Archive for the ‘FILMS’ Category


Anti-Argentine Campaign / Campana Antiargentina

Dir. Alejandro Parysow, Argentina, 2016, 104 min. colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Juan Gil Navarro, Valeria Correa, Paco Gorriz, Pablo Chao, Carlos Rivkin, Daniel Melingo

Leo J., a vapid, but immensely popular actor and singer, finds his champagne lifestyle interrupted when he inherits an old house. Searching through the dank and dilapidated ruins, he begins to uncover evidence of a sinister ‘Anti-Argentina Campaign’ that has dogged his own family, and the nation, over generations. Through a brilliantly balanced mix of slapstick, character comedy and political satire, the film critiques the notion of, ‘Campana Antiargentina’, which has been regularly resurrected ever since the era of the ‘Dirty War’, often to cover a multitude of sins. Yet, as we watch Leo J’s life descend into fear and obsession, we need to ask ourselves, ‘could it be true?’ As the Old Man of the Mountains put it ‘just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you’. Hilarious, queasy, unmissable.


The Wanted Child / El Hijo Buscado

Dir. Daniel Gagliano, Argentina, 2014, 82 min. colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Rafael Ferro, Maria Ucedo, Sofia Brito, Susana Varela, Nicolas Garcia, Omar Holz, Lali Gonzalez

After ten fruitless years spent trying to adopt through the official channels, Alvaro and Ana, both now entering middle age, have reached the point of desperation. After yet another setback, they decide their only recourse is to buy a baby on the black market. As Alvaro sets out on the perilous journey to the Brazilian border, leaving Ana to wait in trepidation, the mood darkens and events soon start to spiral out of control. A brooding, terrifying thriller, which lays bare the fault lines of a society in which money and privilege can prove powerless to fulfil the demands of the heart.

Mar del Plata International Film Festival – National Competition – Actriz revelación/ “Revelation Actress”; 11/2014; Argentina.

Mostra de Cinema Llatinoamericà de Catalunya – “Premio Radio Exterior de España”; 04/2015; Spain.


Boccaccerias Habaneras

Dir. Arturo Sotto, Cuba, 2014, 100 min. colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Zulema Cruz, Jorge Perugorria, Felix Beaton, Claudia Alvarez, Mario Guerra, Luis Alberto Garcia, Patricio Wood

A wickedly contrived portmanteau of three separate tales, all loosely based on stories from The Decameron, and held together by a linking narrative that features a burnt-out writer offering money in exchange for creative ideas.

Though Habaneras to the core, the stories are shot through with as much satirical and erotic energy as is to be found anywhere in Boccaccio’s seven hundred year old masterpiece.

Winner of the 2013 Havana International Film Festival Audience Prize for Best Screenplay, Boccaccerias Habaneras has rightly been hailed as representing a new dawn for the Cuban film industry. Certainly, it is difficult to imagine a funnier (or sexier) commentary on the social and cultural turbulence that characterises today’s Cuba, and the countless Boccaccerias it has surely given birth to.


Dancing With Margot / Bailando Con Margot

Dir. Arturo Santana, Cuba, 2015, 105 min. colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Mirtha Ibarra, Edwin Fernandez, Yenisse Soria, Niu Ventura, Max Alvarez, Jorge Enrique Caballero, Rolando Chiong

Havana, New Year’s Eve, 1958. A detective investigating the theft of a painting from the house of a wealthy widow, unearths a dark and tangled history, rooted in a pre-revolutionary past of cabaret decadence and shady Mafia, dealings (a world that, unbeknownst to the protagonists, is due to be swept away, in a few hours time, with the arrival of the Revolutionary Army in the city). Through masterly lighting, art-direction and location work, the film evokes the atmosphere of Havana in the1930s, 40s and 50s, with a huge wink to the conventions of Film Noir, (as well as more nuanced references to Latin American genres such as the Mexican Cine de Rumberas). Director Arturo Santana keeps a firm hold on the reins, ensuring that the film never becomes a mere exercise in style; a sure-footed script interpreted by a multi- talented cast, whisks us through a compelling human story, while the side-long, self-referential humour preserves a distance from any indulgence in romanticised nostalgia for what was, in fact, a brutal period in Cuban history. A must-see at the Festival this year!


Omega 3

Dir. Eduardo del Llano, Cuba, 2014, 74 min. colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Carlos Gonzalvo, Dailenys Fuentes, Omar Franco, Hector Noas, Edith Massola, Carlos Massola, Aramis Delgado

In a post-apocalyptic world, different factions contend in a bitter conflict – over what the surviving population should be eating. Arguably, it is a very Cuban question; and also typical is the ingenuity and imagination with which this future dystopia is evoked on a minimal budget. As in all great science-fiction, however, it treats universal themes: in this case, intolerance and dogma. For all that it is focused through the satirical lens of dietary fetishism, “Omega 3”, with its incisive script, assured performances and brooding visual style, manages to remain both thought- provoking and highly emotive. One of the most innovative films in this year’s Festival, and one that will stay with you long after you have left the theatre.


