Selva (13) lives in a coastal town in the Caribbean. After the sudden disappearance of her only motherly figure, she is left to take care of her grandfather who doesn't want to live. ...
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Selva (13) lives in a coastal town in the Caribbean. After the sudden disappearance of her only motherly figure, she is left to take care of her grandfather who doesn't want to live. Between shadows and wild games, she must decide if she will help her grandfather die, even though that means going through her last moments of childhood alone.Written by
Official submission of Costa Rica for the 'Best International Feature Film' category of the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021. See more »
"Dying is like sleeping,a deep sleep-you fall asleep forever,and never wake up."
After viewing the interesting Sanctorum (2019-also reviewed),I decided to check what other titles were on the 2021 WOW Film Festival line-up. Finding that there were only a handful of tickets left for this screening/stream,I got set to enter the land of ashes.
Note:Some plot details in review.
View on the film:
Becoming the first movie from Costa Rica to be shown at Cannes, debut writer/ director Sofia Quiros & cinematographer Francisca Saez Agurto explore the land of ashes with magnetic surrealist stylisation of refined wide-shots across 13 year old Selva and her grandparents holiday home, housed in panning shots between the living and the dead.
Slithering snakes onto the screen from the opening shot as a recurring motif/ symbol for eternal cyclic renewal or a cycle of life, death, and rebirth, (in this case,via shedding its own skin) Quiros marks the disappearance of Selva's grandmother, with an increase slide into Magical Realism,via excellent panning shots across the wall on the shadow of Selva talking to the shadow spirit/ghost of her grandmother.
With the rather dream-logic, abstract sparse dialogue screenplay by Quiros exploring Selva's relationship with death, Smashleen Gutierrez gives a mesmerising turn as Selva,whose sometimes abrasive exchanges with her grandparents,is shredded by Gutierrez with a growing spiritual maturity in the land of the ashes.
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