The 14th Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) returns to the Mann Chinese 6 in Hollywood, August 19 through August 25. The weeklong event will screen over 90 feature films, shorts and documentaries from 20 different countries.
Marcel Rasquin’s “Hermano” will be the Opening Night Gala presentation on Thursday, August 19 at the legendary Grauman’s Chinese Theater (6925 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, CA). First-time director Rasquin’s soccer film, set in the slum of La Ceniza, follows two players scouted to tryout with the Caracas Football Club. The drama won The 2010 Moscow International Film Festival’s top prize, the Golden George.
Carlos Carrera’s “Backyard” (“El Traspatio”) Mexico’s Oscar entry, 2009, will close the festival on August 25.
Premieres include: The World Premiere of “Bedrooms” ,Youssef Delara, Michael D. Olmos and Victor Teran’s interwoven tale of love and loss and the West Coast Premiere of William Wedig’s “Forged.”
Dedicated to preserving Latino cinema for future generations, LALIFF participated in the restoration of the Puerto Rican classic comedy, Jacobo Morales’s “Dios Los Cria” (1979), partnering with the Academy Film Archive, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences™; Archivo de Imágenes en Movimiento del Archivo General de Puerto Rico; and the Film and Electronic Arts Department of California State University, Long Beach.
“Dios Los Cría” (“And God Created Them.”) which screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1981 Cannes Film Festival was also selected as one of the 25 most significant films of Latin America. “Dios Los Cria” plays Monday August 23 @ 7:00 pm, Egyptian Theatre.
A Brazilian section featuring films by the newest generation of Brazilian filmmakers includes: Beadie Finzi’s dance documentary “Only When I Dance”, Luciana Burlamaqui’s documentary about actress turned prison activist Sophia Bisilliat and the prisoner-formed rap group 509-E, (named after their cell at Carandiru prison) and Fabio Barreto’s bio-pic of the Brazilian President “Lula, o Filho do Brasil” (“Lula, A Son Of Brazil”)
Anna Muylaert’s indie black comedy “É Proibido Fumar” (“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”) swept the Grande Prêmio Cinema Brasil (Brazil’s Oscars) winning Best Fiction Feature, Best Director, Original Screenplay, Music Score and Edition of Fiction. It also swept the Brazilia Festival of Brazilian Cinema (2009), winning Best Actress (Glória Pires), Best Art Direction, Best Editing, Best Film, Best Music, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress- Candango Trophy, and won the Best Actress/Best Director, APCA Trophy – 2010 São Paulo Association of Arts Critics Award.
Cuban-American director Miguel Coyula’s bi-lingual mixed media “Memorias Del Desarrollo” (“Memories of Overdevelopment”) is both an homage to Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s 1968 “Memorias del subdesarrollo” (Memories of Underdevelopment) and a post-modern portrait of displacement viewed through the lens of the Cuban diaspora.
Based on Cuban ex-pat Edmundo Desnoes’s 2007 novel “Memorias del Desarrollo” (a sequel to the novel adapted by Alea), the film follows a middle-aged Sergio burdened with “mistakes of two lifetimes” and his gay filmmaking brother Pablo (based on Néstor Almendros.)
“El cónsul de Sodoma” (“The Consul Of Sodoma”) Sigfrid Monleón’s sensual, explicit bio-pic about Spanish writer Jaime Gil de Biedma (a major poet of the post civil-war “generation of ’50”) ) scandalized the Goya Awards. Jordi Mollá plays the wealthy writer who came of age during Franco’s fascist regime. He tours the seedy gay nightlife of 50’s Manila, sparkles at the “caviar left” salons of Franco-ist Spain, makes the scene in swinging, progressive 60’s Barcelona. (Midnight screening, Saturday, Aug 21, Mann 1)
Action films include: “La Rabia” (Rabia) (a thriller produced by Guillermo del Toro), which won the Ibero-American prize at this year’s Guadalajara festival for Ecuadorian filmmaker Sebastian Cordero. Jorge Navas’s Goya nominated “La Sangre y La Lluvia” (“Blood and Rain”) vengeance -romance portrays one night in Bogotá’s Underworld.
Carlos Carerra’s thriller, “Backyard” (El Traspatio), one of the strongest contenders in the 2009 Oscar Foreign Film race, was based on actual events that took place in 1996 in Ciudad Juárez: a Mexican border city sustained by American-owned factories (maquiladoras) that riddled the Mexican side of the border after the NAFTA agreement went into effect.
