Cine Las Americas
My schedule unfortunately prevented me from seeing everything that I wanted at Cine Las Americas (CLAIFF) last weekend, but I was still able to catch films here and there. Saturday morning took me to Alamo Drafthouse Village for Bobô, a Portugese film from writer/director Inês Oliveira. The movie is about Sofia, who has nothing in her life but the memories of her deceased brother and son. Things change when her mother sends her Mariama, a maid who helps make Sofia's life a little easier. The more these two women get to know one another, the more their friendship blossoms, each helping the other in a way they didn't think possible.
It was refreshing to see such a female-driven film, particularly in the writing. I have to hand it to CLAIFF for saluting female filmmakers during this festival, both in their programming and celebration of film. I was able to attend their Women In Film party on Saturday night, and was so excited to talk with fest staff members Keeley Steenson and Jean Lauer. We not only discussed the films we'd seen during the festival, we also talked about our views on female representation in Latino culture. It certainly made for a fun and educational Saturday night (two words I don't often combine to describe a Saturday night.)
My second day of Cine Las Americas took me to the Marchesa Theatre. I caught Amor chicano es para siempre (Chicano Love Is Forever), the second film of the three part series "Las Filmas: The Films of Efraín Gutiérrez." Considered to be one of the most influential filmmakers (if not the founder) of the Chicano film movement in the 70s, Gutiérrez's films explore what life was like for Latin American families during this time.
Set in San Antonio, Texas, the story follows a young Latino couple in their early years of marriage. What starts as a sweet, innocent romance slowly changes with the onset of work, college and marital stress. It takes its toll on our protagonist (Gutiérrez), but instead of turning to his wife for help, he seeks solace in beer, time away from home and the arms of another woman. Shot on 16mm film, the print shown was blown up to 35mm, making it the only 35mm screening this festival. (We were informed that this is the only known copy of this film, so that was also a treat.)
I'm once again thrilled to be covering this year's Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. It will always hold a special place in my heart, as it was the first festival I covered as a Slackerwood contributer about a year ago. This year's lineup brought Austin some unique and inspiring films, full of heart and talent from Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Chile and many others -- not to mention many films made right here in Texas.
I was sadly unable to attend the fest's opening-night film Tercera Llamada (Last Call), but from what I've read on social media and heard through the grapevine, it was one heck of a way to kick off the week. As per usual though, my festing adventures have taken me to the Alamo Drafthouse Village, one of my all-time favorite festival venues.
My film-fest watching started on Wednesday with the whimsical Brazilian movie O Menino e o Mundo (The Boy and the World), an animated film about a young boy searching for his father, who's left on a train. I was already hooked on the fact that it was an animated film, but the trailer combined with its flavorful Brazilian soundtrack sold me. (Note: If anyone can let me know where to get a copy, I will gladly purchase it!) The story itself has no dialogue, told solely through the young boy's view of the world. It's full of color, curiosity and an innoncence that made me reminisce about my own adolescence. By the end, I came to an astute realization: Children long to be adults, while adults long to be children again.
Cine Las Americas announced their full film lineup last week in preparation for their upcoming festival, which takes place April 22-27. his is the 17th year for the fest, and the list of events includes thought-provoking and unique films from all over the world.
The kickoff will take place Tuesday night, April 22 at 7 pm with the movie Tercera Llamada (Last Call) at the Marchesa Theatre. The story is based on a play written by director Francisco Franco in which a theater group goes through a challenging process in trying to stage the play Caligula for an international theater festival.
The Marchesa is one of four venues for film screenings this year, including the Alamo Drafthouse Village, the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center and the Jones Auditorium at the Ragsdale Center of St. Edward's University.
By Mireydi Mendieta-Nunez
The last day of the 2013 Cine Las Americas International Film Festival wrapped with Texas properly represented in the Hecho en Tejas (Made in Texas) program. Executive Director Eugenio del Bosque welcomed everyone in attendance, giving a speech about the importance of supporting the Austin filmmaking community.
Both independent and student filmmakers had the chance to premiere their work to festgoers. Seven short films were showcased, ranging from documentaries dealing with the U.S/Mexico border fence, to one by a UT student filmmaker showcasing her work from Andrew Garrison's East Austin Stories class.
