You’re Killing Me Susana tells the story of Eligio, a man who wakes up one day to find out that his wife Susana has left him without warning. What follows is Eligio’s earnest quest to win his wife back by following her into the United States where he must navigate cross-cultural differences and come to terms with his own chauvinistic masculinity. While Eligio is certainly presented as a caricature of macho insufferability, his wife Susana is not much better – both are equally self-obsessed to the point of interpersonal destruction.
Eight directors band together to make this omnibus feature Tales of Mexico – a portfolio of Mexican history and its inevitable repetition. Spanning from before the Mexican Revolution to the present day, it depicts key historical events through its portrayal of various families who lived in one particular house over many decades. A diversity of people/residents of the house appear in each of the eight episodic bites encapsulating violence, classism, persecution and nostalgia as a set of shifting paradigms. The hopes, dreams and ideals of these various tenants give birth to a filmic metaphor for Mexico’s transformation. It all comes fully contained and fully expressed within a singular, domestic space.
Partially inspired true events, Woodpeckers is an impossible, intriguing and energetic love story centred on two inmates who communicate with sign language between their respective male and female prisons. Julián is a petty thief who finds himself in the overcrowded Najayo men’s prison after being caught stealing a motorcycle. As he adjusts to his new surroundings, he learns to manipulate the prison system to his own advantage. Against the odds, Julián enters into an unlikely romance with Yanelly, who is herself confined to the Najayo women’s prison next door. In order to communicate, they must learn an elaborate form of sign language, known as woodpecking, right under the noses of the prison guards.
Two elderly spouses, Candelaria and Victor Hugo, live out their days during a period of strict trade embargo in the ‘90s, and have reached the point where they share the bed only for sleeping. She works tirelessly in a hotel laundry, cleaning blankets that are sent through ducts, and the couple’s only passion is a quintuplet of chickens they keep in the house and fawn over as though they were their own children.
Things continue smoothly enough, until the discovery of an illegally smuggled camera turns their lives upside-down. When Victor begins to film his wife, it turns into a sexual game that unwittingly reignites his passion for her. Excited by this revelation, they slowly shift their marriage into the fictional space of the camera lens, blurring the line between what is real and what is make-believe to tell a story rarely told.
Violence is ever-present in the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil, a product of the anger of those with no voice. Emilio was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and recently inherited a plot of land inhabited by a community of families. In order to force their eviction, he hires an agent to help – the same double-crosser who has been collecting money from the squatters in order to supposedly improve their living standards.
The squatters are not willing to let go of the land – which is all they possess in this world – without putting up a fight. Their leader is willing to negotiate but talks are guaranteed to be tense on either side. Meanwhile, Emilio is caught up in his own dramas over a stray bullet that accidentally killed a person. What results is a disconcerting depiction of what can result from fiscal inequality.