This year started off with a Bang (with a capital 'B') for Latino film festivals. Although Latino representation at Miami is a given, it wasn't as obvious at Sundance as in previous years and is a ghost town at Tribeca leaving SXSW, as always, to pick up the slack for the “mainstream” festivals. But, it was the Latino film festivals that really pushed the rainbow of Latino cinema upon the festival landscape. San Diego Latino (SDLFF) had, in my opinion, its strongest lineup in many years. They celebrated their 20th anniversary by showcasing classics that SDLFF had screened over the years, giving the audience a chance to fall in love with them on the big screen all over again. CineFestival in Tejas, who has always played by the beat of their own drum, dropped the mic on everyone by announcing the Latino Writers Project Lab, a collaboration with Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program, which will give filmmakers telling 'American Latino' stories a venue to have their projects mentored. Next up we have three diverse festivals with the Chicago Latino Film Festival celebrating its 29th year, Cine Las Americas in Austin, TX who very much embody their local community with an 'Hecho en Texas' and Youth specific programs, and then there's a new kid on the block in Philly, the Filadelfia Latin American Film Festival. In only its 2nd year, they have put together a two day event to bring Latino films to an underserved vibrant city. LatinoBuzz painstakingly selected our personal top picks that we think are a “must-see.” But don't just take our word for it, check out their websites for full listings and see for yourself how fly Latino cinema really is!– Mexico
Dir. Luis Mandoki
Honduran teenager Sabina Rivas intends to get to the United States, harboring dreams of becoming a famous singer and distancing herself from her former young lover, Jovany, now a vicious gang member.
The Wild Ones (Los niños salvajes) – Spain
Dir. Patricia Ferreira
Alex, Oky and Gabi are three angry, misunderstood teens from Barcelona who have to deal with parents who have completely forgotten that they too were once teens; parents who, on most occasions, blame their children for their unfulfilled dreams. The trio has dreams and ambitions of their own and they love to test the limits imposed by society. But push comes to shove and Oky commits an unforgivable act that will leave many in shock in this thoughtful and sober drama.
Nevertheless (Y Sin Embargo)
Dir. Rudy Mora
Lapatun is late for his math exam at a music school; to justify his tardiness he invents a wild story about having seen a UFO and spoken with its crew. The school is turned upside down by Lapatun’s claims; with some students demanding his expulsion and some teachers questioning the role creativity plays in a child’s education.
Dust (Polvo) – Guatemala
Dir. Julio Hernández Cordón
In a small Guatemalan village where many were "disappeared" during the country's civil war, a troubled young man struggles with the memory of his murdered father — and the nearby presence of the man who turned his father in.
From Tuesday To Sunday (De
Jueves A Domingo) – Chile
Dir. Dominga Sotomayor
Two children travel with their parents from Santiago Chile to the north of Chile for a family holiday. The landscape's loneliness and the car's confinement help bring out the couple's troubles and the children learn that this might turn out to be their father's farewell and their last family vacation.
Delusions of Grandeur – USA
Dir. Iris Almaraz, Gustavo Ramos
In the mid-1990s a medicated grungy girl stopped taking her medication (Prozac), crossed over a rainbow, and became a woman in a crazy, wonderful place called San Francisco. Lulu, Rocio, and Illusion are struggling with the sexuality and gender roles that we all play. It is said that there is someone for everyone, and the heroines in this story put that theory to the test in a city with a history of love at its core - but will they respect themselves in the morning?
Went to Heaven (Violeta Se Fue A Los Cielos) – Chile
Dir. Andres Wood
Violeta Went To Heaven tells the story of the iconic Chilean singer and folklorist Violeta Parra, tracing her evolution from impoverished child to international sensation and Chile's national hero, while capturing the swirling intensity of her inner contradictions, fallibilities, and passions.
Dir. Laura Brownson, Beth Levison
Three-time felon. One-time Tony award winner. Lemon Andersen is a pioneering poet whose words speak for a generation. But Lemon has landed back in the 'hood, living in the projects with thirteen family members and desperate for a way out. So he turns to the only thing he has left, his pen and his past
Boxes (7 Cajas) – Paraguay
Dir. Juan Carlos Maneglia, Tana Schémbor
Víctor receives an unusual proposal,
to carry 7 boxes of unknown content through the Market Number 4 but things get
complicated along the way.
Written by Juan Caceres and Vanessa Erazo, LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow @LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook.