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Jose (film)

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JOSE (2018).jpg
Directed byLi Cheng
Produced by
  • George F Roberson
  • Li Cheng
Written by
  • George F Roberson
  • Li Cheng
  • Enrique Salanic
  • Manolo Herrera
  • Ana Cecilia Mota
Music byYao Chen
CinematographyPaolo Giron
Edited byLenz Claure
Release date
  • 6 September 2018 (2018-09-06) (Venice film festival)
Running time
85 minutes[1]
  • Guatemala
  • USA

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Jose (Spanish: José) is a 2018 Guatemala feature-film social-drama by Li Cheng. It world premiered at the 75th Venice Film Festival in the Giornate degli Autori section (also known as “GdA” and “Venice Days”) on the 6th of September 2018.[1][2]. It is the first Guatemala and Central America film ever presented in Venice Film Festival.

Jose was awarded the Queer Lion on the 7th of September 2018.[3] Other films competing included the Grand Jury Prize winner (and is expected to factor in the Oscars), The Favourite (2018), by Yorgos Lanthimos, and Orson Welles’s final work (unfinished at his death and screened at 75th Venice Film Festival for the first time), The Other Side Of The Wind (2018), among others.


Jose (19 years old) lives with his Mother (50s) in Guatemala City - a typical lower-class existence in one of the world’s most dangerous, religious, impoverished, and socially conservative countries.[4] She never had a husband, and Jose is her youngest and favorite child of five. Her life is her church, and selling sandwiches at a bus stop. Jose spends his days on cramped buses and fighting traffic as he runs food to waiting drivers. Aloof and resigned to things as they are, he fills his free moments playing with his phone and random sex arranged on street corners and dating apps —seeking something more meaningful has never entered his mind.

When he meets Luis, a migrant worker from a rural area, things change quickly and they secretly pursue an unexpected relationship and Jose revels in joy and love he has never before experienced. When their Mothers and Jose’s boss realize something is going on between them, Luis asks Jose to run away with him but Jose hesitates: can he leave his Mom alone?

A separation from Luis follows and Jose tries to return to his life as before but he can’t, and efforts to change himself and try new things also fail, and he’s overwhelmed by pain and loss and spirals downward wandering, drinking and fighting. Later he leaves the cool and windy highland big-city to stay with his Grandmother in the steamy rural Pacific coast region where he does manual labor and gains new perspectives on life and family. With new determination he begins an earnest search for Luis, but ultimately for “self” in the Caribbean coast region, a giant rainforest that was once the center of the Mayan civilization.

Along with disappointment of the apparent loss of first-love, Jose also feels the kindness of strangers and observes the random interactions of other young people (it’s the youngest population in all the Americas) [5] and he finds solace in self-reflection and place-wisdom among ancient ruins and solitary movement.


  • Enrique Salanic as Jose
  • Manolo Herrera as Luis
  • Ana Cecelia Mota as Mom


After the first screening of Jose to press and industry at Venice film festival, David Ronney, from Hollywood Reporter, wrote a review about Jose - "a tender observational quality backed by confident visual sense", "unabashed treatment of gay sex and nudity", on 31st August, 2018[6]

On the same week, before Queer Lion was announced, Rich Cline, the vice chair of the UK critics' circle Film Section and chair of the London Critics' Circle Film Awards, wrote a review for JOSE - "MUST SEE", "4 Stars", 'Earthy and honest".[7]

After that, there are more than 30 critics reviews that have been published in different languages. [8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Jose". Official selection of Venice days. Giornate degli Autori Venice Film Festival. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  2. "Venice days lineup". Variety. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  3. "12. Queer Lion Award to "José" by Li Cheng | Queer Lion". Queer Lion. 2018-09-06. Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  4. "Risk of violent crime highest in Latin America – Afghanistan, Guatemala, Mexico top country ranking – Verisk Maplecroft". 2016-12-01.
  5. "Central America: Guatemala".
  6. "Jose(2018) reviews". David Ronney. Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
  7. "Jose(2018) reviews". Rich Cline. Shadows on the wall. Retrieved 6 September 2018.
  8. "Jose(2018) review links". IMDB. Retrieved 16 November 2018.

External links[edit]

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