The Heiresses (2018)


Direction: Marcelo Martinessi
Country: Paraguay

Carrying everything with a flawless performance, first-time actor Ana Brun takes this drama film into another level. The Heiresses marks the directorial debut of Paraguayan writer/director Marcelo Martinessi, whose work received honorable praise in Berlin.

We are introduced to Chela (Brun), a depressed middle-aged woman who is part of the prosperous, elitist circles of Asuncion. However, she lives a delicate situation after losing all her inherited fortune and social status. Whenever possessed by fear, Chela manifests a mix of emotional fragility and bitterness, but at the same time, she can be cold and hostile, putting on airs of superiority when interacting with the new maid, Pati (Nilda Gonzalez).

She lives in the same ample house where she was born, in the company of her longtime girlfriend Chiquita (Margarita Irun), who soon will have to do time on fraud charges. Meanwhile, the couple keeps selling their inherited possessions in order to survive, starting with the silver cutlery and valuable chandeliers. Their wrecked financial situation is entrusted to Carmela (Alicia Guerra), an old friend who now would like to repay them the help she received in the past. As you can imagine, this is all very painful for someone who always lived lavishly.


Surprisingly, Chela transfigures for the better as soon as Chiquita is thrown into jail, gathering all her courage to drive for the first time in many years. She makes use of her old, cherished Mercedes to provide local taxi service to her wealthy neighbor Pituca (María Martins) and her friends. As if that were not enough, she falls for a younger woman, Angy (Ana Ivanova), who makes herself available for new relationships after breaking up with her boyfriend. Would she be open to a romantic relationship with a woman? Chela feels rejuvenated. The fears suddenly evaporated and she even regained the sexual desire lost several years before. One incontestable fact is that her life will never be the same again.

Balancing the low-key tones that involve the story with the ever-present inner tension of the main character, Martinessi aims at Paraguayan society. Moreover, the slow developments suit the story well, which, working under the sign of authenticity, stirs up captive emotions. The Heiresses is an understated yet assured work.


7 Boxes (2012)

7 Boxes (2012)
Directed by: Juan Carlos Maneglia / Tana Schembori
Country: Paraguay

Review: In this Paraguayan film directed by the duo Maneglia & Schembori (their second feature film), we follow the adventures of Victor, a 17 year-old boy who was assigned to deliver seven mysterious boxes with an unknown content. Helped by his friend Liz, he will go on a crazy ride through alleys and strange places of Mercado #4 in Assunción, being chased by several men whose goal is to take hold of the boxes. Painted with vivid brush strokes, and denoting a hasty pace and funny tone, “7 Boxes” is a rousing movie that shows the art of cunning in a claustrophobic ambience, where everybody steals and is stolen. We realize that no one is innocent here; crooks, police, or common people, are all connected in obscure deals involving money, cell phones, or any other goods that might have economical expression. Even with some stereotyped scenes, the film doesn’t rest in pointless situations and never loses its agitated involvement. It was capable of taking a coherent path without losing its focus despite the huge amount of things happening at the same time, like crimes, briberies, chasings, quarrels, romance, and even childbirth. With a finger pointed to social-economical issues, I can say that this is a sort of chaotic mess that works fine, capturing all the heat and colors of a city that never stops.