Friday, June 28---Films from Latin America figure prominently in this year’s Festival schedule. In all, 11 films will be showcased, representing emerging talents from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba and Mexico. The recent explosion of film production in this region has fueled international audience interest in one of cinema’s most vital regions of inspiration.
Argentine film continues its renaissance following (and perhaps inspired by) the recent economic crisis in that country. In the film NORTHEAST, by director Juan Solanas, a French woman’s attempts to adopt a child in Buenos Aires go awry, so she travels to the northeastern region of Argentina and meets a pregnant woman who may be able to solve her problem.
The film features a marvelous performance by veteran French actress Carole Boquet, who won Best Actress honors at the Stockholm International Film Festival.
In the passionate documentary THE DIGNITY OF NOBODIES, Argentine director Fernando E. Solanas investigates his country’s recent economic collapse and follows the efforts of various citizens to fight back and create a habitable living situation for themselves and their country people.
The dynamic Brazilian cinema is represented by three superb films. UNDERGROUND GAME by Roberto Gervitz turns the subways of Sao Paulo into a playground for finding love, as a piano player spends his days hoping to find women he has only briefly glimpsed on a moving train. In the film DELICATE CRIME, director Beto Brant tells the story of a theater critic who falls desperately in love with a one-legged beauty, who is also involved with the painter for whom she models. The critic’s jealousy and intense feelings lead to an encounter which the woman claims is rape and the man says is an act of passion. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
In Sérgio Machado’s atmospheric LOWER CITY, two best friends fall for the same beautiful young hooker. The director won the Youth Award at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. In the beautifully shot THE HOUSE OF SAND, director Andrucha Waddington presents the struggles of three generations of women, who live amid the inhospitable sand dunes of northern Brazil. The film recently won the Alfred B. Sloan Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and will be theatrically released this summer by Sony Pictures Classics.
Chilean cinema is also making a comeback. Its most famous native son, Raoul Ruiz, is represented by his latest film THE LOST DOMAIN, a story of various meetings between a French aviator and a young Chilean, whose lives intersect, despite their opposing natures, through a shared love of flying. PLAY, directed by Alicia Scherson, uses a powerful soundtrack as a backdrop to the story of a country woman and an upscale urbanite who cross paths in contemporary Santiago. The film was Chile’s official nomination for the Best Foreign Language Oscar.
Debut Chilean director Matías Bize is definitely a young talent to watch, based on his sexy and revealing film IN BED, about a man and a woman who fall into bed before they fall into love. Attractive newcomers Blanca Lewin and Gonzalo Valenzuela sizzle on screen in this provocative film.
VIVA CUBA by Cuban director Juan Carlos Cremata tells the delightful story of two best friends (a young boy and girl) who travel across the island nation in search of the girl’s father. The film, which was Cuba’s official entry in the Oscar race, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The Mexican film revival continues with director Ricardo Benet’s moving NEWS FROM AFAR, about a teenager living in the Mexican highlands, who decides to seek a better life (and his biological father) in Mexico City.
The film was nominated for 8 Ariel Awards (the Mexican Oscar), winning for Best Actress, Supporting Actress and First Film.
Those curious about the face of the new Latin American cinema should walk, not run, to the Kabuki Theater to sample these Latin treats.