Friday marked my last chance to catch some really great films from Cine Las Americas, although I sadly wished I had gotten a chance to take in more. I mentioned earlier how I tried to check out films from different genres. I decided to take it a step further for my last day to check out two types of movies I don't usually take in: a thriller and a documentary.
My thriller choice was The Second Death, a film about Alba, a cop trying to solve a murder mystery in a small town. The victims are discovered as being "burned from the inside out," found by the police with a rosary in their hands and positioned as if they were praying. When the clues and witness accounts start to incorporate religious undertones, Alba's faith and beliefs are tested (especially since she does not believe in God). The film has a great twist at the end, exposing the truth of the crime and how the local church was tied into it.
For me, days two and three of Cine Las Americas were spent at Alamo Drafthouse Village, indulging one too many times in items from the wide menu selection (I'm certain I've already gained ten pounds). I tried to make it a point to not only see films from different countries, but from different genres as well. Here's what I got to check out.
Wednesday afternoon gave me I Am a Director, a hilarious comedy about Carlos, a guy trying to make a Hollywood film with no money and no past experience. It reminded me of being in film school and meeting those dummies who thought they were the son or daughter of Spielberg himself, but didn't even know how to turn on a camera. Carlos is a lovable character, but you want so much to just slap him because he is so naively ignorant. Everything was spot on humor-wise though, and I imagine film students will probably laugh the hardest at this movie.
The evening then brought me 3 -- a story of a mother and daughter dealing with the consequences of the man who walked out on them years ago. Ironically, the father/husband, Rodolfo, wants to come back to be a part of their lives again many years later. The two women obviously felt the sting of his leaving and have dealt with it by not caring about what happens to them, living as roommates more so than as a family. Rodolfo cannot see that they hurt and act this way all because of his moving on with his life. There was a sadness to the story I hadn't seen before: the reality of losing trust and how we cope with the remaining scars. A very moving film, to say the least.
Tuesday night not only marked the opening night of the highly anticipated Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, but also the first festival that I get to attend as press. I arrived early, around 5:30, to get my badge and ticket to the opening-night film, Blancanieves.
In an effort to kill time, I met up with my friend Samantha Lopez for a drink and early dinner. Sam has screened films for CLAIFF for some time now, and filled me in on what to expect. The best part, she said, is not knowing what to expect, as each film was as different as the next. And with each of the films only screening once, one must choose wisely.
The screening kicked off with an encouraging speech from CLAIFF Executive Director Eugenio del Bosque Gómez, explaining what the team had planned and some small changes implemented this year. Film Program Director Jean Anne Lauer then joined him on stage to say how she knew that the movie we were about to see was their opening-night film immediately upon watching. I think this gave the audience and myself hope for what we were about to encounter.
It's unfortunate that Austin Jewish Film Festival and Cine Las Americas International Film Festival overlap for four days this week, but you can treat yourself to a whirlwind of images, stories, music, and themes by jumping back and forth between the two. AJFF is already underway (my preview). Cine Las Americas starts tomorrow night and runs through Sunday with a full and varied lineup.
You can buy film passes and tickets from the fest's website, or individual tickets at the theaters before the screenings (space available). Films at the Mexican American Cultural Center are free; other venues (where you need tickets) include Stateside at the Paramount and Alamo Drafthouse Village.
As it has since the initiation of each festival, Austin Film Society is co-sponsoring films in both fests. For Cine Las Americas we are helping to present a fascinating elegiac documentary, Carriere: 250 Metros (Juan Carlos Rulfo, Mexico, 2011) at Stateside Theatre on Thursday, April 18 at 7 pm. The director should be available for a Skype Q&A after the screening.
Austin's Cine Las Americas will run a free weekly film series from the last two weeks of January through the month of February. Films from Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina and Uruguay incorporate the mix of comedies from the previous decade. The series kicks off this Wednesday, January 23.
In their press release, Cine Las Americas calls the movies in this series "some of the finest comedies to emerge in Latin America in recent years, and each one of them defines a special moment in the cinema of their country. Dark humor and irony abound, with a sharp edge for social, political and cultural commentary."