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The Latino in L.A. Film Festival

Festivals
by Christine Davila
May 2, 2012 3:00 PM
1 Comment
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More from the Latino scene from our woman in L.A., free lance festival programmer extraordinaire, Christine Davila, from her blog Chicana from Chicago:

Looking at yesterday’s announcement of Film Independent’s Los Angeles Film Festival reveals a healthy Latino presence among the 62 features and 48 short films in the program.  Here’s how I break down the Latino/ Ibero/ U.S. Latino component of the program.

Chile continues to give Argentina a run for its cache of exciting and growing cinematic output from South America with the inclusion of Thursday Til Sunday  (ISA & Distributor: FiGa) written and directed by Dominga Sotomayor ♀, in Narrative Competition.  

Drought by Everardo González
Drought by Everardo González

Although the traveling Mexican film festival Ambulante is no longer a program spotlight, Mexican films continue to be a mainstay of the festival. There are four feature-length films and three short films from/about Mexico.  In Narrative Competition, The Compass is Carried by the Dead Man (ISA: Kafilms, Argentina) written and directed by Arturo Pons [about a young Mexican aiming for Chicago], and in Documentary Competition, Drought by Everado González (recently awarded Best Documentary at FICG27) .  Out of competition is the gorgeously shot documentary, Canícula, and although the funding is mainly stateside,  Bernardo Ruiz paints a fascinating portrait of the risky journalistic practice and history of the seminal Tijuana weekly, Zeta in Reportero.

Also of note in the program is that four short films list Cuba as a co-production/origin of country.

But what of the U.S. Latino filmmakers and stories? Last year Los Angeles Film Festival was a great launchpad for Mamitas (Distributor: ScreenMedia, Producer rep: Traction Media), an authentic Chicano portrayal of young love set in Echo Parque written and directed by Nicolas Ozeki (a non-Latino), co-starring fast rising hot talents Veronica Diaz-Carranzo (Blaze You Out) and E.J. Bonilla.  The film is currently in theaters now.  (Big recommend,theater listings here-go support it!)

The closest we have to representing U.S. Latino in the features section is Four, the feature debut of Joshua Sanchez who hails from Houston, Texas.  Based on a Christopher Shinn play, the July 4th-eve-set story is a snapshot of two disparate relationships tensely intertwined and their at-odd dynamics of desire.  Coincidentally, E.J. Bonilla also stars (this guy is blowing up!).   I would also include as U.S. Latino, Searching for Sugar Man, the documentary by Malik Bendjelloul about singer songwriter Sixto Rodriguez’s fascinating rise and fall into obscurity as a Uj.S. Latino story.  As a matter of fact, the film seems to suggest that perhaps Sixto’s Mexican-American identity might have been a reason he was not embraced by the 60s and 70s mainstream.  [Per Sydney: The film was snatched up at Sundance by Sony Pictures Classics and by ISA Protagonist who is screening it twice in Cannes.]

As for U.S. Latino shorts, Fireworks written and directed by Victor Hugo Duran, which is also incidentally centered around 4th of July, is an L.A. set story about boys trying to rap on girls.

Fireworks by Victor Hugo Duran
Fireworks by Victor Hugo Duran
Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke
Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke

My favorite Miami based hooligans, Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva, keep representing with their fresh and experimental short film, Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke.  They are part of a collective of  go-there filmmakers, Borscht Corp who had four crazy shorts screen at SXSW (and they were a riot to bootie shake dance with at SXSW Film’s Closing Night Party).   You must carve out an hour and look at their work on the site (NSFW!)

And lastly, in front of camera there’s some America Ferrera in Todd Berger’s It’s a Disaster (ISA: Maya), and rising boriqua actress April Hernandez Castillo, of  hit webseries East Willy B, Dexter and other TV, is in The History of Future Folk [Per Sydney:  one of 7 horror films in the festival, another being It's A Disaster per Dread Central, so take note Latino distributors like Lionsgate because horror films are a favorite of a certain Latino demographic!] by J. Anderson Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker, described as a “sweet sci-fi musical comedy”.  Below is the rest of the Latino and Ibero-American (includes Spain and Portugal).  Descriptions provided by L.A. Film Festival, and bold cap commentary by me.

