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Ema – Pablo Larrain

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #28. Ema – Pablo Larrain

Top 150 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2019: #28. Ema – Pablo Larrain


Chilean director Pablo Larrain returns to Chile for his eighth feature, this time for his first contemporary set drama in his native country with Ema, an adoption issue melodrama which also reunites him for the third time with Gael Garcia Bernal (who starred in 2012’s No and 2016’s Neruda). Bernal is joined by a predominantly female cast which includes Mariana Di Girolamo, Paola Giannini, Santiago Cabrera, Giannina Fruttero, Josefina Fiebelkorn, Paula Hofmann, and Catalina Saavedra (of Sebastian Silva’s The Maid, 2009). The project is produced by the director’s brother, Juan de Dios Larrain (who has producing his films since 2006’s Fuga through their company Fabula) while his usual DP Sergio Armstrong is also on board. Larrain received initial acclaim with the first part of his period trilogy, 2008’s Tony Manero, which premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. Larrain’s 2010 follow-up Post Mortem brought him to competition in Venice, while the final installment, 2012’s No won the Art Cinema Award in the Directors’ Fortnight. Larrain won the Grand Jury Prize in Berlin for 2015’s The Club, then won Toronto’s Platform Prize for 2016’s Jackie, which also competed in Venice. 2016’s Neruda returned Larrain to the Directors’ Fornight.

Gist: Written by Neruda scribe Guillermo Calderon and Alejandro Moreno, Ema concerns a dance choreographer (Bernal) and his school teacher wife (Di Girolamo) who decide to use dance as a way to express themselves through a difficult process experienced while attempting to adopt a child.

Release Date/Prediction: Filming took place in Valparaiso in late Summer and early Fall of 2018. Larrain has established a relationship with Berlin, Cannes, and Venice. If Larrain doesn’t compete for the second time in Berlin, we expect him to take another shot of Cannes, where he might finally be invited to the competition after bowing three times in the Fortnight.


Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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