Plaza Catedral: touching drama from Panama

Ilse Salas in Plaza Catedral

Plaza Catedral is a Spanish language film from Panama. A grieving woman and a teen age boy are thrown together in this story about human connections in a violent world.

An excellent Ilse Salas plays the lead character, Alicia, in Plaza Catedral. She’s a Mexican architect living in Panama, selling luxury real estate. She’s grieving for her son, who died a few months earlier, and for her marriage, which couldn’t survive the loss of the child.

Fernando Xavier De Casta and Ilse Salas in Plaza Catedral
Prime parking space right here

Outside Alicia’s apartment building, she meets a street kid who rents out parking spaces belonging to the building and washes cars for tips. She calls him Chief (Fernando Xavier De Casta).

Alicia and Chief are at odds most of the time. She doesn’t like paying to park in front of her own house. She watches him work the street and wash cars from her balcony.

Then one day he shows up at her apartment door with a bullet in his side. She takes him to the hospital. When he gets out, he comes to her again and asks to be let in.

Alicia does let Chief into her apartment and into her life. She becomes entangled in his world without meaning to. She cares for his wound and watches him, all the while remembering her lost son.

Chief comes from a violent world where young boys are shot all the time. When he disappears from Alicia’s apartment with some cash, she follows clues into the roughest neighborhoods trying to find him. It isn’t about the money. She wants to help him.

She does help him, but at great cost.

The poster for Plaza Catedral featuring images of Fernando Xavier De Casta and Ilse Salas

Everything about the film was well done. The music, the cinematography, and especially the interactions between the two principle actors. Plaza Catedral is Panama’s first ever film to be short-listed for the Oscars in the International Feature Film category. Abner Benaim wrote and directed the film.

The film is available on Netflix or can be rented on Prime Video.

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