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard in 2014 and won awards at numerous other international film festivals, including Chicago, Thessaloniki, Havana and Tokyo.

Gigante by Adrián Biniez (2009 - Uruguay, Argentina, Germany, Spain, Netherlands)

Gigante is a story set in Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, and follows the monotonous life of Jara, a solitary and quiet man in his thirties, which is flipped on its head when he falls in love with Julia. Gigante is a film with very little dialogue as it explores the consuming power of voyeurism. While Jara is far from being a threat, he strikes the audience with overprotectiveness and loneliness. The film is won a Silver Bear at the 2009 Berlinale, the Horizons Award at San Sebastián and many others.

The Pope’s Toilet by César Charlone and Enrique Fernandez (2007 - Uruguay, Brazil, France)

This film, directed by the DoP for City of God and The Constant Gardener, César Charline, is set in 1988 in Melo, a Uruguayan town on the Brazilian border preparing for the arrival of Pope John Paul II. Full of enthusiasm, the locals hope not only for divine blessing, but also a small share of material happiness. The Pope’s Toilet is an excellent film, a realistic portrait Melo’s town its people that serves as a broader metaphor for the struggles of the poor and their efforts in doing their best to survive. The film was selected in Cannes’ 2007 Un Certain Regard section, as well as at the San Sebastián and Sao Paolo film festivals.

Seawards Journey by Guillermo Casanova (2003 - Uruguay, Argentina)

Seawards Journey follows five villagers, who set out on a journey to see the ocean for the first time. A film about dreams and friendship with simple but stunning cinematography showing the beauty of the Uruguayan countryside, Seawards Journey is extremely successful in making the audiences feel the warmth and vulnerability of its characters, thus making it one of Uruguayan cinema’s most unforgettable films. The film, which was also Uruguayan submission for the 76th Oscars, has won many awards, including some from the Uruguayan Film Critics Association, Mar de Plata and Huelva Latin American film festivals. 

02 September 2016, by Cineuropa