Ah South America, our multicultural neighbor downstairs. Home of the Amazon rainforest, Machu Picchu, the Andean peaks, and countless vibrant and lively cities — the stunning beaches of Rio de Janeiro! Nightlife and street food in Buenos Aires! If you’ve ever wanted to travel to this vast and diverse continent, now you can. Consider Topic your tour guide to South America, with stops in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia. You’ll get to experience the rich cultures of these countries by seeing how everyday people live and getting to know their stories (this offer is not available with any other travel tour). And the best part about our excursion? You won’t even have to leave your couch. Come see beautiful South America with these six films on Topic.
This is unlike any film you’ve ever seen. Director Eduardo Williams defies every rule in cinema to give us a one-of-a-kind moviegoing experience. Almost every element is unconventional, from the narrative structure to the dialogue to even the lighting. “The Human Surge” is an adventure in getting lost, which is a clever way to tell a story about a group of characters lost in the monotony of life. Williams explained, “I feel this thing of being lost and going to the unknown is very useful to...discover other things in life.”
“The Paranoids” is an offbeat, but realistic portrayal of life in Buenos Aires from the perspective of a 30-something man. Luciano is a struggling screenwriter whose luck might change when his friend Manuel returns from Spain with his beautiful girlfriend, Sofia. The movie offers totally relatable themes like career stress, crushes, and frenemies, but you also get an intimate look at what it’s like to live, go out, and slack off in Buenos Aires.
Sort of like an uber-realistic “Never Ending Story,” “Araby” follows an 18-year-old boy who finds a factory worker’s notebook, which transports the movie into his life story. Viewers are taken on a journey through his past travels and loves and ultimately witness a social awakening that sparked political action. “Araby” is a poignant depiction of working-class life in Brazil, revealing the story of one man’s seemingly modest life, but treating it like something precious in the way it’s told.
This is a refreshingly original take on parenting and class divides. Val is a hard-working live-in housekeeper in Sao Paulo who is content with tending to her wealthy employers, but when her estranged daughter, Jessica, comes to visit, she completely disrupts the established dynamics. Jessica challenges the class-defined roles and decorum that her mother is so used to, which, for Val, is not exactly a welcome new perspective. Seeing where Val’s loyalties lie raises the question: what’s more powerful — your family or your station?
“The Maid” follows Raquel, who has spent 23 years working in a wealthy household and has practically become part of the family, but when her employers hire more help, Raquel goes off the deep end. The once-stable glue of the household starts showing signs of serious instability as she sends a clear message to her new colleagues: there’s only enough room for one maid in this house. Seeing how ferociously Raquel fights to hold onto her position reflects the universal clawing struggle that is financial stability, a theme we recently saw in Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite.”
“Embrace of the Serpent” has a clear message, and it’s not afraid to spell it out: let’s not let the natural wonder that is the Amazon succumb to white colonialism. Shot beautifully in black and white, the film takes you right into the heart of the jungle. Though the story is centered around the friendship between an Amazonian shaman and two foreign scientists, it’s the breathtaking imagery of the Amazon rainforest and river that will stay with you — you will practically smell the wet leaves and feel the thick humid air. And you will definitely want to save the Amazon from colonial rule.