The Coral Gables Art Cinema will host the U.S. premiere for the Venezuelan film The Longest Distance (La Distancia Mas Larga) this Friday with a red carpet event featuring the film’s director. The debut feature by 37-year-old writer and director Claudia Pinto Emperador presents a profoundly heavy subject with a restrained, low-key style. Working from her own script, Emperador uses a light touch and a large cast to look into the abyss of death and how it informs the vibrancy of life.
As heavy as it might sound, The Longest Distance is a straight-forward film with tender performances throughout. The film follows young Lucas (a sensitive Omar Moya), who runs away from home after the sudden and violent death of his mother in Caracas. Lucas begins the search for his maternal grandmother Martina (Carme Elias). After discovering correspondence between his grandmother and mother, Lucas figures out he might find her at a country home not far from the foot of the beautiful, tabletop mountains of the Pakaraima. The rash decision finds him in the care of a young man with a troubled past (a tortured Alec Whaite).
The landscapes are vividly shot and without any stylization or flourish. Emperador is a fan of sweeping camera gestures, from intimate settings in dark rooms, to the breathtaking vistas of the jungle, rivers and the ultimate in the Pakaraima: the cloud-shrouded Mount Roraima. It's beautiful work that demands the big screen experience. The beauty of the landscape belies the film's narrative: a profound sense of loss coupled with the pain of reconciliation.
Evil ciphers aside, the film is largely populated with good, understanding people, which might seem to flatten any sense of conflict. But Emperador offers meaningful character development. Human baggage and experiences are so deftly drawn, characters are understood through their flaws; their experiences informs their points of view on life and death.
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Emperador also shows great understanding of ambiguity's place in
The grim specter of death haunts everyone in The Longest Distance. Like the unstoppable nature around them, from the flow of water that Lucas enjoys diving into, to the still pools of water on the mountain top of Roraima that calls Martina, there’s a profound sense that death is also part of life that all must confront.
The Longest Distance opens exclusively at the Coral Gables Art Cinema this Friday, October 2. On opening night, writer/director Claudia Pinto Emperador will present for a red carpet event with a catered reception from 7 to 8 p.m. The director will introduce and be present for a Q&A at both the 5 and 8 p.m. screenings. The film plays through October 8. For more information, visit gablescinema.com.
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