The Shadow of the Sun: The United States hosts the Venezuelan film chosen for the Oscars 2024
The National Association of Film Authors, chaired by filmmaker Ignacio Castillo Cottin (El Inca), chose 'The Shadow of the Sun' as the film to represent Venezuelan cinema at the 2024 Oscars. Following the announcement, which sparked controversy with another film (Simón) vying for selection by raising concerns about irregularities in the voting process, including conflicts of interest allegedly involving a voting member who was an assistant director of the chosen production, it is known that the film will reach American cinemas after its successful run in various international festivals.
'The Shadow of the Sun' is an inspiring film directed by Miguel A. Ferrer.
The story revolves around two brothers with a significant age difference. The younger one has hearing impairment, and the older one is a former singer struggling to survive. Both decide to participate in a singing contest with the intention of overcoming their financial troubles and pursuing their artistic dreams.
Recently, the feature film was showcased at the Monterrey International Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Latin American Film. It had previously premiered at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and received five awards at the Venezuelan Film Festival held in July in Mérida. It won Best First Feature, Best Fiction for the press, Best Leading Actor, Supporting Actor, and Best Sound Design. These recognitions somewhat support the decision of the National Association of Film Authors.
Delving into the story, Leo is a former singer who takes on unpleasant tasks to provide for his family. The film begins with a man trying to fulfill his daily obligations to bring home money and settle the debts weighing him down. His efforts are not very successful, leading to conflicts with his boss and his partner. The situation changes, much to his disbelief and pessimism, when he reunites with his younger brother, the teenager Álex, from whom he had distanced himself after their parents' death. Álex is deaf but aspires to fulfill his dream of becoming a composer, so he convinces Leo to participate in a musical contest.
Taking on the challenge of auditioning forces them to confront their family, their jobs, and to find resources and a way to manage their time to rebuild a group of old friends and rehearse. This process unfolds against the backdrop of life in rural Venezuela, intermediate cities (the two brothers come from Acarigua), the landscapes of the Venezuelan plains, and the daily lives of people facing scarcity.
However, 'The Shadow of the Sun' avoids being political at all costs. It is evident that it seeks to distance itself from denunciation and aims to convey an inspirational message of inclusion, showing how Venezuelans struggle and overcome difficulties, in this case, the lack of opportunities, the barriers faced by a person with hearing impairment, and the prejudices surrounding homosexuality. Miguel Ángel Ferrer, residing in Los Angeles, has precisely stated that with this story, he wants to "show the world the resilience, joy, and creativity of the Venezuelan people, who, despite the difficulties and challenges we face every day, never stop dreaming." The film, proportionately speaking, follows the paths of the memorable French story 'La Famille Bélier.'
Part of the success of the film among the audience lies in its two protagonists. On one hand, Carlos Manuel González, a film, theater, and television actor who plays Leo, a character written with him in mind. He has mentioned to the press that this role has been the most important of his career, and he feels an affinity for Leo as an artist. In an interview with El Estímulo, he commented about his character: "The biggest disability we have is in our minds, and if we surround ourselves with positive people who support and encourage us, anything can be achieved. As an actor, I have also encountered a thousand walls, a thousand closed doors, and repressed desires, things one wants to do and circumstances don't allow, but you have to keep going and enjoy the journey." Álex, on the other hand, is played by Anyelo López, a non-professional actor brought into the project by the FUNDAID Foundation, which works for the assistance, training, and research of disabilities.
Since November 8, 'The Shadow of the Sun' has had a series of public and private screenings in New York, Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, Agoura Hills, and Beverly Hills. The Museum of the Moving Image in New York will host a public screening on Sunday, November 26, at 7 p.m.
The shortlist for the Oscars in eight categories (including Best International Feature Film) will be announced on December 21. The nominees will be revealed on January 23, and the 96th awards ceremony will take place on March 10, 2024.
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