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Second Latin America FilmFest

H.E. Arnoldo Brenes Castro during the presentation of Costa Rica's film Clara Sola.

Clara Sola / Costa Rica

The Second Latin American FilmFest at Filmhuis Lumen in Delft closed its season on Sunday, June 16, with an impressive Costa Rican masterpiece presented by the Ambassador of Costa Rica, H.E. Arnoldo Brenes Castro. Clara Sola, a mystic drama marking the debut of director Nathalie Álvarez Mesén, stars the dancer and first-time film actress Wendy Chinchilla Araya as Clara, alongside Daniel Castañeda Rincón, Ana Julia Porras Espinoza, and Flor María Vargas Chávez. The film narrates an unconventional story of religious fanaticism, social repression, abuse, and ignorance, all set in a small, humble house nestled in the lush green jungle of Costa Rica.

The profound themes of mystical connection with nature, religious interpretation of life, intellectual disability, late sexual awakening, human rights, and basic personal freedom are explored with subtlety, without diminishing their disturbing impact. Clara’s life, deeply intertwined with her mother’s religious fervor, is marked by severe overprotection and exploitation, depriving her of freedom, self-esteem, self-determination, joy, or pleasure. Living a restricted life under her mother’s tutelage, Clara is bound by moral and physical barriers, unable to experience happiness. The deep green Costa Rican jungle is vividly portrayed throughout the film, with masterful cinematography creating a peaceful suspense and capturing the beauty of the magnificent scenery, while the plot evolves slowly and mysteriously.

The purple ribbons hanging in a circle around Clara’s house symbolize her limits and prompt viewers to reflect on their own constraints, contemplating whether the day will come when these barriers will be removed. Clara Sola mirrors the calm and profound soul of Costa Rican nature.

Clara Sola / Costa Rica. Picture courtesy of Habob

The 2021 drama was selected as Costa Rica’s entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 94th Academy Awards. The film won the Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Cinematography awards at Sweden’s Guldbagge Awards. At the International Film Festival of Kerala in India, it won Best Film, and it also received the Georges Delerue Award for Best Soundtrack/Sound Design at Film Fest Gent in 2021.

Costa Rica has presented its film industry in the Netherlands with a heavyweight masterpiece that will leave its viewers in a mystical state for days.

The Embassy of Costa Rica played a vital coordinating role on behalf of the Group of Embassies of Latin America and the Caribbean and the local organizers in Delft. The second edition of the FilmFest featured five Latin American movies in October 2023 from Bolivia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, and Uruguay, and showcased eight more films in June 2024 from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico, and Peru.

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