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San Francisco International Film Festival @ BAM/PFA

Wednesday, May 7, 2014
6:30 p.m. Bad Hair
Mariana Rondón (Venezuela/Peru, 2013)

In a Caracas tenement high-rise, Marta (Samantha Castillo) is raising two children alone, their father long gone and her security job recently terminated. Broke and desperate, she finds a focal point for her frustrations: her ten-year-old elder son Junior’s (Samuel Lange Zambrano) curious new determination to straighten his frizzy interracial hair. He wants to look like the people he watches on TV—not actually be a beauty contestant or singer, but simply resemble one. It’s a harmless enough pursuit, one would think. But Marta worries it’s a sign of femininity that underscores her failings as a parent and provider. The resulting conflict between them shouldn’t turn serious—and yet somehow it keeps pressing all the wrong buttons until mother and son may not be able to repair the damage. Without ever spelling anything out, Mariana Rondón’s prizewinning feature addresses potent issues of economic pressure and homophobia within the family unit. She displays a fine understanding of the unspoken tensions that can create a divide—and the occasional words said in anger that can seal it. Bad Hair is a finely acted, deceptively small-scale drama that subtly works its way toward a big impact.

—Dennis Harvey

• Written by Rondón. Photographed by Micaela Cajahuaringa. With Samuel Lange, Samantha Castillo, Nelly Ramos, Beto Benites. (93 mins)

Tickets on sale April 4. Online tickets are available through the SFFS ticketing system. Follow the link below and select "buy tickets." BAM/PFA members receive a discount online by using a special promo code. If you are a member and did not receive the code by email, please call (510) 642-5186.

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