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Latin American Cinema
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Twenty-four hours in the lives of three young, wayward friends are chronicled in this impressive, low-budget charmer from Uruguay. Directors Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll follow the trio's drift through existence, which allows them time to ponder their state of chronic boredom, wax philosophic on life, and encounter a variety of bizarre characters. Winner of the Youth Jury Prize at the 2001 Rotterdam Film Festival. In Spanish with English subtitles. Juan Pablo Rebella/Pablo Stoll---Uruguay---2001---94 mins.
AFRO-CUBA: YESTERDAY & TODAY
Two exciting, colorful films spotlight the African roots of Cuba's culture by focusing on two legendary artists. Afro-Cuban mythology plays a major part in
The Last Rumba of Papa Montero
(Octavio Cortazar, Martinique/Cuba, 1992, 52 mins.), a film about the rhythmic dance style known as the Rumba and the legendary rumbero, Papa Montero, who was assassinated during Carnival. Told through beautiful images, sensual music, and exciting dance performances, this story captures the traditions of Cuban life as it guides the main character to his fate. Next, the multilayered documentary
Sara Gomez: An Afro-Cuban Filmmaker
(Alessandra Muller, Switzerland/Cuba, 2005, 76 mins.), focuses on the biography of Cuba's first female director. Though trained in ethnography, Gomez later turned to making films that reflect her interests in Afro-Cuban culture and women's issues. In Spanish with English subtitles. Octavio Cortazar/Alessandra Muller---Martinique/Cuba/Switzerland---1992/2005---128 mins.
One of the most popular Mexican films ever made, the cult sensation
is a famous example of a cabareteras, a curious film noir and musical hybrid wildly popular in Mexico in the '40s and '50s. Starring the immortal Ninon Sevilla, who
called "a cross between Rita Hayworth and Carmen Miranda," the film follows the melodramatic rise and fall of a popular nightclub star with a dark past. Newly remastered. In Spanish Alberto Gout---Mexico---1950---101 mins.
BREAKFAST CHRONICLE, A
In this searing look at the Mexican family at the end of the millennium, a father returns home after a long absence to take his place as the head of a very dysfunctional family. Pedro is able to sweep his long-suffering wife off her feet, but his children are less than thrilled to see him. His daughter suffers from nervous stomach pains; one son harbors thoughts of patricide; another dresses in yellow and sits in silence, fantasizing he's a bird. Adapted from the play by Jesus Gonzalez Davila and directed by Benjamin Cann, this "wildly stylized" (
All Movie Guide
) film will both startle and amaze. Winner of the Caligari Film Award at the 2001 Berlin Film Festival. In Benjamin Cann---Mexico---2000---120 mins.
A harrowing account of life on some of the world's most dangerous streets, this documentary follows 13-year-old Carlito as he guides filmmaker Jean-Stephane Sauvaire on a tour of his decimated neighborhood in Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city. There, armed children hold out against paramilitary troops, criminal gangs, and guerrilla fighters. In stark contrast to North American kids his age, Carlito carries a statue of the Virgin around as he listens to his shell-shocked neighbors confess their tragic stories and pray to the Holy Mother. Literally shot "under the gun" because of Medellin's daily street violence, Sauvaire offers a haunting expose, exquisitely photographed, and expertly crafted. In Spanish with optional English and French subtitles.
Jean-Stephane Sauvaire---France/Colombia---2004---74 mins.
CAVALLO BEHIND BARS
In this real-life story of dictators, political agents, and secret identities, Argentine businessman Ricardo Miguel Cavallo used the code name "Serpico" as an officer of the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976-1983. During this "Dirty War," Cavallo allegedly committed horrific acts of torture and terrorism against the citizenry--and he almost got away with it. In 2000, the slippery businessman was living in Mexico when Spain finally indicted him for his crimes. Despite Mexico's determination to extradite him, Cavallo appealed the decision, leading to a lengthy series of legal maneuverings. This documentary is an impassioned plea against such impunity. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Shula Erenberg/Laura Imperiale/Maria Ines Roque---Mexico---2006---50 mins.
Winner of 39 international awards and the most honored film in Chilean history, Silvio Caiozzi's drama is a beautifully photographed and haunting tale of obsession and repressed desire set against the backdrop of a decaying mansion in Santiago. Glum, middle-aged bachelor Don Andres hires Estela, a 17-year old country girl, to care for his wealthy and abusive grandmother. As time passes, he grows increasingly obsessed with her, blinding himself to the threats around him and to his own mental breakdown. Based on a novel by Jose Donoso. In Spanish with English subtitles. Silvio Caiozzi---Chile---2000---140 mins.
