We’re only six months away from the 89th Academy Awards and Oscar fever is ramping up! Yeah, not really. But we are pleased to announce that some cinematic overachievers have already begun turning in their submissions for Best Foreign Language Film consideration. Among the handful of countries who got an early start, Venezuela is already turning some heads with their selection of Desde Allá (From Afar), the debut feature from director Lorenzo Vigas that picked up the top prize at last year’s Venice Film Fest.
The plot follows a well-off older man who solicits a young boy from a rough neighborhood. Along the way, an unexpected intimacy emerges, and the older man quickly becomes obsessed with the object of his affection. Set against the backdrop of the streets of the Venezuelan capital and not shying away from exploring the power dynamics between the two men, From Afar asks viewers to engage in discussions of masculinity, sexuality, and what it means to open up to those we crave.
The screenplay was written by Guillermo Arriaga, the estranged collaborator of Alejandro González Iñárritu who penned Amores Perros and Babel before setting forth on his own ill-fated career as a director. It’s not hard to see why Arriaga, who is also a producer, felt connected so well with Vigas’ vision. Just from the trailer we get a sense of the film’s impeccable cinematography, powerful but understated performances, and get more than a few whiffs of Amores Perros in its gritty urban-realist style.
To boot, the film’s producer and executive producer credits read like a who’s who of Latin American cinema, with cultural titans like Gabriel Ripstein, Michel Franco, and actor Édgar Ramírez throwing their weight behind the debut feature. From Afar follows up on several years of very strong submissions from the Bolivarian Republic, but with the film’s impressive CV, this might be the year that Venezuela finally breaks through to the coveted shortlist.