Using an expressive visual style, director Alejandra Márquez Abella depicts the lavish lifestyle of a community living out its final days as members of the elite. At the center of the film is Sofia (Ilse Salas), a wealthy housewife, and her network of similarly-situated friends. While their husbands conduct business deals, the women gossip about who should be admitted to the club and compete for who can host the most effortless, opulent gatherings.
Core of the World creates a dark and isolating atmosphere that is unique as it is unnerving. The film, which was directed by Natalia Meshchaninova, centers on Egor (Stepan Devonin), a veterinarian living at a remote Russian facility that trains hunting dogs. We learn that Egor had an unhappy childhood. Innocent with an open, honest face, he chases affection, much like the dogs he works with. Early on, Egor rehabilitates a mauled dog that his boss (Dmitriy Podnozov) wants him to put down, so we see Egor has a gentle heart an an affinity for the animals under his care.
Retablo is a beautifully-shot film from Peru that is undermined by the uglier parts of its narrative. The film’s title refers to the objects produced by master craftsman, Noé (Amiel Cayo), who is passing along the trade to his talented son, Segundo (Junior Béjar Roca). It was the promise of seeing these objects up close that lured me to this film, and in that respect, Retablo delivers. Peruvian retablos are intricate pieces of art that use colorful clay figurines to depict religious, historical, and everyday events.
Familiar struggles threaten to keep two women apart in this charming, queer coming-of-age tale set in Nairobi, Kenya. In the film, Kena (Samantha Mugatsia) is immediately taken with Kiki (Sheila Munyiva) when she spots her hanging out with friends, dancing in the streets. Right away, the two young women share a glance—the first of many as they subtly gauge one another and their own feelings.