I still remember the shock I felt when I first saw Santiago Mitre’s Paulina (La patota) at the Semaine de la Critique in Cannes (where it would go on to win the Nespresso Grand Prize) – and it wasn’t because of the film’s violent central episode. Rather, it was shock about how clearly Mitre and his star Dolores Fonzi could take the central theme of a woman’s choices in an extreme situation and made palpable what was utterly impalpable to me.
Paulina also won the 2016 Miami Film Festival Ibero-American prize of $10,000 – from a slate of 35 eligible films that year – and is returning to MDC’s Tower Theater Miami on Friday, September 1st for an exclusive commercial run. Miami’s jury, consisting of filmmakers Kenny Riches from Miami, Carlos Lechuga from Cuba and Leticia Torres from Dominican Republic, released a statement saying that “Paulina is a film that everyone should see” upon announcing the award at the Olympia Theater, which was accepted by Dolores Fonzi in person. Now, ICYMI, Miami has another chance to do just that.
Writer-director Mitre clearly establishes the theme of the film – a woman’s choices – in a riveting and lengthy opening scene, in which his camera is almost solely focused on Paulina (Fonzi) as she argues with her father (played by Oscar Martinez) about her most recent choice: she’s decided to give up her promising career as a lawyer in Buenos Aires to go to a harsh border town of Posadas in northern Argentina to work as a schoolteacher to some very underprivileged youth, many of them Guarani (native South American).
Soon after her arrival, Paulina is attacked and raped late at night by a youth gang while driving home on her moped. Some of the youth gang are well-known to students in her own class, and even after Paulina comes to know who her attackers are, she refuses to press charges.
Everyone around Paulina is bewildered: her Buenos Aires boyfriend, the handsome Alberto (Esteban Lamothe), her father, her fellow Posadas women schoolteachers – whose bewilderment turns to anger when their fear that the precedent Paulina is setting by not pressing charges will leave them vulnerable to copy-cat sexual assaults. Yet it is the Mitre and Fonzi’s credit that while it may be difficult to emphasize with Paulina’s choices, it’s not difficult to respect them, because Paulina shows us that’s she clear about what she’s doing.
Does Paulina pity the boys who attacked her, and their poverty? Does she not feel anger toward them because she considers them more victims than she is? Is she simply rebelling against the men in her life (her boyfriend, her father) whom she feels increasingly distant from? Is Paulina taking her right to make her own choices too far, when her choices may be putting others in harms’ way?
Throughout the film, Paulina is a test of a viewer’s sympathies. The drama of the film is in Paulina’s decisions. She lies to the police about the identify of her attackers. How far will she take it? Will she relent and do what society wants her to do – persecute the transgressors?
See the fascinating, complex Paulina and draw your own conclusions. Santiago Mitre is one of the most important filmmakers of his generation in Argentina. Paulina is only his second film, and his third, The Summit (La Cordillera) with an all-star cast led by Ricardo Darín and again working with Dolores Fonzi, has just been released in Argentina and is making its way around the world’s most important international film festivals now.
For tickets and showtimes to Paulina in Miami, visit – http://towertheatermiami.com/details/21648.aspx
The post PAULINA – ARGENTINA’S SHOCKING DRAMA RETURNS TO MIAMI appeared first on Miami Film Festival.