Winner of multiple international film festival awards, director Pablo Trapero's first feature uses non-actors in a tale that is by turns humorous and heartbreaking. This slice-of-life drama, told in a series of episodes, invites comparisons to the Neo-Realism of 1950s Italian cinema. At the center is Rulo, a one-time rock star and, now, our overweight, middle-aged, chain-smoking hero, trying to support his aging mother and musician son. As his efforts go increasingly awry, it is the love of family and friends that keeps him hopeful. Beautifully photographed in black and white and directed with a combination of aesthetic freshness and emotional subtlety,
is a key work in the current resurgence of Argentine cinema. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Pablo Trapero---Argentina---1999---90 mins.
CUBAN REVOLUTION: AN EXCLUSIVE FACETS 2-PACK
Cuban director Jorge Ulla chronicles the effects of Castro's Revolution from the outside in these two compelling films. Seen through the eyes of a dismally naive peasant who falls in love with a Havana chorus girl,
(Dominican Republic, 1979, 107 mins.) is a mesmerizing view of the Cuban Revolution. As this absurd romance is orchestrated and betrayed by Guaguasi's mentor, the dramatic elements of a love triangle emerge as a compelling metaphor for a country in transition. "Beautiful, humane, and undogmatic...A moving and disturbing story of sexual innocence and corruption" (Susan Sontag). Later with
(USA, 1988, 117 mins.), co-directed by Nestor Almendros, the brutal methods employed by Castro's government to maintain a stronghold on the Cuban population are chronicled in this revelatory documentary. Former Castro comrades and Communist party leaders, writers, intellectuals, and supporters of fallen Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista testify to the ill treatment they received at the hands of Cuba's police force. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Jorge Ulla---Dominican Republic/USA---1979/1988---224 mins.
DANY LAFERRIERE: FILMS FROM A POET'S IMAGINATION
The mystery and wonder of modern-day Haiti come alive in this two-film set based on the work of writer-director Dany Laferriere. In
How to Conquer America in One Night
(96 mins.), handsome Gege, a Haitian in his thirties, arrives in Montreal at the doorstep of his Uncle Fanfan, determined to be successful by charming blonde-haired women. During the course of one night out on the town, Gege and Fanfan discover fun, friendship, and fantasies--with the help of twins Andree and Denise.
On the Verge of a Fever
(88 mins.) is set in 1971, against the backdrop of Haiti's brutal dictatorship and features younger incarnations of Fanfan and Gege, the characters from the previous film. Fanfan finds himself in deep trouble after an incident with the Tonton-Macoute, Haiti's bloodthirsty military police force. He holes up with a beautiful neighbor in her house, where his life will drastically change. In French with English subtitles.
Dany Laferriere---Canada---2004---184 mins.
This sensual, exuberant work by the gifted Mexican director Maria Novaro tells the story of Julia (Maria Rojo), a 40-year-old telephone operator and single mother whose emotional life consists only of the
, a weekly ballroom dance. When her dancing partner disappears, Julia undertakes a grueling odyssey to locate him. More importantly, this search sets her on an extraordinary inner voyage. "One of the most enchanting surprises of the season" (Andrew Sarris). With Carmen Salinas, Blanca Guerra and Tito Vasconcelos. In Spanish with English subtitles. Maria Novaro---Mexico---1991---120 mins.
DARK SIDE OF THE HEART
From the director of
Man Facing Southeast
comes this parable about a narcissistic poet in search of the perfect woman. Claiming he will not "tolerate a woman who cannot fly," young Oliverio rejects potential lovers. When he meets a prostitute named Ana who can actually fly, she prefers to keep their relationship a business arrangement. Tormented and lovelorn, Oliverio must face the consequences of pursuing his dream. An original work of magical realism by Argentina's talented Subiela. With Dario Grandineti, Sandra Ballesteros and Nacha Guevara. "Intoxicatingly lush and sensual" (
Los Angeles Times
). In Spanish with English subtitles. Eliseo Subiela---Argentina/Canada---1992---127 mins.
"A triumph of celluloid" writes the
's J. Hoberman about this fractured, absurdist fable from Mexican filmmaker Arturo Ripstein. In many ways,
El Evangelio de las Maravillas
) serves as an homage to Ripstein's mentor, Luis Bunuel, but this irreverent film is so much more. A doomsday cult called New Jerusalem forms its belief system from biblical epics of the 1950s, particularly Cecil B. DeMille's
The Ten Commandments
. On an abandoned soundstage, cult leader Mama Dorito (Katy Jurado,
) addresses the congregation while Papa Basilio (Francisco Rabal) projects 16mm prints of his beloved movies. When Mama Dorito realizes she is dying, a replacement must be named.
