Hot Docs 2015: Nuestro Monte Luna (Capsule Review)

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“I hope you fulfill your dream of becoming a bullfighter, but above all I want you to be honourable people” – Nicolas

Can a person remain honourable while participating in a once revered tradition that is now widely detested? This is the central dilemma that punctures the core of Pablo Alvarez-Mesa meditative Nuestro Monte Luna. The film follows a group of teenage boys from the small town of Choachi, Colombia as they train to fulfill their dreams of becoming matadors. Diligently practicing their form and technique under the watchful eye of retired bullfighter Nicholas, their school has become more than a mere training facility. It is a place of bonding, a sanctuary for them to escape the poverty and corruption of their regular lives. However, the walls of the school cannot block the political pressures from those who deem bullfighting to be a barbaric endeavor.

What makes Nuestro Monte Luna so mesmerizing is that Alvarez-Mesa leaves it up to the viewer to decide for themselves how they feel about the art of bullfighting. He does not shy away from incorporating footage from the numerous anti-bullfighting protests, nor does the film get hung up on them either. Alvarez-Mesa’s camera is more intrigued by the daily routines of the boys that are drenched in history and tradition. When documenting the lush pageantry of an actual bullfighting event – the final kill happens off camera – it becomes clear that centuries of tradition are quickly fading away. The heroes of the past are no longer hailed by the masses. Their memories are being kept alive by only a handful of dedicated students. Though bullfighting has provided these young lads with a sense of hope and purpose, Nuestro Monte Luna ponders if there is any hope left for the bullfighting industry itself?

Screens
Wednesday, April 29, 9:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Friday, May 1, 1:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Saturday, May 2, 7:15 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Tickets can be purchased at the Hot Docs website.