Celestial Clockwork (Mecaniques Celestes)

Institute History

  • 1996 Sundance Film Festival


Fanciful footwork turns the Cinderella story into an immigrant fairy tale as Venezuelan-born director Fina Torres applies her cinematic vision to her adopted city of Paris. In the Torres version, a young girl can still find happiness in all the wrong places, if she relies on the kindness of strangers.

Ana is a wanna-be opera star who leaves her life in Caracas to seek fame in Paris. She follows her muse! Unfortunately, she quickly encounters the evil stepsister to end them all, Celeste, a diabolic video artist who dedicates herself to blocking Ana’s progress and seizing any available fame. Knowingly narcissistic music videos with the evil Celeste become a hilarious counterpoint to the sweet Umbrellas of Cherbourg visions dreamed up by the innocent Ana. Luckily, Ana’s friends come to the rescue: a gay waiter, a soon-to-be-lesbian psychiatrist, and a Caribbean santero, whose potions supply key plot points when all else fails.

Fina Torres came to international attention when her debut feature, Oriana, won the Camera d’Or at Cannes. Here she shifts gears to create a sunny, quintessentially French, midsummer-night’s dream of a film in which amour and disillusion change places as the plot veers from romantic comedy to slapstick, singing all the while.

— B. Ruby Rich

Screening Details

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