At 7 p.m. Tuesday, January 22, hard on the heels of a stunning political satire from Argentina, the Laguna Madre Foreign Film Festival now brings a highly engaging show, this time from Brazil. Riscado, with the English title of Craft, takes a close look at the trials and tribulations of reaching for a brass ring in Brazilian movie making. Starring is young actress Karina Teles as the ambitious but still struggling Bianca. With this film, she and her husband, Director Gustavo Pizzi, snagged one of the brass rings at important festivals in Rio and Houston.
Ironically, the film leaves her still struggling while audience and critics at the showings already have made her a star. At the Rio Festival Teles was named Best Actress.
Their struggles portrayed in the film convey major suspense in the beginning. Between acting gigs, Bianca (Teles) works for an event agency that sends her out to do birthday parties impersonating movie icons like Marilyn Monroe or decked out like Carmen Miranda performing for businesses like a beauty salon. The appearances are almost hallucinations. There is also the Bianca impersonating Marilyn Monroe having to assure the nervous wife of an executive that the actress is not there to seduce her husband.
Bianca subtly makes us aware of issues facing aspiring actors. Is luck part of the craft? Who you know? Paying your dues? Or talent, either you have it or you don’t? The ever hopeful and determined Bianca creates powerful feelings of suspense. Then an audition leads to a rare opportunity and possible success. But her world still seems insecure even for one as gifted as Bianca. Teles’ performance drives a drama of hope and risk in the working world of an artist.
Leading it all is Teles’ as a woman with the determination to make the camera and its audiences love her. She doesn’t look like Monroe, but the transformation comes from within and is moved by a French collaborator offering a lead film role. It brings reflections of a bright future to her eye. When she ends up in the chorus line waving colorful props, it’s not clear if that’s failure, another temporary setback or the next step to stardom. But the film is so convincing that for a time it is like seeing a realistic fairy tale where the princess’ wish can come true. Then the ambiguous finale leaves it to the viewer to judge whether she is destined to the chorus line or she is on her way.
Director Pizzi has left it to you to decide. After the screening, there will be another afterglow in the Padre Island Cinema lobby with light refreshments.
The Film Festival is sponsored by the El Paseo Arts Foundation in partnership with the Port Isabel Library. Coming attractions in the first Laguna Madre Foreign Film Festival include Fat, Bald, Short Man, from Colombia, Carlos Osuna Director, at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5; Gray Matter from Rwanda directed by Kivu Ruhorahoza at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19; and Toll Both from Turkey, directed by Tolga Karacelik at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5.