My first film of NYFF58 was Nicolas Pereda's film Fauna, which premiered in Toronto just before playing at NYFF. This is my first Pereda film, though he has been an active narrative and documentary filmmaker for the past 10-15 years.
The best way for me to describe Fauna is that it's a meta-comedy. The film starts with a woman and her actor boyfriend (seemingly at least) converging with the woman's brother in a small Mexican town to visit their mother and father. The narrative is low key as they wait for their parents to arrive home and the actor goes and tries to buy cigarettes. That night at dinner, the father complains the meal is no good, so they all go out to eat, and then later the father, brother, and actor all go to a local bar. It's at this point that the meta starts to come into the picture. The father insists that the actor act out a scene from the TV show he is on (Narcos), despite the actor insisting it would be pointless as he has no dialogue in any of the episodes. The resulting scene is the highlight of the movie. The next day, the sister comes across the brother reading a book and asks what it is about. The rest of the movie is the narrative of the book as told by the brother, with the actor and family members playing parts, all wearing very bad wigs. The book narrative revolves around a man staying at a hotel trying to arrange a meeting with a person who seems to be a cartel member or leader.
The film is shot in a typical indie/art film style: long take shots and scenes often in medium or two shots with little attempt at aesthetic interest. Colors tend toward the drab and the acting style is fairly deadpan. At its best Fauna is funny, with the highlight being the scene at the bar (after failing to impress the dad and brother, the actor is asked to improvise a scene with dialogue, which he does to great effect, only to find them asking him to do it again). However, the meta-aspects of the film don't seem especially insightful to the nature of storytelling or film going. The concept of characters from a movie acting out scenes from another source (novel, movie, etc.) inside the movie doesn't seem overly original. The story within a story does revolve around interesting genre and societal issues regarding cartels, gangsters, and the tropes that potentially go with them in a way that might resonate with audience members familiar with them (especially, I presume in Mexico).