Cuarencena is the International Feature submission for Dominican Republic. The film takes place right in the middle of the Covid pandemic. The country is in a state of emergency. Restrictions are at an all-time high with a mandatory curfew for all citizens starting in the early evening until the following morning. It’s illegal to wander the streets during this time and a two to six month jail time is the minimum sentence for those arrested. Gatherings outside of the family is strictly prohibited.
After seven months of complete isolation, Mateo, a Michelin star chef, and his wife, Claudia, decide to, despite the risks, host a dinner party for their closest friends. As each guest shows their negative test results as they enter the glorious upscale home, the night starts out amazingly well for the hosts and their five invited friends. The married couple had to unfortunately close their restaurant because of the pandemic, so Mateo has been eager to prepare a five dinner meal to showcase his newest creations. But, the tension is slowly rising amongst the seven restless individuals, and what is supposed to be a deliciously elegant fine-dining experience slowly starts to fall apart for all the people sitting around the table.
The film is divided into five dishes: amuse-bouche, appetizer, main course, desert, and the afterglow. And the escalation between the guests increases as each plate is revealed. During Covid, the paranoia was at an all-time high due to the uncertainty of the virus, but also how life would forever be changed. Each guest slowly begins to reveal secrets, fears, regrets, trauma, and the lack of hope. Like Mateo, some people lost everything during this time and looking into the future was frightening knowing that it could never be better than the past. It’s like preparing the most magical dish ever made, plating it, and eventually time ruins it.
The film seeks to reflect on decisions made in one’s life. It causes one to explore the feelings of regret caused by bad decisions. It searches for one to look deep down inside one’s self to accept what can’t be changed. It’s a unique perspective on how the pandemic forever altered the way people think, the way people act, the way people react, and the way the world would never be the same again. But the beauty of humans and the beauty of being alive is the ability to re-bound, re-start and re-build shattered dreams. With one life lost is another life born.
One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. For the guests at the party, a quarantined dinner was just what was needed to start anew.