Archive for the ‘DOCUMENTAIRES’ Category

El Corazon de Caracas_The Heart of Caracas - 01

The Heart of Caracas / El Corazon de Caracas

Dir. Simon Toro, Venezuela, 2013, 87 min, colour, English subtitles.

To open the Festival, an inspirational, feature length documentary.

Caracas, that complex and fractured metropolis, turbulent and contentious capital, has been much misunderstood throughout its long history, and is still the victim of gross misrepresentation, to this day. In this brilliant and multi-faceted documentary, director Simon Toro charts the economic, social, and political vicissitudes of the city across the centuries, unraveling the tangled narratives that have made for such a convoluted, present day reality.

With its incisive eye, the film lays bare the full reality of modern Caracas in its difficulty and division, and in its chaotic fecundity. For all the analytical clarity of its approach, Toro’s film also offers a committed and passionate vision for the future. Through growing social awareness, communal cohesion, and an organised, mobilised population, Caracas may look forward to a golden tomorrow.

Amazon Souls - 02

Amazon souls

Dir. Sarah Begun, UK, 2013, 30 min, colour, English subtitles.

Filmmaker Sarah Begum travelled into the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon to share the everyday lives of the noble and engaging Huaorani people. Her emotive documentary captures the beauty and resilience of a culture, which has endured in the heart of the rainforest, caught between the demands of modernity and a determination to preserve their ancient ways of living.

Begum immerses herself in the Huaorani culture while recording day to day activities as diverse as hunting with traditional techniques, weaving… and updating on Facebook. The enormous empathy and good humour shared between the filmmaker and her subjects, makes for a genuinely affecting portrait of a community, rather than just one more sombre anthropological survey.

Inevitably, perhaps, the film also focuses on the outside forces that threaten the continued existence of such a stable and enduring culture: oil interests, in this case. The warmth and joy  Begum experiences in her relationship with the Huaorani, only serves to throw this threat into even stronger relief.

586K Frontera (sin) Norte_North (less) Boarder

586k frontera (sin) norte/586k north (less) border

Dir. Juan Martin Cueva, Ecuador, 2011, 55 min, colour, English subtitles.

The never-ending, US backed, ‘War on Drugs’ continues to wreak havoc in the agricultural regions of Colombia. Juan Martin Cueva’s poised and beautiful film documents the plight of those forced to flee across the border into Northern Ecuador, to seek refuge from the now endemic paramilitary violence, and the continual aerial spraying, which, though aimed at destroying illegal coca plantations, kills food crops, too, and causes ill-health.

Through the eloquent testimony of native Ecuadorians and refugees alike, a vivid picture is painted of the social and economic turmoil that has resulted from this influx of the dispossessed into a region already prey to chronic underinvestment and widespread deprivation. Cueva turns the spotlight on one refugee crisis that, for decades, the world’s media have chosen to ignore.

Amidst all the fear and tension, however, there is some hope, and the desire for a return to peace and coexistence, between peoples from both sides of the border who, for generations past, have lived simply by tending the land.


Concoction / Mejunje

Dir. Juan Manuel Gamazo, Cuba/ Chile/ Spain, 2012, 71 min, colour. English subtitles.

Mejunje: a mix of various ingredients to form a substance.” Director Juan Manuel Gamazo, Spanish, educated in Cuba, makes the cultural centre in the Cuban town of Santa Clara the focus of his film, and invites us into the lives of a variety its patrons, ordinary people who help to make up the great cultural and social melting pot that is Cuba. The examination is intense and intimate capturing, through small gestures, the textures of everyday life and Gamazo establishes a perspective that steers well clear of both the critiques and the idealisations that are common in films that try to anatomise Cuban society.

What comes across powerfully is the need of the people to communicate, through music and other means, interpreted with insight and respect by the director in a quiet observational style that allows him to avoid a glib overview and, instead, delve deeply into the experiences of his subjects, perhaps even offering them new modes of expression in the process.


Stone of memory / Pedra de memoria

Dir. Renata Amaral, Brazil, 2012, 58min, colour. English subtitles.

Based on a fifteen-year research programme and the huge archive it has amassed, Stone of Memory vividly portrays the historical connections between Benin and Brazil, in large parts of which the vibrancy of West African tradition is still a major cultural force. The film reveals these intricate traditional bonds in a poetic dialogue featuring, most notably, the extraordinary memories of babalorisha Euclides Talabyan, one of the foremost guardians of the old religion in Brazil.


Through their eyes

Dirs. Bill & Esther Gentile, Cuba/USA, 57min, 2012, colour. English subtitles.

Bill Gentile, a US university lecturer, took advantage of the recent loosening of travel restrictions by his government, to take six of his students to study in Cuba for four months in late 2011. Together with his Cuban-born wife, Esther, he made Through Their Eyes, a documentary record of their experiences.

We get to know this diverse group of students as they explore Cuban society. Each changes in subtle but profound ways as the result of the time spent on the island — forbidden to most North Americans because of the decades-old economic embargo against Cuba.

Now, as the US administration starts to lift its bans on travel and trade to Cuba, and as the Cuban government opens its doors to capitalism, this film and the students’ experiences are a pertinent sign of things to come.


