Review: Las Hijas (SXSW 2023)

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Title: Las Hijas (Sister and Sister)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Kattia Zuniga
Starring: Ariana Chaves Gavilán, Cala Rossel Campos, Fernando Bonilla
Runtime: 1 hr 20 mins

What It Is: Two teenage sisters Marina (Chaves Gavilán) and Luna (Rossel Campos) travel from their home in Costa Rica to Panama to meet with their estranged father. Throughout this journey they will also discover things about themselves and each other that perhaps they had no idea about. The growing young woman will begin to figure out who they are and who they will be by finding the man that helped create them.

What We Think: What a lovely, intimate experience we get to have here with director Kattia Zuniga. From speaking with her I learned that this was a very personal story for her based on an adventure she and her sister once went on. Her young actresses do a fantastic job of conveying all of the complex situations Kattia puts them in. It’s such a beautifully shot film. Kattia’s husband Alejo Crisóstomo is the cinematographer here and some of the visual decisions here are absolutely gorgeous. Even the Central American setting looks a way I’ve never seen it before. Panama is, for everything my opinion is worth, a gorgeous country. Never has that been more prominent than here.

Our Grade: B+, A love letter to her native country and an exploration of her youth I think Kattia Zuniga is a talented filmmaker and this is an incredibly good debut brought to us by SXSW. Whatever it is she decides to do next I do hope collaborating with her husband is chief among them. His eye is great and her vision is sound. Do not let the fact that this film is spanish language get in the way. It’s worth your time and at a brisk 80 minutes is an easy, simple watch. One that will most certainly conjure feelings in young women perhaps experiencing similar situations.

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