Films

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El curador / The cure

Dir. Mario Tondato, Argentina, 2013, 94 min. colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Mario Tondato….

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!

Roughneck / Boca de pozo

Dir. Simon Franco, Argentina, 2014, 82 min, colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Pablo Cedron, Nicolas Saavedra

Boca de Pozo tells the story of Lucho, an oil worker in Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina.

A bit of a roughneck, he finds little enough outlet for his energies in this artificial city, which has been developed to serve the needs of industry, rather than those of its human population. He could leave, of course; but the pay is just too good.

This tense and gritty tale is Simon Franco’s sixth feature film. His marvelous “Not So Modern Times” was a huge draw at LLAFF 2012.

Days of the Flowers

Dir. John Roberts, UK /Cuba, 2013, 99 min, colour, English subtitles.
Cast:Carlos Acosta, Eva Birthistle, Charity Wakefield, Christopher Simpson, Bryan Dick

Renowned dancer Carlos Acosta gives a sizzling performance in this laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from BAFTA award-winning director, John Roberts.

Two quarrelsome sisters must overcome their differences as they journey to Cuba to uncover the mysteries of their family’s past. But arriving in Havana, their plans soon go awry as they encounter romance and danger, in what will become a holiday they will never forget.

http://www.dayoftheflowers.com/

Black cat / gato negro

Dir. Mario Gaston Gallo, Argentina, 2014, 120 min, colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Luciano Caceres, Luis Luque, Leticia Bredice, Roberto Vallejos, Lito Cruz, Favio Posca, Juan Acosta, Paloma Contreras, Guillermo Arengo, Eduardo Cutuli, Sergio Surraco, Daniel Campomenosi

This is a penetrating account of one young life as it develops against a backdrop of the most turbulent period of Argentina’s recent history. Tito Pereyra’s story begins in the town of Tucuman, where he grows up without a father. The life decisions he makes, emerging into adulthood, are coloured by this background, as well as by the general darkness and undertow of violence implicit in the times. This is a portrait of a complex character, neither wholly bad nor good, which culminates in Buenos Aires, with the return of democracy in the 1980s.

Extirpador de idolatrias

Dir. Manuel Siles, Peru, 2013, 86 min, colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Oswaldo Salas,Waldo Mamani,Magaly Solier ,Paulina Bazán,Renato Gianoli
Diego Yupanqui, Augusto Casafranca, Oscar Ludeña,Fiorella Flores,Amiel Cayo, Julián Vargas
Firelei Barreda, Ana Arce, Diana Castro
Extirpador de Idolatrías.

This dark and compelling detective mystery is set against an unusual background: the Peruvian Andes, and a universe of indigenous supernatural beliefs. Two children nearing puberty, a boy and a girl, are preparing to participate in traditional rites of passage, in the course of which they are expected to commune with spirit creatures sacred to the religion practiced in some high Andean regions. However, a baleful shadow is cast over this peaceful ritual when it is violently interrupted by the arrival of the Extirpador de Idolatrías.  This self-styled ‘scourge of idolatry’, though pretending to be on a mission of pure faith, is actually a monster of religious intolerance.

Inspector Waldo, an introverted and irascible character with personal demons of his own, is tasked with investigating the growing string of crimes associated with indigenous ceremonies. Although hampered by the discriminatory attitudes of his high-handed boss, and dogged by inner conflicts that have troubled him all his life, Waldo is determined to track down and capture the deeply sinister ‘scourge of idolatry’. A unique, and hugely intriguing slice of Peruvian Noir.

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Hombres de cocodrilos

Dir. Livan Magdaleno, Cuba, 2013. 46 min, colour, English subtitles.

At the very southern tip of Matanzas province in the central region of Cuba, and just thirty eight kilometers from the infamous Bay of Pigs, is to be found the village of Cocodrilos. Here, where, the adverse natural conditions cry against any form of human habitation, its people have long fought against the elements with patience and dignity, struggling to survive in a precarious economic situation.

