Monica Castillo at NYFF, 2


Another dispatch from our correspondent Monica Castillo covering the New York Film Festival. Her take on four more provocative films:

"Our Children" explores an interesting concept -- if you can stomach it. Boy meets girl, gets married, moves in with the groom's dad, and makes many adorable children. Sadly, after a claustrophobic life without any help, Murielle (Émilie Dequenne) finds a way out by murdering her kids (not a spoiler, you see their coffins in the first few minutes). The director Joachim Lafosse explained that he wanted to explore what would drive an otherwise loving mother to do such a thing. He studied up on  untreated postpartum depression and turned it into a tension-filled movie about a woman on the edge. When the deed happens, even though it's no surprise, it is still shocking. Mercifully, the film  doesn't show any dead children.

Not sensational enough? Next comes the hotly anticipated "The Paperboy" from Lee Daniels.


The response among my fellow seatmates was divided, but during the q & a Daniels was patient enough to explain several of the most difficult parts of the movie, which involves a boy falling in love with an older woman who's engaged to a convict she's never met while a murder mystery is being investigated by a pair of journalists from the big city. This convoluted melodrama takes place  in  a swampy, 1960s south Florida in the midst of growing racial tension. I felt as if it tried too hard to be too many things: exploitative but serious, realistic but over-the-top. And to think that Daniels originally set off to make a biopic of Martin Luther King, Jr., and ended up taking the reins of "The Paperboy" from Pedro Almodovar.

For  different kind of romantic, and real life melodrama I  watched a cheeky  Italian documentary from Francesco Patierno that clocked in under an hour. "The War of the Volcanoes" follows the love triangle between director Roberto Rossellini, his longtime lover and diva Anna Magnani, and actress Ingrid Bergman.


Yes, that Bergman, of "Casablanca" fame. Once Bergman and Rossellini embark on a project on one of the volcanic Aeolian islands, the jealous Magnani sets up her own production on a neighboring island with a story that's strangely familiar. It's a lover's spat of cinematic proportions, complete with behind the scenes footage, old-school paparazzi pictures, and tongue-in-cheek narration.

To finish off the night, I caught the "Punk in Africa" documentary from director Keith Jones as part of the NYFF's spotlight on the arts.


Well-structured and informative, while playfully anarchic, the documentary retraces the birth of an anti-establishment and anti-apartheid movement in the grimy clubs of South Africa. Survivors recount the glory days of getting raided by the cops and the reasons why they joined the movement. The documentary also followed through to the present day, to African punk, reggae, and ska bands who are still preaching the anti-establishment, anti-war, and anti-racist message from before. For the most part, the film rarely leaves South Africa and does not include a single female musician as a commentator, despite mentioning a couple of all-female or female-fronted groups. Perhaps this was for time constraints but I would have loved to have found out about a Riot Grrrl response out in South Africa. 

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