Chezz Game / Jodo De Xadrez

Dir. Luis Antonio Pereira, Brazil, 2014, 80 min. colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Priscila Fantin, Tuca Andrade, Antonio Calloni, Carla Marins

Street smart Mina, (Priscila Fantin ) is doing time for fraud in Rio’s notorious Talavera Bruce Penintentiary. With the backing of her close allies, Beth and Martona, she runs the prison’s trade in contraband goods; but this is not the source of her main problem. Sleazy Senator Franco (Antonio Calloni ) believes Mina knows too much about his part in the corrupt dealings that got her gaoled in the first place, and decides he must ensure her silence. He bribes the Governor (Tuca Andrade ) to engineer Mina’s death, and so begins a visceral struggle over who really owns the prison: Mina, or the criminals in charge? A tense and exciting thriller, with a cutting satirical edge.


The Longest Distance / La Distancia Mas Larga

Dir. Claudia Pinto, Venezuela, 2013, 93 min. colour, English subtitles. Cast: Carme Elias, Omar Moya, Alec Whaite, Ivan Tamayo, Isabel

Rocatti, Marcos Moreno An epic story of astounding compassion and beauty, a multiple award-winning film that has been widely credited with making Venezuelans fall back in love with their own country. Martina, a woman of sixty, is reeling from the news that she is terminally ill. She decides to undertake a last journey to Gran Sabana, a sublime wilderness, a place where she was once happy. Her plan is to climb the magnificent Mount Roraima; and never to come back down. Deep in her heart, though, she realises she will never be able to manage such a journey on her own. An unheralded visit from her grandson Lucas changes everything. Oblivious to his grandmother’s condition, he agrees to accompany her, little knowing that he is about to be confronted with her intention to end her own life. With stunning performances from Spanish actor Carme Elias, and Omar Moya as Lucas, this is truly the longest  journey – a journey from the chaos of 21st century Caracas, to one of the most ancient landscapes on Earth, and a journey from alienation and loss, to love and self-realisation.



Awards: Best Director, Best Cinematography, Special Jury Prize Ituzaingo International Film Festival
Dir. Rafael Escolar, Argentina, 2014, 87 min, colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Maximiliano Gallo, Magdalena Combes, Eva Bianco, Nora Hoffman, Roberto Videla, Jorge Monteagudo, Horacio Fierro, Laura Coronel, Hugo Ochoa

For many years Pascual has had to cope as sole carer to his mother. Now, on her death, he finds himself alone, and hospitalised, surrounded by ‘mad’ people, and desperate to escape. He contacts his long-estranged brother, pleading for rescue, but to no avail. The therapy he is offered seems ineffective, but, with time, he starts to reconnect with his own feelings, and with those around him. However, a crisis point is reached when he discovers that the family home has been sold, and all that is left to him in the world is his bicycle, and his distant brother. There seems to be only one course of action left. Although it deals with the rawest of emotions, and the extremes of human experience, this is an uplifting tale of the capacity of people to endure suffering, with the promise of redemption at the end of the road.



Dir. Fernando Molnar, Argentina, 2015, 78 min, colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Diego Peretti, Andrea Garrote, Pablo Seijo, Roberto Catarineu

After losing his job, Diego (Diego Peretti) is reduced to working for his uncle, selling apartments in a new development, while he and his family are forced to move from central Buenos Aires to the grim, outer suburb of El Tigre. Impelled by the outrage of his wife and teenage daughter at the change in their circumstances, he finds himself on a treadmill of endless commuting and long hours. As time passes, he gradually succumbs to an obsession with selling, just as his wife and daughter are growing away from him, transformed by their new environment. A darkly absurd tragi-comedy about the incongruities of the late-capitalist world, and its impact on the very foundations of identity and personal relationships. Recommended.

The Liberator - Libertador

Libertador / The Liberator

Dir. Alberto Arvelo, Venezuela / Spain, 2013, 119 min, colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Edgar Ramirez, Maria Valverde, Juana Acosta, Danny Houston, Imanol Arias

Libertador / The Liberator is an impressively scaled chronicle of the life and times of Simon Bolivar, heroe of South American anti-colonialist struggles in the early 19th century. This latest collaboration between “Carlos” star Edgar Ramirez and Venezuelan director Alberto Arvelo (following “Cyrano Fernandez”) is a respectable, sprawling endeavour that covers nearly three decades of tumultuous events says Variety Magazine.

The film journeys through the impassioned struggle of Simon Bolivar’s (Edgar Ramirez) fight for independence in Latin America from Spain and his vision of a united South American nation. With music composed by Gustavo Dudamel,  Libertador was one of the two Latin American films shortlisted for the 2014 Oscars.