Sabina Berman’s screenplay proposes various possible culprits of the ongoing Mexican femicide. Whether it’s the work of a serial killer, snuff film makers or sex traffickers, what emerges is a grim portrait of a society on the brink, in which femicide is common and the culprits have never been brought to justice. Jimmy Smits plays Mickey Sanchez, businessman and bar owner, who maintains his respectable family life in El Paso, while abusing schoolgirls in the lawless border town. Teenage Juanita Sanchez (Asur Zagada) joins her cousin Márgara (Amorita Rasgada) who works in an electronics maquiladora in Ciudad Juárez. Juanita’s naive romance with Cutberto (Ivan Cortes), leads to her death. Both actors are wonderful as the easily manipulated peasant workers, in well over their heads.
Dramatic features include: William Wedig’s low-budget redemptive drama “Forged”, set in the rust belt town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, which won Best Picture at HBO’s International Latino Film Festival. Albert Xavier’s “Hermafrodita” (Hermaphrodite”) a gender identity drama from the Dominican Republic which won the Audience Choice Awards at the Chicago Latino Film festival 2009. Columbian first time director Carlos Gaviria’s road movie Retratos En Un Mar De Mentiras” (“Portraits In A Sea Of Lies”) won the Best Actress Award for Paola Baldion’s performance at Guadalajara. Juan Delancer’s “Tropico De Sangre” (‘Tropic Of Blood”) tells the true story of the martyred Mirabal sisters who openly opposed the brutal dictatorship General Rafael Trujillo and were brutally murdered.
Miguel Necoechea’s “Chamaco” (“The Kid”), the latest feature film by Los Angeles-based Rogue Arts (with Ivania Films, Mexico City,) was acquired over the holidays by Los Angeles based Maya Entertainment, prior to its U.S. premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The film premiered in October at the Morelia Film Festival. Estranged from his son, Jimmy (Kirk Harris), a former boxing champion, Dr. Frank Irwin (Martin Sheen) befriends teen would-be boxer Abner (Alex Perea), and, with his son, helps Abner literally fight for his life.
Filmed in over 80 locations in Northern Colombia, Ciro Guerra’s “Los viajes del viento” (“The Wind Journeys”) was invited to participate in the “Un Certain Regard” section of the 2009 Cannes Film Festival Official Selection.
Paulo Andres Perez’ widescreen compositions of Columbia’s breathtaking virgin landscape frame the folkloric road movie, a magical realist quest.
When his wife dies, vallenato singer and Juglar Ignacio Carrillo (Marciano Martínez) vows to stop playing and return his cursed “Devil’s Accordian” to his master, who “won it from the Devil”. Carrillo, and would-be teen apprentice Fermín Morales (Yull Núñez) travel from Majagual through the Caribbean region of Northern Columbia to the desolate desert hamlet of Taroa to find the maestro. Accompanied by their donkey, they travel from village to village. In one, Carrillo plays for a deadly knife battle, in another Fermin wins the approval of a conga master (for bravery not musical skill) and is initiated with Lizard’s blood, to the amazement of the Bantu speaking conga students. The pair competes in the Vallenato Legend Festival in Valledupar, where Carrillo’s lyrical improvisations best the competition, and draw attention from an old love.
Dour peasant Carrillo accepts Fermin’s presence reluctantly. Fermin may long for a father figure but Carrillo’s in no rush to mentor him. Fermin may long to be a Juglar, but it’s clear he has no musical talent. Fermin’s tenacity in the face of violence finally wins Carrillo over. The injured Ignacio wakes in an Arhuaca indian village.
Carrillo is lured into a musical mano-a mano, besting an arrogant local player. When Carrillo is robbed by a mysterious band of thugs, Fermin must recover the cursed accordian. Wonderful musical interludes pepper the haunting film, which highlights Columbia’s cultural diversity. “The Wind Journeys” (“Los viajes del viento”) was Columbia’s 2009 Oscar entry
Comedies include: Fina Torres’s “Habana Eva”, a romantic comedy set in the very transitional Cuba, which won the Best International Feature Award at HBO’s International Latino Film Festival and top honors at The New York Latino Film Festival; “Cuestion De Principios” (“A Matter Of Principles”) A Capraesque comedy, starring Argentina’s national treasure Fernando Luppi, Norma Aleandro and the marvelous Pablo Echarri, by the director of “Rosarigarsinos.”
Alvaro Brechner’s Uruguayan post-modern Western “Mal dia para pescar”
(“Bad Day To Go Fishing”) follows two losers, hustling ‘manager’ Prince Orsini and washed up East German wresting champ Jacob von Oppen through a series of wrestling matches in one-horse towns. The pulpy tragi-comedy is adapted from fantasist Juan Carlos Onetti’s short story “Jacob And The Other
Noted documentaries include:
The crowd pleasing “El Ambulante” (“The Peddler”) follows itinerant Argentine filmmaker Daniel Burmeister, who makes low-tech films with small-town locals for room and board-directed by Eduardo de la Serna, Lucas Marcheggiano, and Adriana Yurcovich. “Tin Tan”: Francesco Taboada Tabone (“The Last Zapatistas”) essays Mexican comedian Germain Valdés (Tin Tan) and the origins of “pachuquismo” using a trunkload of memorabilia, stills and film clips. Uruguayan director Gonzalo Arijón’s award winning documentary, “Eyes Wide Open: Exploring Today’s South America,” studies the “free market” policies that beggared several South American economies and the recent drive by leaders across the region to regain economic independence.
