SFF 2018: Review – Zama

Zama is a very sedately paced, Heart of Darkness style story in an 18th century Spanish colonial Paraguay setting. A very Film Festival film, each shot is like a painting of luscious colour with the occasional llama walking by or a box moving by itself to change things up a bit. The action is also similar to a painting with lots on long glances and characters thinking about things. Then it’s all upset by shocking acts of violence…

Juxtaposed with footage of struggling fish. Don Diego de Zama is in charge of a remote South American district. He doesn’t particularly want to be there. We learn why. There’s hints at something intriguing going on just under the surface, but some will struggle to maintain focus

Zama, is the silent type and a lot of camera time is spent on him not reacting to things. Then he slowly walks off to not react to something else to perhaps observe someone without their knowledge.  Although looking despondent, he still feels he’s above the locals, but others who are in turn above him keep him from transferring out of the colony.

Directed by Lucrecia Martel in her fourth feature film, Zama is based on a novel by Antonio di Benedetto of the same name and has received much praise from other critics as it looks at colonial prejudice with the eyes fixed on one man. The viewer may struggle to see why this praise was received, but the dedicated may find something rewarding here.

Michael Collins


Zama screens at Sydney Film Festival on Saturday June 9 and Sunday June 17.

Saturday 9th of June, 2018

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