Dir. Li Cheng, Guatemala/USA, 2018, 85 mins
Winner of the Queer Lion, Venice Film Festival
Winner of multiple awards, including the Queer Lion from the 75th Annual Venice Film Festival, JOSÉ is a gripping, layered and beautifully honest story about one working-class young man’s struggle to find himself. José (magnetic newcomer Enrique Salanic) lives with his mother (Ana Cecilia Mota) in Guatemala City, where they survive on her selling sandwiches at bus stops and with him working at a local restaurant. Reserved and private, José fills his free moments playing with his phone and random sex with other men arranged on street corners and dating apps.
When he meets attractive and gentle Luis (Manolo Herrera), a migrant from the rural Caribbean coast, they pursue an unexpected relationship with more emotion than José has ever felt. He is thrust into new passion and pain, and self-reflection, that push him to rethink his life even as he is reluctant to take a leap of faith. Made in the neorealist filmmaking tradition, JOSÉ is a nuanced and vivid look at being gay in Central America.
Q&A with director Li Cheng, moderated by NewFest’s Nick McCarthy
An Outsider Pictures Release. Theatrical run starts 1/31/20 at New York City’s Quad Cinema