Friday, November 22, 2019

The Aeronauts: A Fantastic Journey of Discovery and Enlightenment

By José Alberto Hermosillo

Last weekend, Amazon Prime Video invited us for a delightful movie experience. A screening of their new film "The Aeronauts" and a fantastic themed fair.

Welcome to TheAeronauts Incredible Journey. Photos: Jeff Lovin Amazon Prime Video ©2019

The Film is found on the 1862 real-life scientists James Glaisher and Amelia Wren, played by Best Actor Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne and Oscar nominee Felicity Jones.

The Aeronauts' original dress. Photo Jose Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

“The Aeronauts Incredible Journey” fair includes plenty of fun activities to participate in, plus an avalanche of occasions for the perfect snapshot.

The Aeronauts hot air balloon. Photo: Jose Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

The extraordinary exhibits at the fair included a flight to the stratosphere on “The Magnificent Mammoth” Hot Air Balloon as the main attraction.

The Aeronauts phonograph DJ. Photo: Jose Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

The fair had a world-class phonograph DJ, who was playing period music. Attendees danced the polka and Viennese waltzes, visited the Mesmerizing Hypnotist and roasted coffee on the Remarkable Ready Roster.

The Aeronauts - fortune teller. Photo Jose Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

Also, many visited the fabulous fortune teller. Participants had their photo taken with stereoscopic proportions by climbing up into the basket of the “Mammoth” hot air replica to capture a spectacular photo.

The Aeronauts flyer, Amazon Prime Video.Photo Jose Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

The Devil-May-Care Rope-walker is always fun to watch, and many of the people dressed up in costumes from that particular time-period. 
After that, the fun continued. The audience was invited to attend to watch the movie on “The Fly-In Theater” is a hot air balloon with a screen attached to it. 
The organizers prepared two gigantic screens where everybody can enjoy the film to perfection. It all happens in the open air of a lovely autumn evening outside the historic Rose Bowl Stadium of Pasadena.

The Aeronauts Incredible Journey. Photo Jose Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

“The Aeronauts Incredible Journey” was a sensational experience for adventurers, film lovers, and the entire family.

The Aeronauts popped corn. Photo Jose Alberto Hermosillo, Festival in LA ©2019

“The Aeronauts” is an inspiring, captivating and engrossing film. 

The movie is highly recommended for the entire family, mostly for those girls and boys who are avid to discover and explore new horizons.
The Aeronauts banner. Amazon Prime Video ©2019

“The Aeronauts” Movie 

“The Aeronauts” is the true story of two scientists, the meteorologist James Glaisher (Eddie Redmayne) and the pilot Amelia Wren (Felicity Jones), who decided to help each other on a venture to research further in their respective fields.

James will investigate a way to measure accurately the weather report combining the measurement of temperature and humidity. 

Amelia, as a brave female pilot, will try to break the world flight altitude record and become one of the most admired pilots of our time.

The Aeronauts, still. Amazon Prime Video ©2019
The non-linear structure of the film makes us aware of the characters' backgrounds, personalities, emotions, and true desires. The multidimensional story keeps the audience wondering about the scientists' fate up there, on the air, and in the cold. 

“The Aeronauts” is a British period movie directed by a BAFTA nominated helmer, Tom Harper, his credits include “Wild Rose,” “War Book,” and some episodes of the TV series “War and Peace.” 

Watching this epic journey made me think of other epic movies such as “The Titanic” or “The Impossible.” In those films, humans defeat nature to prevail with their mission, whether it is to survive nature’s adversity, eternal love, or discover essential elements that will change the course of humanity forever. 

Film critic Jose Alberto Hermosillo. Photo: Gabriel Romero. Festival in LA ©2019
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Festival in LA ©2019

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Papicha: Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Freedom in Algeria

By José Alberto Hermosillo
Papicha poster
COLCOA REVIEW:  Vibrant and compelling, “Papicha” is a must-see drama with social content. The coming-of-age story is about the courageous young Muslim women claiming their place and time in a world of inequalities.

During the “black decade” of the 1990s, an oppressive system doomed women’s rights in Algeria. The Civil War in the African country brought them back to obscurantism. Director Mounia Meddour decided to move from making documentaries to direct her first feature loosely-based on her personal experiences around those tumultuous 
years in college.
Mounia Meddour director of  Papicha
Mounia Meddour, "Papicha" director at COLCOA.
Photo José Alberto Hermosillo. Festival in LA ©2019

When Meddour was a journalism student, she saw first-hand the uprising in her nation-state. Many wanted to leave - others, the daring ones who had to stay, experienced religious, political, and physical repression by the conservative system in power.

According to the director, during those dark times, men were awful. Also, ultra-conservative women were making religious propaganda in the streets. They were interrupting classes, attacking broad-minded girls by going to their houses and threatening them, violating their intimacy – forcing them to wear hijabs all the time.

In Meddour’s intimate story, the hero is a young woman named Nedjma “Papicha,” played by Lyna Khoudri, winner of the Best Actress Venice Horizons award for the 2017 film “The Blessed.” 
Papicha, Jour 2 Fete ©2019
Lyna Khoudri’s performance in "Papicha" is fiercely virtuous! She plays the extraordinary, determined, young Nedjma Papicha exquisitely.

At that age, female students want to dress up nicely, go out to the clubs, date, and have fun at the disco, like any other woman in the world.
Papicha, Jour 2 Fete ©2019
While waiting for her Canadian Visa to leave the country, Nedjma's dreams cannot be placed on hold. As a serious design student, she won’t give up her fashion show so easily but cannot obtain fine fabrics. She improvises dresses with bargain fabrics to come up with original designs that will wow everyone. The other young women students from various fields of study join her on the runway show as an act of rebellion in their struggle for freedom.

The film does not show the authorities often, but they are a present dark force that moves in the shadows, repressing those who dare to be different.
Papicha, Jour 2 Fete ©2019

The project took five years to make and many script drafts. The female director expressed that “Papicha” was hard to put together. For the authorities, the subject matter of the film is still a sensitive topic. Once she got financing, Meddour was able to show her country’s reality accurately and vividly, thanks to her background as a documentarian.

The opposition against women's liberation in Algeria has never seen so vividly and realistically until “Papicha.”

Meddour started production with mostly non-professional actors in the cast. The most challenging task in the making of the project was to edit the film because, in every take, actors had different dialogs. The director gave the actors plenty of freedom to improvise on the set.

The actresses had plenty of time to rehearse. They lived together in the same house for a week before filming. Their natural performances enlighten the screen, making out of “Papicha,” a delightful movie to watch.

Other contemporary films dramatize the women’s struggle for emancipation in the Middle East, such as this year’s Cannes Grand Prix winner “Atlantics.” Also, “Adam,” a cathartic film about women who want to live free from old biases. Another relevant project about sexual repression in Morocco is “Much Loved,” directed by Nabil Ayouch in 2015. “Mustang,” the French-Turkish Oscar nominee ends up in tragedy over women’s awaking. “Divines,” made in France, shows a young woman of color fighting for a chance to survive in a violent city. 

The Afghan feature “Hava, Maryam, Ayesha” relates three feminist stories about their struggles dealing with chauvinistic men in their culture. Finally, the Canadian production “Antigone,” the story of a young African/Muslim immigrant struggling in Quebec's courts to keep her family together and out of trouble.

In many Muslim countries, men use religion as a form of oppression to submit women for their benefit. Women’s struggle in Algerian society gets a proper acknowledgment through this brave piece. Part of the Un Certain Regard competition at Cannes 2019, “Papicha” was also selected as the Official Algerian submission for Best International Film at the 92nd Academy Awards.

“Papicha” is daring and, at the same time splendid. The film responds to the imperative necessity to have World Cinema serving as a tool in the women’s fight for equal rights.

Papicha director at the DGA
Mounia Meddour, "Papicha" director at COLCOA. 
Photo José Alberto Hermosillo. Festival in LA ©2019
Festival in LA ©2019