Capital Celluloid 2024 — Day 68: Fri Mar 8

The Chambermaid (Aviles, 2018): Genesis Cinema, 8pm

Genesis Cinema introduction:
To mark International Women's Day, we are screening Mexican director Lila Avilés's first feature, The Chambermaid (2018). The screening will be followed by a panel discussion and audience Q&A with Dr Mara Polgovsky and Dr Rachel Randall. Mara is a filmmaker, art historian and cultural theorist with expertise in Latin American art and visual culture. She is a Senior Lecturer at Birkbeck, and her debut feature, Malintzin 17, received the Best Documentary Award at the Morelia Film Festival. Rachel is Reader in Latin American studies at Queen Mary University of London. Her recent research has focused on the depiction of paid domestic and cleaning work in contemporary Latin American films. This event is being supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). It forms part of a double screening at Genesis Cinema for International Women's Day that celebrates the work of Latin American women directors and explores films that focus on reproductive labour.

Chicago Reader review:
Since its first showings during the autumn 2018 festival circuit, this engrossing narrative feature debut by actor-turned-director Lila Avilés has drawn multiple comparisons to Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, but the only similarity is that they’re both about industrious maids in Mexico City. Whereas Cuarón’s luminous movie followed a live-in domestic’s daily routines and complex, supportive relationships with her employers, Avilés’s much grittier work leans more toward the interiority of the lonely, guarded title character. Single mother Eve (Gabriela Cartol) labors unstintingly in a five-star hotel to support her young son, hoping that her meticulous attention to detail and willingness to do any task will get her promoted to the 42nd-floor luxury suites. A nascent friendship with a garrulous, playful coworker harboring a hidden agenda (Teresa Sánchez) and a night class to pursue a GED help pull Eve out of her shell, but the accumulation of myriad indignities, broken promises, poverty, and exhaustion sends Eve into a spiral of discontent and simmering anger. Cinematographer Carlos Rossini, a veteran of nonfiction films, brings a verite, off-the-cuff feel to his images of hotel bustle while also exploiting the possibilities of the stationary camera, as in one intricate geometric composition where the heroine flirts with an ogling window-washer suspended dozens of stories in the air.
Andrea Gronvall

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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