Nele Wohlatz, Argentina
Winner of the Sichtwechsel Film Award
Xiaobin (Xiaobin Zhang) is a young Chinese woman who has immigrated to Argentina to live with her family. To her parents, Xiaobin’s life path is clear: work with her mother as a laundress and meet some nice Chinese men until she finds the one she wants to marry. Xiaobin isn’t content with this, and when her first forays into the working world outside of her parents’ business are met with failure due to her lack of Spanish, she joins a language course. The more Spanish she learns, the more layered her life in Argentina becomes, until her options for the future are more complex than she originally planned.
That description, and the official description written by the filmmakers, make it seem like it would be an interesting take on the beginning stages of integration of immigrants. Unfortunately for The Future Perfect, it comes off more like an amateur film student’s final project than anything particularly cohesive or meaningful. This is particularly disappointing considering director/screenwriter Nele Wohlatz’s own experience as an immigrant in Argentina and the insights she supposedly said she gained from her cast. As a hybrid film, it tries to straddle the line between fiction and non-fiction without much success. The story is loosely based on Wohlatz’s encounter with Xiaobin Zhang (who plays the lead character) in a language course in Argentina, but, instead of managing to illuminate some of the truths of immigration, it simply comes off as wooden and boring. Considering the significant struggles that immigrants face with language and integration into societies around the world, and the unique perspective of Chinese immigrants in Argentina, The Future Perfect is a squandered opportunity that perhaps would have been more impactful in the hands of a more experienced or talented director.