Jorge Wolney Atalla’s in your face documentary “Sequestro” (“Kidnapping”) chronicles the crisis of extortion kidnappings in Brazil. Atalla spent four years filming victims, victim’s families, and the officers of Sao Paulo’s Divisão Anti-Sequestro (DAS) a special Anti-Kidnapping Division formed in 2001 when the epidemic of kidnappings became untenable. Victims from six to eighty, and every level of society, share their harrowing stories.
The film also details the stressful lives of the young DAS officers and their families, who suffer through the kidnappings along with the victims’ families. Happily, we are present at numerous rescues, and witness the tragic discovery of bodies recovered during failed negotiations. When disbelieving victims are recovered, some rendered speechless as they are pulled to safety, the audience is in tears from released tension.
Attala conceived his searing doc as a thriller, structured around the kidnapping of Joseph Ibiapina de Souza. Rapid fire editing by Atalla, Marcelo Bala and Marcelo Moraes keep the tension high. The production team is developing a narrative feature based on this award-winning doc.
Music themed films include: José Sánchez-Montes González’s 57 minute documentary “La Leyenda del Tiempo” (“The Legend of Time”) which details the recording of Camarón’s revolutionary rock-Flamenco album (with lyrics by Federico Garcia Lorca) and Carmen Marrón’s Indie Latin hip-hop feature “Go For It.”
LALIFF’s Hollywood Connect, a series of free industry panels, conversations and presentations created to build bridges between filmmakers and professionals from the Hollywood film community, will include:
The Advantages of International Co-Production (a discussion of the “dos and don’ts” of International Co-Productions.)
Presented by: EGEDA Friday, August 20 12:30PM – 3:30PM
EGEDA U.S. Offices, 681 Trenton Drive, Beverly Hills
Moderated by: Leon Ichaso, Director Panelists:
Rafael Sanchez, Managing Director, EGEDA-SGR
Manuel Soria, Managing Director, Madrid Film Commission
Julia Steinweg, Founder/Producer, Steinweg Emotion Pictures
Gabriela Tagliavini, Director/Producer
Café con… MATT LOPEZ
Presented by: WGA, West
Saturday, August 21 1:00PM – 2:00PM
Renaissance Hotel & Spa, 3rd Level, Hollywood & Highland, 1755 North Highland Avenue
Moderated by: Ligiah Villalobos, writer “Under The Same Moon” (“La Misma Luna”). Matt Lopez (“Bedtime Stories” & “Race To Witch Mountain”) discusses his latest film, the Walt Disney Pictures action adventure, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”) with fellow screenwriter Ligiah Villalobos (“La Misma Luna”. **Special Bonus – A Special FREE Screening of “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” at 10AM at the Mann Chinese 6 Cinemas will precede Café con… MATT LOPEZ.
A DIRECTORS ROUNDTABLE Featuring Fina Torres – Director, “Habana, Eva”, Carmen Marron – Director/Producer/Writer, “Go For It!” Consuelo Alba – Director, “El Andalon,” Isabel Cueva – Director, “In The Name Of Freedom”, Yvette Edery – Director, “Jillian Dillon”, Sarah Vaill – Director, “Women With Altitude.” Sunday, August 22-2:00PM – 3:00PM- Renaissance Hotel & Spa, 3rd Level, Hollywood & Highland, 1755 North Highland Avenue.
A DIALOGUE ON IMMIGRATION ISSUES: WE ARE AMERICA/NOSOTROS SOMOS AMERICA Presented by: UCLA Latin America Institute
This timely panel, moderated by: Lalo Alcaraz, (comic strip “La Cucaracha”, host KPFK “Pocho Hour of Power”) will address the issue of immigration as a civil rights crisis impacting the Latino immigrant community that has culminated with Arizona’s anti-immigrant law, SB1070.
Panelists: Esaú Meléndez, LALIFF Filmmaker, Director of IMMIGRANT NATION; José Jacques Medina, Federal Deputy, LX Legislature, 2006-09, Mexican Congress; Professor Justin Akers Chacon, San Diego Community College, Chicano Studies; Thomas Saenz, President & General Consul of MALDEF; Sebastian Cordero, LALIFF Filmmaker, Director of RABIA
Tuesday, August 24 5:00PM -7:00PM, Renaissance Hotel & Spa, 3rd Level, Hollywood & Highland, 1755 North Highland Avenue.
For tickets, Festival Passes (including Student Passes) and information about other panels and events go to www.latinofilm.org