The film opens in a mystical forest, all rich greens and dark browns. If the red and white toadstool mushrooms didn’t signal we’re deep inside a fable, the trancelike cinematography by Inti Briones and the melancholic song of the fish, birds and cows as they head towards death firmly places us there. “Come closer to us,” they chant, “is the end nigh?” they ask.
Emerging from this catastrophe is resurrected matriarch Magdalena (an ethereal, wordless Mia Maestro), whose return from the dead upends her already teetering family. Daughter Cecelia (Leonor Varela) returns to the family dairy ranch to care for her father after a vision of his dead wife causes an episode. In tow are her two children, the eldest of which, Tomás (a tender Enzo Ferrada) feels a kinship for their long-lost grandmother who also didn’t quite fit in this patriarchal world.
Alegría deftly weaves the connection between this family’s broken past and their possible hope for the future, with the reverberations of the ecological disaster at its start. Families are as fragile as any ecosystem, and must be tended with love, empathy and care, not run coldly like a business. “The Cow Who Sang A Song Into The Future” reminds us we should go through life always thinking about how our choices will affect others, including the birds, the bees, and the fish in the seas.
Co-written with Ana Isabel Fernández and Ilana Coleman, director Juan Pablo González’s ode to his homeland of Mexico’s Jalisco Highlands aims to subvert expectations about the region. Inspired by women business owners who have thrived there in recent years, “Dos Estaciones” centers on artisanal tequilera Maria Garcia (a towering Teresa Sánchez) as she fights to keep her family tequila business afloat amidst a plague damaging the agave crops and threats of a buyout from a greedy U.S. company.
The region’s seemingly endless light is beautifully photographed by cinematographer Gerardo Guerra, who captures the inside of Maria’s tequila plant as elegantly as he does the vast agave fields. We’re introduced to Maria with a long tracking shot, her broad shoulders filling the whole frame. She is a titan of industry here, not just supplying jobs in her factory, but supporting other businesses like her hairdresser Tatín (Tatín Vera, a non-professional actor playing a variation of themself).
Like Maria, Tatín is an artist and theirs is a relationship of mutual respect. However the balance of power shifts when Tatín declares they plan to expand their shop without Maria’s help. Sánchez plays this moment quietly, her eyes showing both hurt for not being needed further and also pride for Tatín’s success.