Lovely little black and white film from Uruguay about the programmer of a cinematheque struggling to stay afloat.
This is the tale of a cinema, and the thankless struggle to keep arthouse film alive in Uruguay. Made in a real Montevideo cinematheque with the staff playing their own roles, it’s not a documentary but the first half could quite easily be. Our focus is on hang-dog programmer Jorge (Jellinek), who goes about his daily business typing up programme notes, testing out the seats, and hosting Q&As with a sense of impending doom in the background.
Midway through the film changes gear in a wonderfully unexpected way, and becomes a hymn to life as well as to film. Shot in luminous black and white, A Useful Life has pleasures aplenty for cinephiles but its vision of a man suddenly cut loose from his life’s work also has a much wider resonance.
Dir: Federico Veiroj