Monday, June 14, 2010

Turistas (no, not that one)

Posted by Mandy

*Recognizing that there is also a recent film of the same title about Natives in Brazil who steal organs from turistas (including an effort at those of the gorgeous Olivia Wilde from House), I'd like to state, right off the bat, this review is not of THAT Turistas, but the OTHER one. Cheers!



Last Wednesday, my mother and I went to see Alicia Scherson’s Turistas at SIFF (Seattle International Film Festival). Like my beautiful mother, the very talented Scherson is of the beautiful urban Santiago de Chile. In all honesty, this was our first SIFF film viewing (ever), so that experience in and of itself was quite interesting (i.e. why was there one woman wo-manning the will call/ticket purchase counter while five stood at the door of the theatre handing out voter forms?).

It is the cultural experience of seeing my first film of the motherland (the land of my mother) that I would like to speak about.

Turistas stars the hilarious and talented (alright, as well as insanely beautiful) Aline K├╝ppenheim (how are these for "common" Latin@ names so far?). Like me, Aline is fair-skinned with brown hair (unlike me, she is very skinny!). I was thrilled throughout watching the film to see so many Latin@s who do not fit the stereotypes so tightly clung to in the United States. Latin@s with all colors of skin, hair, and eyes; speaking in a variety of accents and languages, and holding positions from biochemist to park ranger.


Carla meets a new friend!

Turistas follows the often slow-paced adventures of Carla (Aline K├╝ppenheim) after her husband leaves her at the side of the road in a rural area when she steps out to pee (yes, there is a story there and a reason--whether good or bad, you must decide for yourself). While looking for a bus to take back to Santiago, Carla meets up with a young Norweigan man named Ulrik, who is a bit confused about his sexual orientation. The two end up at the amazingly lovely Siete Tazas (Seven Cups) National Park, where they camp among some strange company, a has-been singer of a park ranger, two eccentric look-a-like cousins, and a number of wild creatures demonstrating the chaos and beauty that is nature.

I was lucky enough to see the film at a showing that the director also attended, and a brief Q and A followed the film. One of the points that Scherson made during this time was the sad reality that the park’s eponymous Siete Tazas were destroyed by the February earthquake. The Siete Tazas are a group of seven waterfalls that have served as the park’s main attraction; since February, they have completely dried up.


Siete Tazas before and after

I wish that I could better articulate this experience and actually offer an unbiased review of the film. Turistas as a whole was undoubtedly witty and eccentric, two excellent qualities, in my opinion. Yet, I could not help but become almost entirely focused on the details, getting hints of the lost motherland, comparing ideas in the film with what I have heard from my family. One of the strongest themes that has stayed with me was the manner in which the main character so easily accepted her companion’s sexual confusion—she did not seem to care whether he was gay, straight, or bi, except as pertained to her own pleasure. I have been told so many times that queerness is equated with child molestation in Chile, yet this director, at least, remained far more open-minded in her analysis.

Certain other things stuck in my mind—avocados on hot dogs, free camping, bright ID cards. The manner in which the director simultaneously demonized the construction site tearing down the park while acknowledging its own mechanical beauty. The recognition that there is some beauty in destruction.

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