Cine Las Americas

Slackery News Tidbits, Nov. 10

Tattooed Under FireHere are a few of the Austin-related, movie-related news items that have been floating around recently:

  • Nancy Schiesari's documentary Tattooed Under Fire (pictured at right) airs on KLRU on Tuesday, November 10 at 9 pm. Tattooed Under Fire is about the stories and secrets that Fort Hood soldiers share while getting tattoos. Schiesari is a professor in Radio-TV-Film at The University of Texas in Austin.
  • I'll Come Running, directed by former UT Austin instructor Spencer Parsons, is now available to watch via IFC On Demand. The film played Austin Film Festival in 2008 and was shot in Austin and Denmark. Melonie Diaz stars as a young woman who befriends a Danish tourist and forms an unusually strong connection. Jette recommends it.
  • Cine Las Americas will host its 2010 season kickoff and happy hour fundraiser on Tuesday, November 17 at Malverde. All proceeds benefit the 13th Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, including 10 percent from diners at La Condesa after the happy hour. 

AFF09 Daily Dispatch: Day Two

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AFF09Patrick-1651I wasn't gonna do this, really. This was the festival where I was gonna take a back seat. But despite having to start late yesterday and today, I can't help but do a daily dispatch. So here goes day two. 

I missed all the panels. I didn't even get to the fest in time to do anything but hop on a shuttle to the French Legation for the annual Texas BBQ, only to find out that while the shuttles started running at 4 pm, we absolutely could not step foot onto the grounds until 5 pm (there was a wedding, that would have been rude).  As it turns out, it's quite a popular spot for weddings, because one of the filmmakers had his wedding there. 

This was prime social time.  Ran into friends like Patrick Sullivan (pictured right) who is a screenplay competition finalist, and Rich Vázquez from Cine Las Americas. Later I sawSkot Tulk from aGLIFF, and finally had a chance to meet PJ Raval, who is very busy these days, and associated with many of the Austin film organizations. They introduced me to Mike Washlesky, who in turn introduced me to Craig Knapp, whom he worked with on Hockey Night in Texas.  So Jette, you don't have to keep saying I need to meet PJ, because now I have. 

It's a good thing the barbecue ended when it did, because they ran out of plates, glasses and beer before the official end time. but that meant I got back to the Driskill in time to catch Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire at the Paramount.  That movie really needed a Q&A. It's very powerful and very challenging, and had some incredible performances. I'm jumping on the Mo'Nique Oscar Bandwagon now, because her final scene is deserves accolades. Amazing. And looking on IMDb I see that director Lee Daniels was a producer on The Woodsman, another bravely disturbing film that tackles the complex miasma behind some darker human behaviors.

Free Classic Mexican Horror Movies at the Mexican American Cultural Center

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The Living CoffinCine Las Americas has teamed up with Austin Parks and Recreation and the Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) for another free film series. Earlier this year, during the Cine Las Americas film festival, all films shown at the MACC were free, including Crude, which is currently at the Arbor.

The new series is "La Hora Fria: Classic Mexican Horror," and will run from October 21 to November 6, 2009, with all shows starting at 8 pm. It's a great way to prepare for Day of the Dead. The series is part of the Mexican Bicentennial celebrations, and will showcase a collection of Mexican horror from the late 1950s. These six films reinterpret classic horror such as Dracula and Frankenstein as well as Mexican folk tales such as La Llorona.  All films are in Spanish with English subtitles. 

For more information about the "La Hora Fria: Classic Mexican Horror" series, visit the Cine Las Americas website.

Cine Last Americas Day 9: Tear This Heart Out

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Cine Las Americas 2009

After nine days of over 100 films from 18 countries, I now understand why one Austin filmmaker told me Cine Las Americas is her favorite film festival. With a lineup as diverse as any other festival in Austin, Cine Las Americas closed with a complex film that ended the fest with an impact.

The closing-night film, Arrancame la vida (Tear This Heart Out) sold out, to the point where the Alamo had to pull out folding chairs to fit people in the theater. Still, some very disappointed people were turned away.

Director Roberto Sneider attended the screening. You can see him in the above photo surrounded by Cine Las Americas programmer Jean Lauer, CLA Executive Director Eugenio del Bosque, and Francisco Cossio.

Cine Last Americas Day 8: Juan Frances, el Superstar

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Juan FrancesRecovering from the nine-day Cine Las Americas film festival has taken some time, and it's past time to finish up.

Wednesday night's lineup included Juan Frances: Live, a music mockumentary focused on identity and family. The film takes aim at stereotypes via its main subject, a balding white guy who was raised by a Mexican family. Born Jonathan French, and raised by his nanny after the news that his parents died, Juan was "blessed by the Virgin" with the gift of song. After being discovered at a talent show, he skyrockets to fame and fortune, only to face a crisis of identity.

