Archive for the ‘2013’ Category


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.


Casa dentro

Dir. Joanna Lombardi Pollarolo, Peru, 2012, 87 min, colour. English subtitles.
Awards: Conacine Best Producion Award, Lima Peru. Conacine Distribution Award, Lima Peru.
Cast: Elide Brero, Delfina Paredes, Stepnanie Orue, Grapa Paola, Annaliese Fiedler, Giovanni Ciccia.

Questions with no answers, emotional barriers and locked doors pervade Joanna Lombardi’s intriguing and mysterious feature film Casa Dentro. In the home of the aged Senora Pilar, who lives with her housekeeper and maid, a visit from relatives evokes strained emotions, buried histories and painful memories. These, however, go unvoiced, swallowed up by the deadening domestic routine of the house.

Lombardi makes every scene count: building the tension with lengthy tableaux, she uses day to day life as the backdrop for a complex and emotionally challenging exploration of mother- daughter relationships spanning four generations of women. A home, a refuge, a cage, a prison – what goes on inside this house is kept under lock and key.


A map for love

Dir. Constanza Fernandez, Chile, 2012, 81 min, colour. English subtitles.
Cast: Moro Andrea, Francisca Bernardi, Romano Kotto.

Roberta lives in Santiago with her young son and enjoys an intense relationship with Javiera, a free-spirited actress, philosopher, singer and erotic performer. Roberta’s life would be perfect if it were not for the fact that her conservative and domineering mother, Ana, does not really approve of her daughter’s life as a lesbian… and certainly does not approve of her relationship with Javiera.

In an optimistic attempt to remedy the situation, Roberta decides to invite the two women in her life to join her on a sailing trip. Trapped together in the confines of a tiny yacht with a Pacific storm raging around them, the three women are forced to confront their differences and try to work together to survive this calamitous, oestrogen-fuelled voyage.

With a cast of brilliantly delineated comic characters, a biting script and a dash of Latina flair, director Constanza Fernández entertainingly explores the struggles we go through to understand those we love and those who love us.


Adrift /A la deriva

Dir. Fernando Pacheco, Argentina, 2012, 65 min, colour. English subtitles.
Cast: Daniel Valenzuela, Juan Palomino, Julian Stefan, Mariana Medina, Monica Lairana.

Ramón lives a simple and serene life in the Argentinean countryside but faced with unemployment and family responsibilities he finds himself seduced by the promise of easy money that drug trafficking offers. Against a background of beautifully photographed landscapes a brooding drama emerges as Ramón attempts to navigate his own moral conflicts and, at the same time, maintain a troubled friendship with his partner in crime Antonio (a loose cannon who rapidly falls out of favour with their dealer bosses). A La Deriva raises stark issues of survival, family, masculinity and responsibility, played out in an atmosphere of uncertainty and lurking violence. The result is a compelling and subtly textured thriller.


Calloused hands

Dir. Jesse Quinones, UK / USA, 2013, 97 min, colour. English subtitles.
Cast: Andres Royo, Daisy Haggard, Indra Patel, Hans Howes, Luca Oriel, Sean McConaghy.

Bert dreams of being a baseball star, a millionaire, a success, a somebody. The reality is different: he is broke, insecure, addicted and his violent mood swings have a devastating impact on everyone around him. He tries to take twelve year old Josh, his partner’s son, under his wing, desperate to be the supportive and encouraging father figure he never had himself: but he only knows how to push Josh towards the goals he had hoped to achieve in his own life.

This oppressive and domineering character is brilliantly played by Andre Royo, who ably portrays the positive, as well as the powerfully negative, aspects of Bert’s personality, creating a fully rounded and convincing character and adding immense emotional weight to the unfolding story.

What could be a thoroughly depressing tale of violence, broken homes and shattered relationships, gradually transforms into a narrative of redemption, love, commitment and support. Uncomfortable, unsettling, sobering and, at times, genuinely uplifting, Calloused Hands is a masterpiece of emotive storytelling.