On the festival and arthouse circuit, Mexico has been represented recently by a string of dark dramas in which the country’s drug wars were frequently the focus. And yet Mexico, along with Argentina, can boast Latin America’s most prolific and diverse cinema industry.
Everything Else (Todo lo demás) has nothing to do with drugs and, at first sight, seems calm and restrained in style. Look more closely - and this of all films at BIFF 2017 places the most demands on the viewer - and violence lies just beneath the surface. Its central character, Doña Flor (an intense, courageous performance by 61-year-old Adriana Barraza, who was Oscar-nominated for Babel) struggles to escape the iron chains of her private and professional life. The latter, indeed, has all-but obliterated the former.
“The greater the bureaucratisation of private life,” wrote Hannah Arendt, “the greater will be the attraction of violence.” Doña Flor has been a bureaucrat for 25 years, inflicting regular humiliation on those who come to her desk, in the process doing violence to her own identity.
Everything Else marks the fiction debut of documentary maker Natalia Almada, and is shot with a formal style that perfectly represents the constraints of bureaucracy. It is a demanding film, but if you are up for a challenge at BIFF 2017, this could be it.