NARRATIVE COMPETITION: 

o    All Is Well – Portugal (DIRECTOR Pocas Pascoal ♀, PRODUCER Luis Correia CAST Cheila Lima, Ciomara Morais) – Strangers in a strange land, two beautiful Angolan sisters fleeing a civil war in their homeland struggle to survive in Lisbon. Pocas Pascoal’s deeply personal saga shows us the face of exile with quietly stunning power. North American Premiere

o    The Compass is Carried by the Dead Man – Mexico (DIRECTOR/WRITER Arturo Pons PRODUCER Ozcar Ramírez González CAST Gael Sanchez Valle, Pedro Gamez, Ana Ofelia Murguía, Eligio Melendez, Luis Bayardo, Marco Perez) – A young man and a dead man journey north through a subtly surreal desert landscape, picking up a wagonful of odd characters as they go in this darkly humorous satire of contemporary Mexico. North American Premiere

o    Four – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Joshua Sanchez PRODUCER Christine Giorgio CAST Wendell Pierce, Emory Cohen, Aja Naomi King, E.J. Bonilla) – Over the course of a steamy 4th of July night, a father and daughter, each trapped in loneliness, reach out for sexual connection — he with a self-hating teenage boy, she with a smooth-talking wannabe homeboy — in this psychologically complex, beautifully acted drama. World Premiere

o    Thursday till Sunday – Chile (DIRECTOR/WRITER Dominga Sotomayor  PRODUCERS Gregorio González, Benjamin Domenech CAST Santi Ahumada, Emiliano Freifeld, Francisco Pérez-Bannen, Paola Giannini) – With uncommon beauty and style, this Chilean road movie finds a family at a crossroads, as the daughter slowly realizes the divide between the adults in the front seat and the kids in back. North American Premiere

DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION:

o    Drought – Mexico (DIRECTOR Everado González PRODUCER Martha Orozco) – Contrasting the lives of a cattle-ranching community with the arid northeastern Mexican landscape that surrounds them, this cinema vertité documentary paints a poetic portrait of a community on the verge of extinction. US Premiere

o    Sun Kissed – (DIRECTORS Maya Stark , Adi Lavy ♀ PRODUCERS Jocelyn Glatzer, Maya Stark, Adi Lavy) – With remarkable strength of spirit, a husband and wife examine their lives and why their children and others have been struck with a rare genetic disorder in this powerful portrait of a small Navajo community. World Premiere ~ OKAY NOT LATINO BUT IT'S NATIVE AMERICAN SO I’M GIVING IT A SHOUT SINCE THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH NATIVE AMERICAN STORIES.

INTERNATIONAL SHOWCASE:

o    Canícula – Mexico (DIRECTOR José Álvarez WRITERS Sebastián Hoffman, José Álvarez PRODUCER Mauricio Fabre CAST Hermelinda Santes, Esteban González, Mario García) – This is a hauntingly beautiful portrait of the rituals and crafts of contemporary Indians in remote Veracruz, who teach their boys to fly. ~ SEE MY INTERVIEW WITH JOSE HERE.

o    The Last Elvis – Argentina (DIRECTOR Armando Bo WRITERS Armando Bo, Nicolás Giacobone PRODUCERS Steve Golin, Hugo Sigman, Patricio Alvarez Casado, Victor Bo, Armando Bo CAST John McInerny, Griselda Siciliani, Margarita Lopez) – John McInerny gives a staggering performance in this poignant tale of a Buenos Aires Elvis impersonator who only comes alive when he dons the King’s clothes to perform. How can he reconcile his dreams of glory with his dead end factory job and an estranged wife and daughter who can’t live inside his fantasies?

