Anticipating a series of posts on Latino cinema, I borrow the term "The Bronze Screen" from Rosa Linda Fregoso's 1993 study The Bronze Screen: Chicana and Chicano Film Culture. Fregoso, in turn, gleaned the term from her friends Nancy de los Santos and Patricia González during a dinner conversation on the hills of Echo Park in Los Angeles. Nancy de Los Santos went on to co-produce and co-direct a 2003 documentary The Bronze Screen: 100 Years of the Latino Image in American Cinema. My reference to the term, however, expands upon their Mexican/Latino-American focus to embrace the cinema of Spain, Portugal, and the many Latin nations of the Americas. As a Chicano myself, it's only evident that my first true love in World Cinema would be Latin American film.
I first saw Fernando Eimbcke's Duck Season at the 2005 San Francisco International Film Festival and it was, without question, my fave rave. Though it didn't, I wanted it to win the audience favorite award. Researching the film at the time, it was frustrating to discover that it had picked up a distributor in almost every other country in the world except the United States!
Thus it was welcome news when Warner Independent Pictures teamed up with Alfonso Cuaron's Esperanto Films to give the film a stateside opportunity (even though the film was saddled with an "R" rating; R as in ridiculous!) and I'm certainly looking forward to having another chance to view Duck Season at my local Landmark Theatre in the next month or so.
Dave Hudson at the Greencine Daily and Metacritic.com have pretty much provided an adequate compendium of available reviews, each with their own synopsis, so I won't deal with that here. What I want to write about is one scene which I've not seen mentioned elsewhere and which I find revelatory and of utmost poignance. My discussion is not for the spoiler-wary, so please beware.
Eimbcke presents a sweet friendship between two adolescent boys, 14-year-old Flama (Daniel Miranda), and his curly-headed buddy Moko (Diego Cataño). Their friendship is jeopardized by Flama's parents' marital problems and it appears that Flama and his mother will soon be moving away; Moko is thus poised to lose his best friend. In something of a hothouse though nonetheless tender impulse, Moko makes a sexual advance towards Flama, placing his hand on Flama's leg. Flama looks at him in amused detachment, removes Moko's hand, and refuses the advance. However, he states no moral judgment, expresses no revulsion, and suggests, instead, that they swap t-shirts to remember each other by.
I found Flama's tolerance compassionate and creative. On many levels. Primarily because, as Cuaron himself has expressed in an interview with Rebecca Murray, Eimbcke is "generous" in his respect for his youthful characters and in his respect for his audience's intelligence. In an age when the screen is all too often overtly politicized, it's refreshing to have a message of tolerance delivered in such a humane, indirect gesture. Which suggests that friendship, no matter how youthful, is the ultimate fulcrum for exploring and processing the heatedly debated topics of our times. It's a pity that adolescents who would have an opportunity to witness what is the best in themselves are restricted from seeing the movie. And it's a pity that the potential dialogue between generations that this film could afford, has been reduced to a discussion among adults.