Synopsis: Hamaca Paraguaya, Paz Encina's debut feature, is a subtle and moving cinematic experience. The film is a perfect embodiment of the aspirations of the New Crowned Hope series, which aims to foster innovative projects resonating with Mozart's most important thematic concerns. As it evokes the main motifs of the great composer's later works, Hamaca Paraguaya is in many ways a modern-day requiem.
This is an intense and astonishingly unconventional film; its non-linear narrative unfolds through extremely long takes and mesmerizing scenes. The majority takes place on a hammock in the Paraguayan countryside, where a mature couple (Ramón del Río and Georgina Genes) sits together talking, drinking tetere and waiting for their beloved son to return from the ruinous Chaco War with Bolivia. Shot with a stationary camera, the scene perfectly captures the couple's intimate rapport. The viewer becomes increasingly involved in the film, mesmerized by the pair's chemistry, progressively identifying with and understanding their pain.
The film's original and highly effective use of voice-over further bonds us to its characters. As we gradually immerse ourselves in the narrative and listen to their conversation full of mundane daily observations, we realize that these dialogues have taken place many times before. When the man and the woman part to tend to their daily chores, we hear in voice-over the last conversation each had with their son. Through this most oblique manner, we discover just how devastating a void has been left by his departure.
Encina not only laments the couple's loss, but the loss of all the people of Paraguay, a nation in a constant state of waiting, forever hoping for a better future. Ruled by a succession of dictators, this land-locked nation remains one of Latin America's poorest. Encina's requiem for her homeland and her people is so beautifully accomplished that it goes beyond being a great achievement for Paraguayan filmmaking, to being a new landmark in cinema as a whole. -- © Toronto Film Festival
Directed by: Paz Encina