o    Neighboring Sounds – Brazil (DIRECTOR/WRITER Kleber Mendonça Filho PRODUCER Emilie Lesclaux CAST Irandhir Santos, Gustavo Jahn, Maeve Jinkings, W.J. Solha) – Kleber Mendonca Filho’s astonishing, suspenseful debut film focuses on one upscale street in the seaside town of Recife, where a private security team is enlisted to protect the residents from crime. By its startling conclusion, you feel you’ve seen all of Brazilian society exposed.

o    The Strawberry Tree  Canada/Cuba/Italy (DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Simone Rapisarda Casanova) – Filmed in a small Cuban fishing village mere weeks before a hurricane decimated the entire region, this stunning documentary unknowingly captures the town’s final days even as it reframes the usual filmmaker-film subject relationship.

SUMMER SHOWCASE:

o    La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus – USA/Guatemala (DIRECTOR Mark Kendall PRODUCERS Mark Kendall, Rafael González, Bernardo Ruiz) – The journey and transformation of a yellow American school bus into a vibrant Central American camionetasensitively reveals both the beauty and violence of everyday life in Guatemala.

o    Reportero – (DIRECTOR Bernardo Ruiz PRODUCERS Bernardo Ruiz, Patricia Benabe, Anne Hubbell FEATURING Sergio Haro Cordero, Adela Navarro Bello) – A look at the incredible danger facing journalists in Mexico through the eyes of investigative reporter Sergio Haro and other staff at Zeta, the defiant Tijuana-based newsweekly.~ SEE MY INTERVIEW WITH BERNARDO HERE

o    Searching for Sugar Man – (DIRECTOR/WRITER Malik Bendjelloul PRODUCERS Simon Chinn, Nicole Stott, George Chignell) – Years after fading into obscurity at home, the music of ’70s U.S. singer/songwriter Rodriguez became an underground sensation in South Africa. Decades after his disappearance, two fans uncover the startling truth behind the legend.

BEYOND:

o    Juan of the Dead – Cuba (DIRECTOR/WRITER Alejandro Brugués PRODUCERS Gervasio Iglesias, Inti Herrera CAST Alexis Días de Villegas, Jorge Molina, Andrea Duro, Andros Perugorría, Jazz Vila, Eliecer Ramírez) – The streets of Havana are alive with the undead in Cuba’s first zombie comedy, a wild and bloody romp that sinks its sharp satirical teeth into the Cuban body politic. Castro may not be amused, but you will be.

SHORT FILM COMPETITION:

Against the Sea (Contra el mar) – Mexico, USA (DIRECTOR) Richard Parkin

Black Doll (Prita Noire) – Mexico (DIRECTOR) Sofia Carrillo

Kendo Monogatari – Cuba, Guatemala (DIRECTOR) Fabián Suárez

Scanning (Ecografía) – Cuba (DIRECTOR) Aleksandra Maciuszek Mukoid

Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke – (DIRECTORS) Jillian Mayer, Lucas Leyva ~CRAZY TALENTED!  MIAMI REPRESENT!

Fireworks – (DIRECTOR) Victor Hugo Duran -

Kendo Monogatari – Cuba, Guatemala (DIRECTOR) Fabián Suárez

Paraíso – (DIRECTOR) Nadav Kurtz   ~DOC SUBJECT IS ABOUT 3 MEXICANS

Scanning (Ecografía) – Cuba (DIRECTOR) Aleksandra Maciuszek Mukoid

Voice Over – Spain (DIRECTOR) Martín Rosete

For full lineup and more info go to L.A. Film Festival

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1 Comment

  • HMFF | May 4, 2012 5:13 PMReply

    For anyone who is interested in MEXICAN films in Los Angeles. You cannot miss the Hola Mexico Film Festival www.holamexicoff.com 24 - 30 of May, 2012

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