Latin American Cinema: New and Vital

By: Mireya Castañeda, on: Visual Arts
Latin American Cinema: New and Vital

The International New Latin American Cinema Festival is a special party of the big screen held each December in Havana, an event the region’s filmmakers never want to miss. It’s cinematography at a magnifi cent creative moment; fi lmmaking that is new and vital. The best of the year’s fi lms, both from Latin America and from other regions viewing Latin America, are the true stars of the event as they vie for the Coral Awards. This festival is the beating heart of the region’s fi lm festivals, such that the intentions of Alfredo Guevara, founder and chairman of the meeting are always renewed, for perennial boldness, without intellectual laziness and always seeking new ways to show and tell. In addition, the Festival has always had the characteristic of becoming a multiple gathering, having that marvellous objective of building bridges of friendship, knowledge and information. Latin America never lacks stories or daring directors. Just remember that 120 films from the region were selected for the 32nd International Festival of New Latin American Cinema (2-13 December 2010). The Coral Awards reflect the variety in style, themes and genre that have, as added value, the splendid and real existence of new names to join the region’s filmmakers. As just one example, last year the First Coral Award went to Uruguayan Federico Veiroj for his fi lm La vida útil (The useful life), in which the fi lmmaker depicts the confl icts of moviemaking within moviemaking. The second Coral went to Pablo Larraín, from Chile, for Post Mortem, a perfectly executed movie, complex and audacious, which also gained the Best Female and Male performance awards for Antonia Zegers and Antonio Castro, the best Script Award for Larraín and Mateo Iribarren and the International Federation of Film Critics (Fipresci) Prize. The jury decided to award a special mention to Casa vieja (Old House), by Cuban Lester Hamlet for its contemporaneous depiction based on a theatre play. That one also won the Audience Award. The Coral Award for Best Direction went to Cuban Fernando Pérez for José Martí: el ojo del canario (José Martí: the eye of the canary). The movie, greatly applauded by both critics and audiences, also obtained the Award for Best Art Direction (Erick Grass), Best Poster (Giselle Monzón) and the SIGNIS (World Catholic Association for Communication) Award. There were 26 fi lms in the documentary section, with the First Coral going to Pecados de mi padre (My Father’ Sins), directed by Nicolás Entel, about the diffi cult life of the son of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. The short film section awarded its First Coral to Cuban Los bañistas (The Swimmers) by Carlos Lechuga for its synthesis of story and sense of humour. Sambatown by Brazilian Cadu Macedo won for Animation, while the Best Film by a non-Latin American director went to American filmmaker Estela Bravo for Operación Peter Pan: cerrando el círculo en Cuba (Operation Peter Pan: Flying Back to Cuba). The ALBA Cultural fi ction award was delivered ex aequo to Las acacias by Pablo Giormelli (Argentina) and Chamaco by Juan Carlos Cremata (Cuba), and in the documentary section, to El fi n de Potemkin (The End of Potemkin) by Misael Bustos (Argentina). The Award consists of 60,000 dollars for each fi lm and 30,000 dollars for the documentary and services of sound, color and other specialties in Brazil and Argentina. Cuban moviegoers, and the number of them may astonish you when you learn that thousands hit the theatres facing the dilemma of choosing among the parallel exhibitions of a splendid international panorama of films, which receive prizes from the Fipresci. To that they must add all the different exhibitions dedicated to specific filmmakers and cinematographic genres. The gathering has always been a sort of summit of filmmakers of the region and its 33rd edition, this coming December, will have the same importance, although, as Guevara said: “Number is not always a synonym for quality; we look for diversity and that depends on the annual production of each country, not on the Festival”. Guevara believes that the Festival plays dual roles: “gathering Latin American filmmakers and giving new creators greater visibility, that is one…and delivering days of satisfaction, festivity, intelligence to the people by watching these movies.” The Cuban audience has a passion for movies and “that is the greatest gift that can be given to fi lmmakers from Latin America.”



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