Land of Ashes (Ceniza Negra)
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Selva (Smachleen Gutiérrez) is a 13-year-old girl growing up under the devoted guardianship of her elderly grandfather (Humberto Samuels) on the Caribbean shore of Costa Rica. She has a lively curiosity about the world and the environment she lives in, though her desire for maternal love leads her to summon a presence that is not of that world: a spirit she can confide in. Sofía Quirós Úbeda’s first feature is a remarkable dream of a film addressing mourning and magic. Amidst the lush vegetation and numerous slithering snakes, Gutiérrez is the heart of the film, delivering a luminous performance of intensity and conviction. MH