Tuesday, October 03, 2017
NY FILM FESTIVAL: Zama
We are in Spanish territory, a remote river town, in what is now Argentina or perhaps Paraguay, a wilderness tamed by the white man who has subjugated the native indigenous population. Although the Spaniards continue to dress in the European fashion, “barbarism” has slowly crept in. Zama’s powdered wig has not been powdered in years, and the tropical weather has added to the wear and tear — perhaps the first sign of the crumbling empire which will lose its colonies in the next century.
But despite the carefully recreated period, this is a film in search of an interior monologue. We are inside Zama’s mind, a later Don Lope de Aguirre, who unlike Werner Herzog’s character, is less the wrath of god and more a psychologically wounded anti-hero in search of redemption. Ultimately, his seemingly tragic end at the hands of a Portuguese bandit, is the event that sets him free.
At the start of tonight's showing, at the New York Film Festival, it was announced that the film had acquired distribution. This is great news, because every film in the festival should be seen not just by those who are able to attend the festival. Also at the Q&A after the film, director Martel announced that Argentina has chosen this film as an Oscar contender for Best Foreign film. With such people as Danny Glover, Pedro Almodóvar and Gael García Bernal, among other notables, as producers, they have a very good chance of being selected. I hope they get it.