New Film: Cecilia Aldarondo’s “Landfall”

ITVS describes Cecilia Aldarondo’s documentary Landfall (Spanish, English; 91 minutes):

After the landfall of Hurricane María in 2017, Puerto Rico grapples with a devastated infrastructure and multi-billion dollar debt as outside investors descend—not to bail out communities, but to cash in. Set against the backdrop of protests that toppled the US colony’s governor in 2019, Landfall shares kaleidoscopic glimpses of collective trauma and resistance. Everyday puertorriqueños—subsistence farmers, teachers, activists, and more—meet an incoming wave of cryptocurrency traders, luxury real estate developers, and the politicians leveraging the crisis to recruit their extractive business ventures. In the midst of it all daily life goes on. The next generation of Puerto Ricans find themselves at an inflection point between the dream of a socialist utopia and the reality of recolonization. The new Puerto Rico poses a question of global urgency: when the world falls apart, what does a just recovery look like?

The Hollywood Reporter reviews: Landfall doesn’t always explain everything we’re seeing, with onscreen titles only used to pinpoint specific locations, but it nonetheless builds toward a comprehensive study of Puerto Rico’s troubled state, allowing the sights, sounds and especially the people to speak for themselves. Some exquisitely shot cinematography by Pablo Alvarez-Mesa and sharp editing by Terra Jean Long focus almost exclusively on the present — footage of the hurricane itself is almost never seen — revealing an aftermath of devastation that gradually gives way to hope.

Production company: Blackscrackle Films
Director: Cecilia Aldarondo
Producers: Ines Hofmann Kanna
Executive producers: Charlotte Cook, Laura Poitras, Sally Jo Fifer, Justine Nagan, Chris White, Sandie Viquez Pedlow
Cinematographer: Pablo Alvarez-Mesa
Editor: Terra Jean Long
Composer: Angélica Negrón

Cecilia Aldarondo is a documentary director-producer from the Puerto Rican diaspora who makes films at the intersection of poetics and politics. Her feature documentary MEMORIES OF A PENITENT HEART (Tribeca 2016) had its World Premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival and was broadcast on POV in 2017. She is a 2019 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2017 Women at Sundance Fellow, two-time MacDowell Colony Fellow, and recipient of a 2019 Bogliasco Foundation Residency. In 2019 she was named to DOC NYC’s 40 Under 40 list and is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film for 2015. She teaches at Williams College.

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