Contigo Pan y Cebolla 2

Contigo, pan y cebolla

Dir. Juan Carlos Cremata, Cuba, 2014, 114 min, colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Alina Rodríguez, Enrique Molina, Edith Massola, Osvaldo Doimeadios, Alicia Bustamante

An adaptation of Hector Quintero’s irreverent, bittersweet play from 1962, “Contigo, Pan y Cebolla” (roughly, ‘together through thick and thin’) centres on Lara Fundora, the aspirational matriarch of a lower middle class family, in pre-revolution Havana, and her efforts at ‘keeping up appearances’ when faced with dire economic circumstances. Banking on her husband’s long awaited increase in salary, Lara buys the refrigerator they badly need; only to find that the pay rise never comes, and she has to manage to return the fridge, without losing face. The irony is that, in the fifty years since Quintero’s original stage hit, the effects of ‘austerity measures’ on the lives and dreams of ordinary working people are as devastating as ever: and not only in Cuba!


The first summer / O primeiro verao

Dir. Adriano Mendes. Potrugal, 2014, 105 min. colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Anabela Caetano, Adriano Mendes, Gracinda de Jesus, Teresa Caetano, Raquel Lopes

A highly intriguing mélange of rom-com and psychological drama, revolving around the love story of Isabel and Miguel. After they are first thrown together in the course of a driving lesson, they start to hang out, and then end up spending the summer locked in each other’s arms. With the coming of autumn, it is time for Miguel to pay an extended visit to his family, while Isabel agrees to stay and take care of his dog. However, on his return, their love for each other is about to be tested to its limits!

Vuelos Prohibidos

Forbbiden flights / Vuelos prohibidos

Dir. Rigoberto Lopez. Cuba, 2015, 105 min. colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Sanaa Alaoui, Pablo (FG) Fernandez Gallo, Daisy Granados, Mario Balmaseda, Manuel Porto

With a gracious nod to Hiroshima mon Amour, ’Vuelos  Prohibidos’ sets out to present a panoramic overview of Cuba’s development, from 1959 right up to the present day; (the film only recently premiered, in March this year, in Havana). The cancellation of flights from Paris, leads Mario and Monique (played by  singer Paulo Fernandez Gallo, and the Moroccan actor Sanaa Alaoui ), like the lovers in Resnais’ film, to explore together the conjunction of the personal and the political, while, behind their story, the film opens up to describe the impact of nearly sixty years of social change, on the Cuban people. This marks the return of Rigoberto Lopez (director of Roble de Olor)  to the big screen, with his declared intention of conducting ‘an honest dialogue with our reality’. With contributions from seasoned Cuban actors Daysi Granados, Mario Balmaseda, Manuel Porto, and others, this is powerful and seductive filmmaking that does not flinch from discussing some of the less palatable aspects of life as it is lived in contemporary Cuba.

Holy_Cow - La Vaca

Holy cow / La vaca

Dir. Mendel Samayoa, Guatemala, 2010, 95 min, colour, English subtitles
Cast: Tita Mendoza, Jorge Ramirez, Claudia Bollat, Jorge Sanz, Monica Walter, Angelo Medina, Herbert Meneses

The death of a famous American archeologist, Albert Frederick Thomas Jackson, in his adopted home town of San Pedro El Bajo in Guatemala, triggers a bizarre chain of events. For a start, not one but two wives suddenly materialised (an American called Betty Hooter and Soledad, a Guatemalan) with competing claims on the substantial estate left by ‘Mr.Thomas’.

Things take a stranger turn still when the will seems more concerned with the future of a cow (named Tracy) than the welfare of the wives. It appears that ‘Mr. Thomas’ wishes that, for the greater good, Tracy should become pregnant… and the disposal of his estate rests on this being achieved. For Betty and Soledad, the race is on to get Tracy ready for the bull and effectively serviced without delay…

An achingly funny screwball comedy from way leftfield, satirising the cultural schism between urban and rural Guatemala, as well as the even greater gap between reality and the word.

Not So Modern Times - Tiempos Menos Modernos

Not so modern times / Tiempos menos modernos

Awards: Pantalla Pinamar 201 1, INCAA, Winner of Balance de Oro Best Feature Film.
Dir. Simon Franco. Argentina / Chile, 2011, 95 min, colour. English subtitles.
Cast: Oscar Payaguala, Nicolás Saavedra.

Payaguala, a Tehuelche shepherd, lives a solitary and contented life in the wilds of Patagonia, indifferent to the mining and tourist industries gradually encroaching upon his world: until a visitor helps him to set up a solar-powered television (a ‘gift’ from the government). With a wry, satirical glee, the film explores the devastating consequences as Payaguala’s peaceful existence is gradually corroded by this un-looked- for new arrival.

El curador 1

El curador / The cure

Dir. Mario Tondato, Argentina, 2013, 94 min. colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Amalia Arias, Cane Aiello, Claudio Ferreto, Federico Poblete, Pablo Castro, Silvina Tondato Wilfredo Fernandez

Reales is an agricultural worker in Patagonia, where poverty and a lack of health care are not exactly ideal conditions for a man suffering from psychological trauma. Truly terrible events lie in his past; only, he cannot remember them. Unfortunately, his job spraying fruit orchards with pesticides is exposing him to an ever-increasing dose of toxic agro-chemicals. Slowly, his health deteriorates, starting with memory loss, but escalating inexorably to dark and terrifying hallucinations. A nightmare, white-knuckle descent into a world of delusion!