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Lucretia Martel

Zama, an officer of the Spanish Crown born in South America, waits for a letter from the King granting him a transfer from the town in which he is stagnating, to a better place. His situation is delicate. He must ensure that nothing overshadows his transfer. He is forced to accept submissively every task entrusted to him by successive Governors who come and go as he stays behind. The years go by and the letter from the King never arrives. When Zama notices everything is lost, he joins a party of soldiers that go after a dangerous bandit.

“Martel has fashioned Zama into a fearless, piercing piece of work. The movie plays out like a dreamlike stream of indelicate curiosities. . . . Martel’s sensibility is as oblique as it is sensitive, confounding as it is grimly humorous. It’s a movie that seems constantly to be spilling the secrets of this world, but without fanfare—there’s an unsettling banality to it all.” K Austin Collins, Vanity Fair

“a beguiling cinematic journey through identity formation in Latin America, where the legacy of colonialism and its discontents runs deep.” Maria Delgado, Sight & Sound

“The film becomes like Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God or like [Alex Garland’s] Annihilation, as Zama and his men enter a landscape where they are disoriented and unwanted. Martel films it in jewel-like greens, in long shots that retain an essential mystery and alien beauty.” A.S. Hamrah, n+1

“Lucrecia Martel’s adaptation of fellow Argentinean Antonio di Benedetto’s 1956 novel is one of those rare cinematic objects that seems to exist in only glancing relation to the world of movies that surrounds it. Nearly every composition surprises with asymmetries and odd placements of figures.” Jeff Reichert, Reverse Shot

“These kinds of juxtapositions . . . function much like the doubled voice in the novel. Nothing if not dialectical, “Zama” is filled with such meaningful oppositions: freedom and captivity; open, bright skies and closed, gloomy homes. Ms. Martel’s cool approach fits di Benedetto’s story and can be just as devastating, especially when she abruptly flips drama into comedy.” Manohla Dargis, New York Times

“In the history of film adaptation, Zama is an exceptional case. . . . Martel’s Zama offers a passionately informed and intuitive reading that is at once a reply and a carrying forward, a fusion that brings Di Benedetto’s novel into entirely new territory.” Esther Allen, New York Review of Books

“With her purposely disorienting mise en scène, Martel plunges us into this Beckettian limbo, a surreal satire of miscommunication between the putative ruling class and the natives.” Molly Haskel, Film Comment


  • 9/14 | 9:00PM
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