17th LLAFF 2007



7pm Wed 14th, RENOIR
Cast: Enrique Santiesteban, Reynaldo Miravalles, Rene Sanchez, Ana Vinas,
Pilin Vallejo, Idalberto Delgado.

Award of the Society of Filmmakers of the USSR presented at the III. International Film Festival in Moscow 1963.

Following the revolution in Cuba, property belonging to the bourgeoisie was confiscated. Hipolito learns from his mother-in-law, on her deathbed, that she had hidden her jewels in one of the twelve English chairs which formerly stood in the Blue Salon of her villa. Hipolito wastes no time in going to search for them. In the villa itself (which now serves as a retirement home) he draws a blank. He runs into Oscar, one of his mother-in-law’s former servants, and they join forces in their quest. Little do they know that they have a dangerous rival, in the person of the priest to whom his mother-in-law had confessed her secret! An outrageous classic of Cuban cinema.


9pm, Mon 12th, RENOIR
Dir: Lucia Puenzo, Argentina/ France/Spain, 2007, 86 min, Colour.

Cast: Ricardo Darin, Valeria Bertuccelli, German Palacions, Carolina Pelleritti, Martin Piroyansky, Ines Efron, Guillermo Angelelli, Cesar Troncoso, Jean Pierre Reguerraz

Bangkok International Film Festival 2007: Golden Kinnaree Award: Best Picture
Edinburgh International Film Festival 2007: New Director’s Award

Hitting puberty is never a stroll in the park but Alex faces a personal dilemma that surpasses most sources of teenage angst. Is she to be male, or female? This is, ostensibly, a sensationalist theme but Lucia Puenzo’s film explores a subject which is little discussed; mainstream society’s attitude to the millions of inter-sex children born every year and the choices which face them and their parents as they grow up. Acute performances (especially by the younger cast members) are complemented by an admirably stripped – down visual style which allows the characters to externalise their complex emotions, around identity and sexuality, through minimal dialogue (a trick often missed in cinema). The film passes through melodrama to a more lyrical portrayal of the openness and tolerance of youth, in contrast to the already crystallised attitudes of the adults who attempt to map their own insecurities and concerns over status onto the lives of their children.


7pm, Sat 10th, RENOIR
Dir: Dirk Boll, Brazil, 2006, 99 min, Colour.

Cast: Joyvan Guevara, Joel Antonio Dieguez, Jack Attack, Adrian Monzon, Michel Matos, Lazaro Gonzales, Carlos Hernandez, Melvin Rocco, Abel Aguila.

Nearly fifty years on from the Revolution, a new literacy campaign is setting out from the capital. Havana’s DJ-Guerrilleros aim to spread the word to the rest of the island… about electronic dance music. Seventeen people have gathered together to help carry out this noble mission: but where’s the bus?

THE TOAST /El Brindis

7pm, Fri 9th, RENOIR
Dir: Shai Agosin, Chile/ Mexico, 2007, 100 min. Colour.

Cast: Ana Serradilla, Pepe Soriano, Francisco Melo, Teresita Reyes, Pablo Krogh, Alejandro Trejo, Jenny Cavallo.

The Toast tells the story of a Mexican woman who after many years of separation from her old Chilean father receives an invitation to visit him and his new family in Chile. In the course of this journey, she meets and starts an illicit relationship with the rabbi who is on his way to prepare her father for his (very late in life) Bar Mitzvah. The charming quirkiness of the story belies the emotional depth of a film which digs deep into the tangled relationships of three disparate characters in Search of meaning at critical turning points in their lives.

FOREIGNER /Extranjera

6.30pm, Sat 17th, MAYFAIR
Dir: Ines de Oliveira Cezar, Argentina, 2006/7, 80 min, Colour.

Cast: Carlos Portaluppi, Agustina Munoz, Eva Bianco, Aymara Rovera, Agustin Rittano, Maciej Robakiewicz, Agustin Ponce.

In the middle of a vast, drought-stricken region of the Argentinean badlands a man has decided that the only way to bring the rains and save the town is to sacrifice his daughter.

This extraordinary tale, half Greek tragedy half political parable, is played out over the course of a single day, with an intense and unblinking examination of the emotions and reactions of the small cast of characters, an inexorable narrative drive leavened by the use of multiple points of view.

The desert itself is integrated into the story, almost as a character in its own right. The vast, primal landscape of stony wilderness and the animals that inhabit it are brought into vivid focus through a combination of brilliant cinematography and editor Ana Poliak’s intelligent montage.

The film thus produces a beautiful, yet implacable, backdrop to the human drama, as it unfolds, raising profound questions over the aesthetics of violence and the inescapable nature of suffering.

The inherent fatalism of the narrative, however, does not preclude the possibility of renewal arising from destruction and this timeless story ends by holding out hope for the future of humankind.

CITIES AND LOVE /El Amor y La Ciudad

9pm, Tues 13th, RENOIR
Dir: Teresa Costantini, Argentina, 2005, 104 min, Colour
Cast: Patrick Bauchau, Teresa Costantini, Adrian Navarro, Jean Pierre Noher, Vera Carnevale, Joan Pierre Reguerraz, Jose Palomino Cortez, Claudia Lapaco.

Youth and age, attachment, abandonment, past, present, wealth and poverty, desire, frustration, the fictional and the real world, Buenos Aires and Paris. The mass of binary oppositions is focussed in upon a microcosm; the small world of a shared apartment in an eerie and desolated version of Buenos Aires.

Juana shares a flat with Elisa and Elisa’s lover Sebastian (younger than she) who deals in antique books. As Elisa’s frustration about her life and her relationship mounts, there is a mysterious phone call from a man in Paris and, shortly afterwards, Elisa vanishes without a trace. Thus abandoned, Sebastian turns to a relationship with the vulnerable, young Juana, a struggling artist.

Teresa Costantini stars and directs in this, the second of her films to be screened at the London Latin American Film Festival. It is an elegiac waltz through The City with its piled up edifices, secrets hidden behind closed doors, its amalgam of dynamism and alienation. The characters, always deeply lonely, play around with one another, failing to understand that their yearnings are not real and that the real emptiness resides within themselves.


9pm, Fri 9th, RENOIR
Dir: Esteban Sapir, Argentina, 2007, 90 min, Black and White.

Cast: Valeria Bertuccelli, Alejandro Urdapilleta, Julieta Cardinali, Rafael Ferro, Florencia Raggi, Sol Moreno, Jonathan Sandor, Ricardo Merkin, Raul Hochman.

Esteban Sapir’s ravishing second feature draws upon the imagery of the silent film, particularly German Expressionism, to satirise (like Pabst and Murnau before him) a society in the grip of madness. Through its wonderful art direction and cinematography it conjures up the dark atmosphere of The City Without a Voice, patrolled by nightmare visions and firmly in the thrall of “Mr. TV”; a plutocrat whose aim is to control every aspect of the citizen’s lives by creating a totalitarian, consumer society. To head off the growing revolt against him, Mr. TV creates a distraction by kidnapping a beautiful singer (the possessor of the last dissident voice in The City).

Although it possesses the narrative force of a classic fairytale, “The Ariel”, nevertheless; integrates, beautifully, a range of highly filmic ideas and conventions Lighting, camerawork cutting non-diegetic text are all deployed in a masterful display of style and technique. The result is the evocation of an utterly compelling fictional world, a dystopia which will be uncomfortably familiar to any audience: but here the possibilities of revolt are explored, too, through witty, knowing and optimistic filmmaking.


9pm, Sat 10th, RENOIR
Dir: Tamae Garateguy, Santiago Giralt, Camila Toker, Argentina, 2007; 97 min, Colour and Black and White.

Cast: Tamae Garateguy, Santiago Giralt, Camila Toker, Hildeunn Waerness, Florencia Braier, Silvina Acosta, Daniel Fanego, Gloria Carra, Hector Diaz.

International and Independent Film Festival Buenos Aires, Argentina 2007:
Best Film BAFICI 2007, Best Film ACCA 2007
Tandil Cine 2007: Best Film, Best Actress, Best Actor.

Upa! is the story of three young Argentinean filmmakers who are handed the opportunity to make their debut feature with the aid of development money from a Norwegian film festival. Their delight soon starts to fade, however, as the problems and compromises inherent in the production start to mount up.

This is a very funny and savagely self-reflexive satire on conditions within the New Argentine Cinema, as well as the Argentinean artistic class, more generally, still in thrall, as it is, to European culture. Classic Scandinavian cinema and the French New Wave are pastiched throughout and the whole thing is strung together with a lively Post-Dogme visual style.

Though self-conscious and clever, Upa! is saved from merely laughing up its own sleeve by an astringent script and genuinely engaging performances by its youthful leads. An assured, richly woven first feature from directors Tamae Garateguy, Santiago Giralt, Camila Toker and a really rewarding watch.


6.30pm, Tue 13th, RENOIR
Dir. Humberto Solas; Cuba/Spain; 1986; 104 min; Colour and Black and White.