Unseen Colombia

Dir. Unai Aranzad, Colombia/Spain, 2012, 63min, colour. English subtitles.
Awards: Best Human Rights Film at Pasto Film Festival, Colombia.

President Santos inaugurates an international mega-project with champagne – while, just metres away, children who have been displaced by it die. General Reyes boasts that a guerrilla leader has been executed little knowing that, a few hours later, he will be forced to admit that it was the leader of an indigenous community who was put to death. A judge investigating members of the military for the rape and murder of children, dies mysteriously. Workers at a banana plantation have to risk their lives to assert their human rights. This brave and hard-hitting documentary attempts to challenge the impunity of these outrages against the people of Colombia.


Somewhere near Tapachula

Dir. Stefan Hunt, Mexico, 63 min, colour. English subtitles.
Awards: People’s Choice Award at Yallingup Surfilm Festival.

Somewhere Near Tapachula depicts the importance of love and support in the everyday lives of our youth. It provokes emotions ranging from sadness to joy, allowing for an instant connection with the story and its characters. An inspirational film that defines what it truly means to be given a second chance in life.

Pam and Alan, two natives of Australia are faced with a major decision whether to return to their native home or remain in Mexico to continue aiding with the street children problem of Mexico. Pam and Alan decide to remain in Mexico and they create Misión Mexico, which functions as an orphanage/refuge for children. This establishment provides the essential elements for children: love, education and support. Somewhere Near Tapachula focuses on how having a secure place has positively affected the lives of the children. In addition, it also spotlights on the development of surfing within the community and how it is used as an escape for the children to forget their past.


We women warriors

Dir: Nicole Karsin, USA / Colombia, 2012, 82 min, colour & B/W. English subtitles.

In Colombia’s war-torn indigenous villages, three brave women use non-violent resistance to ensure their peoples’ survival. Battles between guerrillas, paramilitary forces and the army particularly endanger Colombia’s one hundred and two aboriginal groups, dozens of which are even on the brink of extinction because of the violence.

Despite being trapped in the middle of a long drawn out genocide financed by the drug trade, native women in Colombia are creating and leading a transformation, imbued with resourcefulness and hope.

We Women Warriors bears witness to human rights catastrophes that have long been ignored and interweaves extraordinary character-driven stories of female empowerment, unshakable courage, and faith in the endurance of indigenous culture.


And the river flows on

Dir. Carlos Perez Rojas, Mexico, 2010,70min, colour . English subtitles.

This is the inspiring story of a long fight by peasant farmers, south of Acapulco, to prevent the Mexican government building a hydroelectric dam that would flood their lands. The campesinos, themselves, show us their lives, work and love for the land.


Dreaming Nicaragua

Dir: Marcelo Bukin. Nicaragua / USA, 2009, 60 min, colour. English subtitles.

Jafet, an art teacher, visits the most cruelly deprived communities in Nicaragua, inviting the children to express their dreams through their drawings. The documentary focuses on four of these children who, in the face poverty and illiteracy, still look to the future with laughter and with hope.


Cocaine unwrapped

Dir: Rachel Seifert. UK / Bolivia / Colombia / Ecuador / Mexico/ USA, 2011, 83 min, colour. English subtitles.

The ultimate example of unregulated, amoral, globalised commodity trading? The sheer human cost inflicted by the cocaine business, the charade of the US “War on Drugs”, and the ignorance of the average Western end user are all spelled out compellingly as the documentary follows the trail of blood from the producer countries, through Mexico, the S tates and the UK.


Daughter / Hija

Dir: María Paz González. Chile, 85 min, colour. English subtitles.

Director María Paz Gonzáles embarks on a thousand mile road trip across Chile, in the course of which she, and her mother try to piece together the truth about both their pasts from the fragments of fantasy and obfuscation they have always accepted as their real history . María wants to find her biological father, her mother hopes to be reunited with her sister. An assured piece of drama- documentary making, involving and beautiful.


With Fidel whatever happens

Dir. Goran Radovanovic. Cuba/Serbia, 201 1, 47 min, colour. English subtitles.

Three stories from the Sierra Maestra unravel on the day of the 52nd anniversary of the Cuban revolution. With no interviews or voice-overs, the image speaks eloquently for itself as scenes of celebration on TV contrast starkly with the experiences of the local people.


To dance like a man: triplets in Havana

Dir. Sylvie Collier . Cuba/UK, 201 1, 58 min, colour. English subtitles.

The astonishing, new rising stars of the Cuban National Ballet School are identical 11-year-old triplets, Angel, Cesar and Marco, who are almost indistinguishable in their talent, as well as their appearance. This is an unmissable documentary insight into the children’s own response to the rigorous discipline demanded of them, as well as a rumination on the amazing success story of Cuban ballet.


Behind the hills / Detras de las colinas

Dir: Samanta Yépez. Colombia / France, 2012, 42 min, colour. English subtitles.

Under President Alvaro Uribe Velez, the Colombian government offered soldiers a bounty for every guerrilla fighter they killed. Most of the bodies presented for payment turned out to be those of innocent peasants (known, euphemistically , as “Falsos Positivos”). The enormity of these crimes is revealed through testimonies from the families of the victims, whose murders remain unpunished.