Director Amy French co-wrote the script with her brother Spencer John French (who played the lead) based on their experiences growing up in the bilingual neighborhood of Echo Park. They were apparently fearless. Some of the humor would be brave for a Mexican-American to pen, but for two white people, it's exceptional. Juan working eight jobs, all classic work for Mexicans in America, is the mildest. When Juan is so far gone he defiles sacred images, instead of losing the audience, the laughs just got louder.

Cine Las Americas Day 7: Made in Texas

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Cine Las Americas MarqueeCine Las Americas began as a showcase of Latino film, and in a border state with a large Latino community, it's not surprising that the fest has established a category for films made in Texas. The Hecho en Tejas category included a shorts showcase and two feature length documentaries this year.

The shorts showcase contained a healthy mix of documentary and narrative, and featured productions by not a few students at UT Austin's Radio-TV-Film program.

Los ojos de Javier (The Eyes of Javier), is directed by Sergio Carvajal. Created for the The Coalition of Texans with Disabilities' Cinema Touching Disabilities festival, Los ojos de Javier is about a young man who wakes up to find his eyes have deserted him. In his quest to find his eyes, Javier encounters three wise men who guide him through his journey. It's an interesting take on experiencing disability and changing perspective. Shot around Austin with a four-man crew who also took on screen roles, with a budget of $50, it's a good example of the creativity afforded by a microbudget. You can read an interview with Carvajal and watch the short yourself on the Short Film Texas site.

Cine Las Americas Day 6: Chilean Cinema of the Post-Dictatorship Era

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Cine Las AmericasThis year, Cine Las Americas is starting a guest country retrospective and selected Chile as the inaugural guest country. Focusing on Chilean cinema from 1994-2004, the selection is as diverse as the rest of the festival's programming.

After the 17-year reign of General Augusto Pinochet, democracy was restored to Chile in 1990. The Pinochet era consisted of notorious oppression, censorship and torture. It's not surprising that post-Pinochet Chilean cinema reflects the context of the consequences of their recent history, as seen in Amnesia, directed by Gonzalo Justiniano in 1994.

Written by Justiniano and Gustavo Frias, Amnesia starts as a serious drama, but smoothly transitions into an existential exercise of torturer versus tortured, and to what lengths someone would, or should, go to avenge themselves, and forgive those who trespass against them.

Cine Las Americas Day 5: Different Kinds of Family Film

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Nora's Will

Normally when the word "family" is used to describe a film, it's used to describe a target audience that includes small audiences. At Cine Las Americas, it means the story focuses on a family, often with mature themes.

Two of the strongest films in the narrative feature lineup include Postales de Leningrado (Postcards from Leningrad) (dir. Mariana Rondon, Venezuela) and Cinco dias sin Nora (Nora's Will) (dir. Mariana Chenillo, Mexico), both of which are family themed, but which deal with family matters quite differently.

Postales de Leningrado is a whimsical interpretation of the darker consequences of living in interesting times, particularly 1960s Latin America and the era of rebels versus regimes. Instead of focusing on lovers, friends, or enemies, writer/director Rondon's story is told by a young girl and focuses on her cousin and her parents. The film could easily be a chaotic melange of first person, third person, animation and still images both past and present. However, the narration helps makes it an endearing tale that manages not to break your heart while telling heartbreaking stories.

Cine Las Americas Day 4: 18 Countries in 9 Days

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Cine Las Americas MarqueeFriday's lineup was a theme of extremes, starting with Cruzando (odyssey to confront a father at all costs), Stranded (survival in extremis), Gasolina (explosive teenagers), and the dark and twisty Breaking Nikki. I'm not entirely sure how good it all was, but it sure was dark, because the digital projection was not the state-of-the-art 4K at Alamo Village. The difference between old-school and new-school digital projection is astounding.

Fantastic Fest is co-sponsoring a screening next week of a Fantastic Fest favorite, Santos, but in the meantime more fantastic style goodness occurs tonight. Perro Come Perro (Dog Eat Dog) is a gangland thriller mixed with black magic that plays at Regal Metropolitan at 10 pm). It's followed at midnight by Sangre eterna (Eternal Blood), a 2002 Chilean vampire flick -- with the filmmaker in attendance, Austin's horror fans should go.

The Austin Jewish Film Festival is co-sponsoring a screening tonight of Cinco Dias sin Nora (Nora's Will), a comedy from Mexico in both Spanish and Hebrew. The film screens at Metropolitan at 8 pm.

Cine Las Americas Day 3: Don't Fear the Subtitle

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Sangre EternaIt's day three of Cine Las Americas, and the start of the weekend. If you're considering seeing films this weekend, why not check out the festival? This weekend alone brings us 74 films representing 14 out of 18 countries, and a lot of different genres, so there's something for everyone.

If you want to get your horror on, there's Sangre eterna (Eternal Blood), one of the Chile retrospective films. The film (pictured at right) includes an abandoned house, vampires and a character named Dahmer. Sangre eterna is playing Saturday at Regal Metropolitan at 11:59 pm.

Are veterans' affairs important to you? Check out Animas perdidas (Lost Souls) tonight at 7 pm at the MACC. The film is free and the filmmaker will be there.

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