Neruda in the round

Dir. Colin Hobson, UK, 2013, 59 min, colour & b/w, English subtitles.

At London’s famous Roundhouse, in April 1970, the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda gave the only British recital of his ever to be filmed. Neruda In The Round incorporates a large part of this unique archive, with expert commentary to provide a moving insight into the genius of one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets.

His acclaimed biographer, Adam Feinstein, and Robert Pring-Mill, (Neruda’s close friend and a leading authority on his poetry), help to analyse and contextualise the work of this literary giant, who went on to become a Nobel Laureate.

Jogo de corpo/Body games. Capoeira and ancestry

Dirs. Richard Pakleppa, Matthias Rohrig Assuncao, Cinesio Pecanha (Mestre Cobra Mansa ), Brazil/South Africa, 2013, 87 min, colour, English subtitles.

Body Games is a documentary driven by Mestre Cobra Mansa’s desire   to understand fully the ancestral origins of his art form, Capoeira, and the place it occupies in his Afro­‐Brazilian heritage.  In Capoeira, the performers kick, spin and dodge to music that evokes Africa, the world of slaves and masters, and a mythical place called ‘Angola’.

We follow as Cobra Mansa pursues the mysteries of Capoeira in Rio, Bahia, and then on to Africa, where he uncovers astounding links with the spiritual and cultural traditions of the real Southern Angola: the Zebra Dance, ‘Engolo’, for example, and the hypnotic tones of the musical bow.

Through a dazzling exchange of Capoeira and native martial art forms, all enacted in the dusty villages of Angola, Cobra and his team begin to gain a real appreciation of the correspondences between these ancient combat games, sharing the same roots, though practiced an ocean apart.

They are we

Dir. Emma Christopher, Cuba/Sierra Leona/Australia, 2014, 78 min, colour, English subtitles.

Try not to miss this unique and inspiring documentary.

In Perico, Cuba, a local group has preserved the songs and dances that, long ago, were brought aboard a slave ship by their ancestor (known only as ‘Josefa’). In this way, they have kept alive the Afro-Cuban heritage of their community, throughout a long history of slavery, poverty, and repression. Years of painstaking research finally led filmmaker Emma Christopher to a remote village in Sierra Leone. There, people watching a recording of the Cubans’ ceremonies, joyously declared, “They are we!” and started to join in with the songs. Preparations then began, to welcome home their long lost cousins, with the biggest festival in the history of the village.

Chilean time / Hora chilena

Dir. Kip Loades, UK/Chile, 2013, 80 min, colour, English subtitles.

Marking the fortieth anniversary of the murderous Chilean coup of 1973, which led to the death or disappearance of thousands, Kip Loades’ documentary focuses on the hundreds of thousands more who were forced to flee the country, fearing for their lives. Chilean Time is a deeply moving reflection upon that most profound of exiles, which, for many, proved permanent; and also, upon the acceptance and kindness the refugees encountered in a land so far from home. In its evocation of one community’s expression of solidarity for another, the film reflects the timeless and universal story of those who have no choice but to seek refuge amongst strangers, and of those who welcome them in.

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

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/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.

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Eva

The story of feisty Cuban powerhouse Eva Tarr-Kirkhope, from her arrival in 1970s London with a mission to spread Latin American culture through cinema, to her status today as the unassailable doyenne of the London Latin American Film Festival. A documentary that mixes animation, actuality, a little bit of Cuba and a little bit of London, to unfurl a compelling story of determination and the love of art.

Tengo talento

Dir. Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi, Cuba/USA, 2014, 33 min. colour, English subtitles

TENGO TALENTO: Jennyselt Galata of Yoruba Andabo & Sailen (Afro Cuban Folklore):

Jennyselt is a dancer of Afro-Cuban Folklore, who enjoys an international reputation as well as enormous prestige within Cuba itself. She is currently dancing with the group Yoruba Andabo, and is on the lookout for a successor with the talent and commitment necessary to carry the traditions of Afro-Cuban dance culture forward into the future. Jennyselt takes us to Juanelo (a part of Havana rarely seen by tourists), and a community project that works to cultivate the skills and ambitions of the next generation of dancers. Will she find a youngster there, to whom she can pass on her legacy?