's "offbeat sense of humor and visual splendor make it a must-see" (
). In Arturo Ripstein---Mexico---1998---112 mins.
DON'T FOOL WITH LOVE
The short stories of Nobel Prize-winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez inspired
Don't Fool with Love
, a trilogy of torrid tales steeped in the style of Marquez's magic realism. In
The Two Way Mirror
(Carlos Garcia Agraz, 1990, 27 mins.), a young woman about to wed the son of a prominent family discovers that she can see through time in her bedroom mirror, which begins a steamy romance with a 19th-century soldier. In
Saturday Night Thief
(Jose Luis Garcia Agraz, 1992, 25 mins.), a lonely woman whose husband is away finds herself strangely attracted to the bandit who breaks into her mansion. And in
(1991, 27 mins.), famed Cuban director Tomas Gutierrez Alea (
Strawberry and Chocolate
Memories of Underdevelopment
) spins a tragic yarn about two lovers' marriage plans that go awry one fateful night in 1956, and a letter received by the would-be bride 35 years later, leading her back. In Spanish with English subtitles. Carlos Garcia Agraz/Jose Luis Garcia Agraz/Tomas Gutierrez Alea---Mexico---1990-1992---91 mins.
EL COMPADRE MENDOZA
These two disturbing Hungarian tales paint a terror-filled portrait of troubled youth.
EL GALLO DE ORO
This recently remastered melodrama, based on a novel by Juan Rulfo with a screenplay by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Carlos Fuentes, is a classic of Mexican cinema. A poor man nurses an injured gamecock back to life and back into the ring with successful results. Wealth, fame, romance and temptation follow, as the man is lured into a questionable partnership with a greedy gambler and his mistress. In Spanish with English subtitles. Roberto Gavaldon---Mexico---1964---105 mins.
The legend of Erendira tells of a brave young Indian woman who took up arms against the Spanish conquistadors during the 16th century. Though soon to be married, Erendira defies the patriarchal conventions of her people, the Purepecha, by stealing a horse, teaching herself to ride, and using her skill to fight the invading Spaniards. In doing so, Erendira became a potent icon of strength and rebellion for indigenous Mexican cultures.
brings this colorful legend to life with Ariel Award-nominated art direction, costume design, make-up, and special effects, courtesy of producer-writer-director Juan Mora Catlett. In Purepecha with English subtitles. Juan Mora Catlett---Mexico---2007---107 mins.
Christmas Eve is anything but merry on a hot and humid night in Buenos Aires when everything seems to be going wrong. The trying times of several characters are followed in this comedy that manages to elicit warm emotions without resorting to cheap sentimentality or diminishing its dark undercurrents. Writer-director Lucho Bender's debut feature was nominated for 10 Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards, winning for Best First Film, and Best New Actor (Alfredo Casero). In Spanish with English subtitles.
Lucho Bender---Argentina---2000---100 mins.
FREE HAVANA (DVD-R)
Gay Rights is an issue heard around the world, including Cuba.
paints a vivid picture of what it has been like to be gay in Cuba through the candid stories of six gay and lesbian individuals. From the Batista era to the Revolution to the Mariel Boatlift to present-day Cuba,
exposes the evolution of gay life from a time when homosexuality was considered a punishable crime to current efforts to promote a greater acceptance of freedom of sexual orientation. Honest in approach and poignant in content, the stories of the six Cubans will inform and inspire as they touch your heart. In 2006, a shorter version of
, became the first documentary of its kind to be screened at Havana’s International Festival of New Latin Cinema, a milestone for LGBT cinema given the strict censorship in Cuba. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Eliezer Perez Angueira---Cuba---2012---58 mins.
In the tradition of magic realism, Leonardo Ricagni's
A Dios Momo
uses the carnival atmosphere to transport viewers to an enchanted time and place where reality and dreams collide. Obdulio, an 11-year-old Afro-Uruguayan boy from the streets, can neither read nor write. He lives with his grandmother and supports them by selling newspapers. One evening, he discovers that the night watchman at the newspaper is a magical "Maestro," who introduces the boy to the power of literacy and the meaning of life. Against the backdrop of Uruguay's stimulating carnival, the Maestro teaches Obdulio with the lyrics of the "murgas," the songs of the carnival. "Achieves a rich visual and spiritual sensibility unparalleled today" (AFI Fest). In Spanish with English subtitles. Leonardo Ricagni---Uruguay---2005---100 mins.
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