A Lyrical and Gripping Tribute – The Hollywood Reporter

“Life is hard work,” Julián Moreno told her niece, filmmaker Iliana Sosa, as she interviewed him from behind her camera. He was about 90 years old when he said this and there was not a single complaint or regret in his words. However, there are many amusing teases as he wonders about Sosa’s “different way of doing things”, one that has nothing to do with farming or building houses. A man of few words, all carefully chosen, Moreno is at the heart of What we leave behinda poetic meditation on family, mortality, traditions, and the US-Mexico border.

Receiving a theatrical release via Ava DuVernay’s Array ahead of its streaming premiere on Netflix, Sosa’s brief but unhurried tribute to her grandfather, who received two of the band’s special awards judges at SXSW, strike chords that resonate, no matter if you’ve been to rural Mexico, where most documentaries unfold. (And if you’ve traveled through that country and met locals – as opposed to going to a resort – that’s a lovely reminder of a certain real openness.) What we leave behind alive with the bitterness of witnessing someone’s aging in a compressed time frame, a film phenomenon that affects a child or ageless audience.

What we leave behind

Key point

Make first-person movies at its most eloquent.

Release date: Friday, September 30
Manager: Iliana Sosa
Writer: Iliana Sosa, Isidore Bethel

1 hour 11 minutes

Every month for about 20 years, Moreno boarded a bus for the 560-mile bus ride from his home in San Juan del Río, in the northwestern Mexican state of Durango, to visit his daughters and grandchildren, including Sosa. , in El Paso, Texas. He came with candy and other goodies, and would quickly leave after a day or two. As Sosa began her filmography, Moreno was making her final trip and shifting focus to a new project in her hometown. In a Texas living room, she captures her mother, or perhaps one of her aunts, swaddling him like a toddler for the return trip. He insists, though, that his white sombrero takes precedence over the parka hood.

A widow at 45 and a father of seven children – some still living in his hometown, some in the suburbs – Moreno knows the hard work. He showed Sosa his 1964 Foreign Worker Identification Card, from his days as a hired, seasonal contract worker in the US At the age of 89, he began overseeing the construction of a house. cinderblock house on the land next to the cottage he shares with his son Jorge. and a sturdy, brindle dog with a supremely mellow personality named Pinto. The new home, like the cross-border visits he has made over the years, is for Moreno a way of ensuring the strength and stability of family ties.

In an interview at the kitchen table with her uncle Jorge – who has only gradually gone blind, so reassured as he navigates the house and yard – the director gently digs into the matter. her grandmother’s death at the age of 39 and its effect on the family. Perhaps, she suggested, it prompted some siblings to move to Texas. But Jorge did not reach the same conclusion. Sosa and her astute editor Isidore Bethel, who also co-wrote the film with the director, let the silences in, along with a lovingly nurtured sense of a psychological frontier. .

Sosa highlights scenes involving Julián, Jorge, and a few other family members with lyrical interludes that combine her evocative voice-over musings with stills of San Juan del Río – Roosters in silhouette against a bright sky, a once grand house in ruins. The eloquent cinematography, by Sosa, Judy Phu and Monica Wise, is perhaps most sensational in the close-up shots of Moreno’s adorable wrinkled face (recalling similarly contradictory Hollywood notions of beauty. beautiful in A love song). A sequence in which Moreno suggests frying a “beautiful and crispy” egg, and then doing so, is engaging its involvement with simple everyday pleasures. He was also happy to see the flies perched.

As the elderly Moreno grew weak and became small, it was pleasant to recall the previous scene where he visited his wife’s grave with the younger members of his family, and social activity and vibrancy. of the cemetery, with bursts of vibrant colors from fresh garden bouquets and paper flower arrangements. It is possible that with better medical options at the time, things could have turned out differently for the grandmother Sosa never knew – “Some say it was cancer,” Jorge told her – and As for Jorge himself, he was born blind but not completely blind. The interventions of the hospital-industrial complex, however, have little to do with the awe-inspiring scenes of Julian’s final days, scenes that are likely to stay with you for their focus on life. comfort and love. We invite you to sit back for a moment in this traditional world, What we leave behind provides a perspective of a good death as well as a good life. Time will pass quickly enough, and both are important.

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