TENGO TALENTO: Yrak of Doble Filo & Darwin of Golpe Seko (Cuban Hip Hop):

World renowned rapper Yrak Saens (one half of the group Doble Filo, and a pioneer of Cuban Rap) takes to the streets to look for the next generation in Cuban Hip Hop. Travel with him, on the road from Havana to Santiago in his search for up and coming stars.

TENGO TALENTO: Julio Padrón and El Niño Jesus (Cuban Jazz):

Julito Padrón, one of the most outstanding trumpeters in Cuba, introduces us to a young man who, at only 15 years of age, is the master of a spectacular sound that promises to propel him to the heights of fame.

Marea / tides

Dir. Adam Breier, Cuba, 2013, 15 min, colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Yaite Ruiz, Marco Canizares, Carlos Solar, Juan F. Carreno

Camelia plans a trip to the beach, to celebrate her son Angel’s birthday. However, upset by the unexpected disappearance of his father, Angel runs away, and Camelia begins a search that will force her to confront the fragility of her family.

La muerte del gato

Dir. Lilo Vilaplana. Cuba / Colombia, 2014, 24 min, colour, English subtitles.
Cast: Jorge Perugorria, Alberto Pujol, Barbaro Marin

In Cuba, during the ‘Periodo Especial’ of 1989, three friends, Raul, Camilo and Armando, driven to desperate measures by the economic crisis, hatch a plan to kill the neighbour’s cat for meat.

El tiple

Dir. Ivan D. Gaona, Colombia, 2013, 16 min, colour. English subtitles.
AWARDS: Best Short Film; International Film Festival, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, 2013.
Cast: Pastor Moncada, Veronica Romero, Luz Marina Moncada, Gladys Sofia Garzon

Pastor’s wife has fallen desperately ill, and taken to her bed. He decides to go, in secret, to sell his beloved tiple (a musical instrument) in order to buy medicine for her. Afterwards, he arrives back home, heartbroken, only to find his wife’s condition has improved a little – if only he would come and play her a song on the tiple – she pleads. There’s nothing else for it… he will have to go and try to get it back again!

Drops of smoke / Gotas de fumaca

Dir. Ane Siderman, Brazil, 2013, 21.35 min, colour, English subtitles.
AWARDS: Araci Esteves. Best Actress; 18th NYC Picturestart Film Festival 2013, USA.
Audience Award; 12th Utah Arts Festival, Fear No Film 2013, USA.
Cast: Araci Esteves, Fernanda Moro, Marcos Veiza, Alexandre Cardoso, Bruno Krieger, Danielle Fogliatto, Cesar Vinicius Broeira

Bibi is a widow who lives alone in a small apartment, with just her cat for company. At the age of seventy, she has been content to retreat into her own little world, only talking to the neighbours every now and then. One day, though, she is persuaded to emerge from her isolation to come to Juliet’s aid. The two of them end up developing a poignant relationship based upon their shared loneliness, and a mutual dread of approaching death. A stark and deceptively simple tale, beautifully told.

Pinches mayas

Dir. Rafael Gutierrez Mercadillo, Mexico, 2014, 9.20 min, colour, English subtitles.

What do you do on the day before the world is going to end? If you are a seventeen-year-old virgin, like Bernardo, one answer suggests itself, immediately!

Perfect storm / Tormenta perfecta

Dir. Rafael Gutierrez Mercadillo, Mexico, 2014, 4,27 min, colour, English subtitles.

Perfect Storm is a video exploration of sensuality and emotion. The technique of translating word to image is used in this video poem, written by Eduardo Estala Rojas, to uncover the true nature of identity, and what can be achieved through self-belief.