Leonera (The Lion's Den, 2008) has received more international press than usual for an Argentine film due to being part of the official selection at Cannes. This afternoon Ulrika and I finally got to see it.
For a film set in a woman's prison in Argentina, it was a lot more uplifting that expected. And thankfully held back on the 'drama,' extending the camera lens over four years.
Julia has her son Tomas in the maternity wing of a prison in the north-eastern tropical region of Argentina. It's undeniably grime but there are no stereotypical bullies or baddies, either amongst the mostly female guards, or the inmates. Instead the film portrays the day-by-day adjustments and struggles of the women as they make the best of it. Maté is shared, as is the care of their children. The women cook, shower, do laundry, argue, cry, even laugh a little.
When Julia returns to the wing with Tomas for the first time, both she and her tiny newborn baby are fingerprinted (or, in the case of Tomas, foot-printed). This scene is in the trailer below and was one of the moments that most affected me; the innocence of tiny feet jarring with the institutionalization of mother and child. The endless cycle of documents, fingerprinting and officials also reminded me of my own - thankfully limited - encounters with Argentine bureaucracy.
Amidst the routine, come birthday parties, goodbyes and celebrations. As fireworks scatter light across the dense black sky, the women and their children laugh and cheer as Santa Nöel dances along the barrier wall, dressed in red and sparkling like the fireworks around her.
The official site gives a useful synopsis and details of reviews. And you can see the trailer (without subtitles) here:
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Eleanor Rigby died in the church
and was buried along with her name.
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands
as he walks from the grave.
No one was saved.
John Lennon reportedly once described Eleanor Rigby as a song about 'two queers.' Two lonely people who meet only at the end of life.
I thought about people who keep a face by the door, and pick up the rice scattered at other people's weddings; people who struggle to be heard, and who must be their own companion. I thought about loneliness as I sat in my coat in the church sanctuary last night, listening to members of an small inclusive fellowship describe their struggle to accept and be accepted in their sexual orientation. "Conviction," Marcelo said, "you must have conviction of your value and dignity."
Ai, Dios, that we the church, the body(s) of Christ, have managed to destroy the truth and joy of the lives of others and our own.
Marcella Althaus-Reid (and this would be better if I could find the reference) says something like, all Christians should aim to be queer - willing to distort doctrines and dogmas, and to get lost in the maze of faith. So, I ask, is the church ready to embrace it's queerness? To hear unspoken names, to build arches for queer lovers, and to be home for all the lonely people?
"Two queers," said John, "belong."
For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them. (Matthew 18:20)
Friday, June 13, 2008
El otoño es una segunda primavera
en la que cada hoja es un flor.
Autumn is a second spring
when every leaf's a flower.
Outside the restaurant was a small tree, its trunk metal-grey, and the last leaves sparkling like shards of green glass.