by Jaie Laplante, Director of Programming
Lorenzo Vigas made history in September of last year when his debut feature film, From Afar (Desde allá), won the top prize, the Golden Lion for Best Film, at the 72nd Venice Film Festival, the world’s oldest major festival. Why? In 72 years, it was the first film from Latin America to ever win the award. Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón was president of the jury that selected Vigas’ film over such powerful films as Pablo Trapero’s The Clan, Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa and Luca Gudagnino’s A Bigger Splash.
Following 10 months on the international film festival circuit, including a stop at the 33rd Miami Film Festival this past March (where Vigas won the Festival’s Jordan Ressler Screenwriting Award), From Afar will begin its commercial run in Miami this Friday, exclusively at Tower Theater Miami.
Here’s 4 reasons why you should not miss your chance to see it on the big screen:
1.Topicality – The Situation in Venezuela
The perilous social, economic and political situation in Venezuela has been in the news all year, but has intensified in just the past few weeks with news of hunger riots, as the availability of food has drastically dwindled. In From Afar, the desperation of the current climate is felt at the edges of every scene. As in some of the most desperate times in Cuba, people have only their sexuality to trade for a few dollars with which they could survive. Unlike Cuba, the other choice is to resort to violent muggings and theft. The danger of the street in Caracas is viscerally alive on screen in From Afar.
- Alfredo Castro – The King of Creep
The Chilean actor Alfredo Castro is one of the world’s most brilliant actors. Up until From Afar, he was primarily known for his work with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Pablo Larrain in films such Miami Film Festival selections as Tony Manero (2008) and this season’s The Club, a selection of the Festival’s GEMS 2015 event, as well as in Larrain’s breakthrough film No (2012), which Castro travelled to Miami to personally present. Never has an actor with a more ordinary “normal” outward appearance achieved such an oeuvre of creepy, frightening, psychologically fraught characters on screen. In From Afar, he finally has a leading role, in the character of Armando, with which he can demonstrate the full range of his nuance – and it has lead to several acting awards at major festivals.
- Luis Silva – An Astonishing Discovery
The young actor Luis Silva’s first major film role is as Elder, the other main character in From Afar, and he’s an astonishing discovery. He captures the essence of a no-tomorrow street kid attuned to the normality of violence to take what he needs and the dangerous unpredictability of a someone who has been living in the wild, which the streets of Caracas have become (for him). Luis Silva was in Miami this past March to promote the film with Lorenzo Vigas, and it underlined how stunningly realistic and believable his performance is. Watching the film, you think Silva is playing himself; meeting him in real life, you realize he’s not.
- The Screenwriting
Great screenwriting, unlike great theater, is not usually about the dialogue. It’s about how a writer can provide a blueprint for visual (non-verbal) storytelling that is the essence of the power of cinema. This was certainly true of the 2015 winner of Miami Film Festival’s Jordan Ressler Screenwriting Award winner, the Jordanian desert movie Theeb, which went on to win an Oscar nomination. And it’s equally true of Lorenzo Vigas’ writing for From Afar. Watch carefully how Vigas sets up scenes for actors Alfredo Castro and Luis Silva where the frustrations of each character leave them with nothing to say – yet how they express their inner thoughts through actions, gives us an instant sketch of who they are, and the dramatic situation they are in. The writing also builds, scene by scene, an understanding of the inevitable logic of how these 2 very different characters, from 2 very different social classes, ultimately affect each others’ lives. – Jaie Laplante
Showtimes this week at Tower Theater Miami, 1508 SW 8th Street (Little Havana):
Friday, July 1st – 6:55pm and 9:10pm
Saturday, July 2nd – 2:45pm, 4:50pm and 6:55pm
Sunday, July 3rd – 2:00pm, 4:05pm and 6:10pm
Monday, July 4th – 6:55pm and 9:10pm
Tuesday, July 5th – 4:50pm and 6:55pm
Wednesday, July 6th – 6:55pm and 9:10pm
Thursday, July 7th – 4:50pm and 6:55pm
Click here to BUY TICKETS in advance for any show.