Cast: Cesar Evora, Raquel Revuelta, Daisy Granados, Jorge Trinchet, Mabel Roch, Carlos Cruz, Miguel Navarro, Omar Valdez, Angel Torano, Angel Espasande.

1988 Goya Awards: Nominated: Best Foreign Spanish Film
1986 Havana Film Festival: Best Production Design
1986 Havana Film Festival: Grand Coral First Prize
1987 Moscow International Film Festival: Golden Prize

The culture and politics of Cuba in the era spanning 1929 to 1959 is brought vividly to life through the story of two brothers from one of Cuba’s wealthiest families and the differing paths they choose to take.

Dario Arguelles, one of two sons on whom the future of the family rests, remains faithful to his socialist-revolutionary ideals. He fights in the Spanish Civil War with the International Brigades and later becomes editor of a left wing newspaper. Javier, also a Leftist in his youth, cynically plays the political field and becomes an unscrupulous and self-serving Senator. The scene is set for a fatal collision of ideologies and ideals between the two sides of the family, a metaphor for the wider tragedy which is to grip Cuban society and which is only, finally, resolved, by the success of the Revolution.


6.30pm, Mon 12th, RENOIR
Dir: Humberto Solas, Cuba, 1982, 113 min, Colour.

Cast: Eslinda Nunez, Cesar Evora, Silvia Planas, Andres Hernandez, Oneida
Hernandez, Gerardo Riveron.

Havana 1914. After the death of her wealthy father, a former slave trader, Amada is now trapped in a loveless marriage with her unfaithful husband Dionisio, sharing the family villa with her blind mother and an old servant. Temptation arrives in the form of her younger cousin, Marcial, a journalist devoted to the cause of freedom and social justice. This meeting, after many years, stirs deep passions within her and she dreams of running away with him to start a new life.

Dionisio forces his mother-in-law to terminate the leases of the native tenants and to sell lock, stock and barrel to American interests. He argues that only by so doing can she hope to maintain her lifestyle. Thus, both sexual and political tensions boil over as the desperate, dispossessed farmers stage a hunger strike and march on the villa.


4pm, Sat 17th, MAYFAIR
Dir: Federico Hidalgo, Canada, 2006, 87 min, Colour.

Teresa, a sorrowful Mexican girl, played by stunning actress Vanessa Bouche of “Amores Perros” fame, is pursuing a man. The only thing we know about him is his name: Angel. In the course of her quest, she happens upon Fenton, a grocery store shelf filler who finds himself attracted to the mysterious and lonely Teresa. By way of subterfuge he manages to persuade her that he can help her to find the elusive Angel.

This charming couple embark on their determined search, right across the city of Montreal coming across strange characters offering contradictory information that complicates the narrative with comic and tragic divertions. On this way, the past starts to come to light in a confused and ambiguous way, with Teresa’s obstinate secret creating strain and uncertainty until the very last minute.


4.30p, Sun 11th, RENOIR
Dir: Humberto Solas, Cuba, 2005, 105 min, Colour.

Cast: Luisa Maria Jimenez, Rafael Lahera, Adela Legra, Mario Limonta, Jorge
Perugorria, Sheila Roche, Isabel Santos.

Cartagena Film Festival 2006
Golden India Catalina, Best Supporting Actor: Mario Limonta
Golden India Catalina, Best Supporting Actress Luisa Maria Jimenez
OCLACC Award Humberto Solas
Nominated Golden India Catalina, Best Film

The outstanding “Barrio Cuba”, the latest feature from the great Humberto Solas (Miel para Ochun, Un hombre de Exito), stars Isabel Santos and Mario Limonta.

Comic and tragic by turns, it navigates the complicated twists in the relationships of three sets of characters, all living from day to day in a poor area of Havana. Never ignoring the political, this film is, nonetheless, a deeply moving account of the human longing for love and meaning, in the midst of hardship. The power of dreams, set against the realities of life, is the theme for this humane examination of longing, disappointment and redemption. Delicate scripting and wonderfully observed performances make for a luminous film which explores the darkest depths of experience, as well as its most sublime heights.



6.30pm, Thurs 15th, RENOIR
Dir: Jerome Laperrousaz, France/USA, 2006, 90 min, Colour.

This is the long awaited and hugely ambitious feature documentary from Jerome Laperrousaz which charts the rise of Reggae from its humble

beginnings to the massive international, cultural force it is today. An unprecedented array of interview material from the Roots aristocracy

(Gregory Isaacs, Bunny Wailer, Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, to mention just a few) is underscored by a throbbing, classic soundtrack.

