Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2020 1:41 pm 
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CAMILA URRUTIA: GUNPOWDER HEART (2019)

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ANDREA HENRY, VANESSA HERNANDEZ IN GUNPOWDER HEART

Violent lesbian girls in Guatemala.

This is an unexpected new genre. The two girls, Maria (Vanessa Hernández) and Claudia (Andrea Henry), are young. One is blond, the other dark. Both have tattoos and are femme, but like butch things like bikes. Twenty minutes into this short film they are attacked by three men, who terrorize them, make them strip, get lined up perhaps to rape them, but then are scared off by the guards of the park where this happens because it's closing time. The girls debate what to do for revenge. What they do is chaotic, and leads to disaster.

This is very rough. The two girls aren't very well delineated, and their relationship isn't very well defined either. Some scenes toward the end especially seem very chaotic. But it has excitement and a sense of danger. For some reason it reminded me of a favorite film of mine, Manuel Pradal's 1997 Marie Baie des Anges. Pradal's film is better made and far more beautiful, but both films have in common that sense of love leading to destruction.

The chaos may reflect a kind of pathetic fallacy - the art work mimicking the undesirable quality it seems to depict. But as a rough note from the front, from a demographic that is, like transgender people, by its nature in danger from racist, violent, illiberal elements of society particularly in a violent and poor Latin American country, this has validity as a vivid message from the front. The young filmmaker Camila Urrutia, who addresses the audience in a very short video before the movie starts as do all the directors in the SXSW virtual theater offerings, would and does define herself and these two young women as "queer." "Lesbian" is a retro term, apolitical and conservative and perhaps hostile terminology. As of course "queer" was originally. This film will do well at LGBT events and could become a cult film for its niche.

Gunpowder Heart/Pólvora en el corazón, 88 mins., debuted Nov. 19, 2019 at Huelva Iberoamerican Film Festival. It was to be in the cancelled April SXSW Festival and was screened on Amazon Prime for this review as part of the virtual theater presentation Apr. 27-May 6, 2020 of a selection of SXSW films.

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