NIDO DE MANTIS – Sydney Latin American Film Festival

Hola Mi Amigos and welcome to the 14th Sydney Latin American Film Festival! From the 4th to the 21st of September the SLAFF will be in full swing. We are stoked to review our first film from SLAFF. NIDO DE MANTIS is the very first Cuban film we have ever reviewed.

The Sydney Latin American Film Festival is proud of its fourteen year history of showcasing films from or about Latin America and promoting the diversity of its communities. This year the festival focuses on migration and the individuals and communities who are impacted by a wide range of social justice issues.

For our first film from SLAFF Kernel Elie has reviewed for us a movie that translates to The Mantis Nest. Distributed by ITACA Films, NIDO DE MANTIS runs for 118 minutes and is rated MA15+. The film will not release theatrically in Australia but will screen at SLAFF on September 7 2019. You can grab your tickets HERE.

Enjoy Elie’s thoughts on Nido De Mantis…….all the best……JK.

BY ELIE ELKORR

NIDO DE MANTIS SYNOPSIS

It’s the summer of 1994 in the small Cuban village of Siboney and 24-year-old Sugar has only ten days to convince the authorities that she is not guilty of the murder of her parents. To prove her innocence, she tells the story of her parents Elena, Emilio and Tomás, enmeshed in a love triangle for more than forty years. 

Since their youth, Elena has been at the centre of the love of two men of very different social classes, and their unconventional love story takes place against the backdrop of the revolution.

Nido de Mantis Movie image

Cuba 1950’s – 1994

Director Arturo Sotto has crafted a gorgeous film signed off with great cinematography and fantastic use of real locations. Sotto uses a black and white palate to time jump us back to the political turmoil eras of Cuban history and the overall impact it has on Cuban citizens. Although politics is not the focal point of Sotto’s drama, it just so happens that the films love triangle falls between these events of Cuban history. I genuinely think that everything in NIDO de MANTIS was all shot in locations across Cuba and it all looks beautiful. It is honestly refreshing to not gaze upon a massive green screen/ CGI extravaganza occasionally, however epic it may be. NIDO de MANTIS is a testament to creating a fantastic natural ambiance that provides both visual and audio satisfaction.

Nido de Mantis Yara Massiel
Yara Massiel

The Characters – One Hell of a Love Story

I think it is time to say that we have found a better love story than TWILIGHT. Like many murder mysteries, the typical suspect/s are thrown into the mix during the first act and when you realise there is around an 1hr 45 min of film left, everything is never what it is at face value. Although the murder is a pivotal aspect of NIDO de MANTIS, the love triangle between Elena, Emilio and Tomas is the pièce de résistance here. NIDO de MANTIS is more than a murder mystery. It is a film that both educates viewers on the history of Cuba whilst showcasing how the pursuit for love is a complex and confronting path that can lead a human being to the brink of insanity.

Caleb Casas and Armando Miguel Gómez are great as Emilio and Tomas. Their infatuation for Elena dates to their time as no more than 12-year-old boys battling out in a cornfield for the girl of their dreams. Sotto subtlety uses both men as a vehicle to also demonstrate the two distinct social classes in Cuba. This was a clever touch to demonstrate the disparate views between the ‘peasants’ and the rich elite of Cuban society.

The standout in NIDO de MANTIS was Elena, played brilliantly by Yara Masiel. This woman does go through some emotional shit and is probably the most indecisive person ever. Masiel displays great range and is able to convey an abundance of emotions ranging from scenes of euphoria to complete anxiety and mental disruption.

Nido de Mantis Yara Massiel and Caleb Casas
Yara Massiel and Caleb Casas

Fictional Fantasy

The love triangle at times can feel a bit farfetched and since Sotto decides to tell his story through flashbacks, where certain characters seem to end up in their lives goes unexplained. With a love triangle that spans over 40 years, an entire Netflix series with a good three seasons could have been made to explain every minute detail of each character’s life decisions – unnecessary.

Claudia Alvarz and Patricio Wood play a lawyer and prosecutor in which the love story unfolds as they gather evidence and information from investigating the murder. Their performances were fine, and I couldn’t help but think they were tools just to get the next flash back scene rolling. At 118 minutes, NIDO de MANTIS has some pacing issues and at times does feel like a drag despite being under 2hrs. The sluggish scenes mostly involve unnecessary exposition which could have easily been spent on fleshing out other aspects of the story – in particular other characters’ motives.

Nido de Mantis Movie image

Adios Amigo

NIDO DE MANTIS offers up a complex and unique murder mystery that mostly strays away from the clichés of the genre. It offers some historical social commentary on Cuba in the process and provides some great emotional scenes despite being a fictional love story that sometimes is a drag. Overall, NIDO DE MANTIS is worth checking out when it debuts at SLAFF this weekend.

YOUR CRITIC:

Elie Elkorr is a proud film critic and writer for Salty Popcorn. He is a movie fanatic and also runs his own Twitter page for movie reviews and news @TweetEReviews1. He likes calling out movies when they provide social commentary rather than focusing on actual story and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about it. His views are his own. He is also a Law and Film student on the side and is the heir to being Black Widow’s Boyfriend. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.