The film also comes up to date with the Dancehall artistes who are continuing to transform the genre with an amalgam of social commentary and blistering sexuality.

The film itself is a visual feast, taking in the variety and beauty of the island of Jamaica and its people from Kingston to the Blue Mountains. For all fans of the Music, this is the biggest party in town.


1.30pm, Sun 11th, RENOIR
Dir: Nicolas Prividera, Argentina, 2007, 150 min, Colour and Black & White.

In his first feature-length documentary, director Nicolas Prividera bravely revisits the Montoneros guerrilla movement in Argentina and the subsequent massacre of the “disappeared” (among whom is numbered Prividera’s own mother).

This is a hugely important film about the period which is still nigh on impossible to talk about, yet which represents a gaping open wound in Argentinean society to this day. It is part of the ever growing chorus of voices calling for these appalling crimes to be uncovered, finally, and faced up to and for the victims to be honoured.

M is for Mama, for Muerte for Montoneros and for Memory.


6.30pm, Fri 16th, MAYFAIR
Dir: Muriel Brener, France, 2006, 80 min, Colour.

The Cyrulnik conception of resilience holds that any child, however badly damaged by their early life, can grow into a happy and fulfilled adult, once they find themselves in a loving and supportive environment. Muriel Brener’s film is an uplifting insight into the lives of three such people, Hugo, Gustavo and Delia, living under the aegis of NGO “Enda Bolivia” in the El Alto district (the poorest in La Paz). Observing, in an impressionistic style, their everyday activities in Enda Bolivia and hearing them in interviews describing, with enormous wit and generosity, the pain and endurance of their early lives, one is left with a powerful impression of the human capacity to heal and grow even in conditions of the utmost cruelty and inequity.


9pm, Thurs 15th, RENOIR
Dir: Manuel Perez, Cuba, 2006, 52 min, Black & White.

This detailed and fascinating documentary takes a long, hard look at the life of a man who became an icon. Ernesto Rafael Guevara de la Serna was born in Argentina to middle-class, liberal, parents. He was studying medicine at the University of Cordoba when he embarked on his famous motorcycle odyssey through South America.

After completing his medical studies and witnessing the CIA putsch in Guatemala, Che ended up in Mexico, in 1955, where he met Fidel Castro. By July 1957, he had become second in command of the rebel army and, the next year, took the town of Santa Clara, which victory cleared the path of the revolution to Havana. In 1959 he became Minister of Industry, responsible for tackling the shortages of machinery and spare parts resulting from the USA’s trade embargo.

The rest, as they say, is history.


9pm, Wed 14th, RENOIR
Dir: Marcelo Silva, Brazil, 2007, 52 min, Colour.

Widely despised for their poverty, their reliance on subsistence farming and, not least, for their sex, the female “nut breakers” of lawless Bico of

Papagayo, in Brazil, are fighting for a fair distribution of land in the face of the powerful landowning and corporate interests surrounding them. Central to the struggle is 60 year old Raimunda who is helping to unite the women despite the problems of illiteracy and ignorance she has to overcome on a daily basis.


5.30pm, Sat 10th, RENOIR
Dir: Ishmahil Blagrove, UK, 2007, 58 min, Colour.

Rice N Peas, acclaimed producers of Hasta Siempre tackle, head on, the “elephant in the room” of London Latin American politics: what happens after Castro? Anyone who assumes that Cuba is ripe for the development of Western style representational government, should see this documentary. Given the rocketing social inequity in other countries which have joined the “free world” in recent years, it seems the sacrifices made by the Cuban people and the hard-won gains in social capital, education, health, will not lightly be brushed to one side. Required viewing.



9pm, Wed 14th, RENOIR
Dir: Betty Marisol Garcia, USA/ Dominican Republic/ Chile, 2007, 15 min, Colour.

The adventures of a young immigrant woman seeking her very own version of the American Dream, in New York.


6.30pm, Fri 16th, MAYFAIR
Dir: Nestor Dennis, Spain, 2007, 4 min, Colour.

A terrorist of the airwaves sets a double trap; for a TV producer and for the police snatch squad on his tail.

The 2007 London Latin American Film Festival was hosted once again at two of central London’s most popular cinema venues, the Renoir Cinema and the Curzon Mayfair. The doors opened to all things Latin between 9-18 November including; art exhibitions, directors, Q&A’s and, of course, a wide representation of film making from Cuba, through Costa Rica to Chile.