In the latter days, I saw more and more public screenings, and visited some of the other venues spread out throughout the city. Some of these halls are truly astonishing, rivaling the main palace with their comfort and quality of presentation. For venues alone, Berlin seems to be the best on the circuit in terms of finding multiple locations to showcase the best of the world’s films in rooms worthy of such a prestigious event.
At one of those far-flung-yet-impressive venues, I caught “Hummingbirds,” Silvia Del Carmen Castaños and Estefanía “Beba” Contreras’ joyous indie hybrid. There’s room elsewhere to parse the popular trend of movies that blur the line between non-fiction and scripted, but whether it’s capturing moments in real-time or simply trafficking in verisimilitude, this warm and revealing portrait of two close friends was well received by the local crowd.
The charm of the film lies in its mix of brashness and serious introspection, mixing tone as much as it mixes its stylistic tendencies. The whole thing could collapse at any moment into something insular or even indulgent, yet the charms of these individuals, and the subtle pushes forward of its slight yet linear narrative, make for a truly enjoyable watch. It helps that the protagonists’ affection is authentic yet never cloying, and their ruminations on life in their local Laredo, Texas defies all sorts of stereotypes that litter such coming-of-age fare.
It’s almost what the film doesn’t do that makes it all work, allowing for quiet moments atop a car looking at stars, or reflecting upon the river that serves as a literal border between two very different potential lives, to feel appropriately poetic rather than obnoxious or trite. It’s simply fun to hang out with the two and their circle, warmed by their moments of grace and awkwardness. It’s a film of deep honesty that’s carefully crafted, and despite being dismissed by some American festivals it truly is one of the best films of this ilk I’ve seen. It’s most certainly deserving of attention outside any documentary sidebar.
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