19th LLAFF 2009



Amor en Transito

Saturday 7 Nov 6:15pm Riverside Studios
Tuesday 10 Nov 6:30pm Riverside Studios
Dir. Lucas Blanco, Argentina, 2009, 91 mins,

Cast: Sabina Garciarena, Veronica Palaccini,
Lucas Crespi

Lucas Blanco’s feature is essential viewing. Time, space and identity twist and turn as the paths of Mercedes, Ariel, Juan and Micaela cross and re-cross. Music and image form an iridescent hall of mirrors in which the preconceptions of the characters are transformed into something quite other. Each is haunted by the past, yet unable to act decisively. Through their encounters, the narrative subtly traces their reawakening to the infinite possibilities that life and renewed desire bring. You will leave the cinema stirred, maybe a little disturbed, but, ultimately, uplifted; and will carry this film with you, for a long time.


The Forest/El Bosque

Friday 13 Nov 7:30pm Cafe Crema
Dirs. Pablo Siciliano and Eugenio Lasserre,
Argentina, 2008, 100 mins, colour

Cast: Oscar Perez, Paula Brasca, Martin

Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Overall
Production, Oscar Perez Best Actor, Saladillo Film
Festival, Argentina
Superb cinematography and sound design combine to create a deeply disturbing viewing experience in this dark and eerie film following a modern day Hansel and Gretel marooned in the wild forest of northern Argentina and prey to sinister, ancient forces. On another level, here is a wry reflection on the deeply Argentinean division and misunderstanding between city and country.


Friday 6 Nov 8:30pm Riverside Studios
Monday 9 Nov 6:30pm Riverside Studios
Friday 13 Nov 7:30pm Bolivar Hall
Thursday 12 Nov 6:00pm Haringey IC
Saturday 14 Nov 1:30pm Duke of York
Dirs. Mando Alvarado and Michael Ray Escamilla, Mexico/USA, 2009, 94 mins colour

Cast: Mando Alvarado, Michael Ray Escamilla, David Barrera

Awards: Reel Visions, Reel Rasquache Film Festival—Best Narrative. Grand Jury Award for Best Actor, San Antonio Film Festival—Michael Ray Escamilla. Mexico International Film Festival—Silver Palm Award.Seattle True Independent Film Festival— Best Foreign Film. Athens International Film festival— Best Narrative.

Co-directors Michael Ray Escamilla and Mando Alvarado (both of whom have featured in TV’s “Law and Order” series) are also the stars of “Cruzando”. This clever, funny and atmospheric feature is set in the directors’ home town of La Valle, on the Mexico / US border. It depicts a delicately shaded rites of passage and a deeply moving exploration of the relationship between place and personal identity. A young man, Manuel, needs to cross into the USA, not for economic reasons but to visit his estranged father who, he discovers, is on Death Row. His friend, Diego, comes along to video the journey (adding a layer of witty meta-narrative to the, already rich, texture of the film). With its cool, knowing soundtrack and brilliant cinematography, “Cruzando” avoids all the usual clichés and adds up to a profound and heartfelt account of a personal quest, as well as a thought-provoking treatise on the paradoxes of exile and belonging. Highly recommended.


How much Further /Que Tan Lejos

Saturday 14 Nov 7:30pm Bolivar Hall
Dir. Tania Hermida, Ecuador, 2006, 92 mins, colour

Awards Grand Coral Award: Second Prize Opera Prima, Havana International Film Festival, Cuba. Silver Zenith Award: Best First Feature Film, Montreal World Film Festival, Canada Ebullient tourist, Esperanza,

Ebullient tourist, Esperanza, and cynical student, Tristeza, are thrown together by a transport strike and set off together to hitch across Ecuador. Esperanza is lively and wayward, obsessed by adventure: Tristeza, on the other hand, is only travelling for the bitter purpose of ruining her ex-boyfriend’s wedding. Though with fiercely contrasting personalities and motivations, the two women slowly form a tender bond of love and friendship, in the course of their encounters with the extraordinary cast of characters they meet along their way. Director, Tania Hermida, manages to draw out some really subtle and resonant performances in this magical but never overstated, road movie.

The Gift of The Pachamama

Monday 9 Nov 8:30pm Riverside Studios
Sunday 15 Nov 6:00pm Haringey IC
Dir. Toshifumi Matsushita, Bolivia/Japan, 2009, 102 mins, colour

Cast: Christian Huaygua, Fanny Mosques, Francisco Gutierrz

One of the greatest films in the festival this year, delving, as it does, deep into one of the well-springs of Latin American culture: the spiritual universe of its indigenous peoples. Kunturi lives simply, with his Quechua family, amongst the salt lakes of Uyuni, Bolivia. When he goes on a journey by llama caravan, with his father, he enters a world defined by ancient ancestral codes and a profound reverence for nature. With delicacy and aestheticism, the filmmakers follow the travellers along the old Salt Road, recording the wild splendour of the land as well as the deep sense of community and belonging implicit in the worship of Pachamama, the eternal Earth Mother who gives birth and meaning to all life. A beautiful and moving antidote to the alienation of modern existence.



Saturday 7 Nov 8:15pm Riverside Studios
Tuesday 10 Nov 8:30pm Riverside Studios
Dir. Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, Mexico/ USA, 2006, 91 mins, colour.

Cast: Eduardo Verastegui, Tammy Blanchard, Manny Perez

When an international footballer (played by Mexican star Eduardo Verastegui) faces a turn of events which brings an abrupt end to his career, all appears to be lost. In New York, a beautiful waitress (played by Tammy Blanchard), trying to make it in the big bad city, discovers something about herself she had never expected. Cut adrift from all their previous assumptions, their lives are turned upside down … until a simple gesture leads to an unforgettable conclusion. A magical and romantic journey; a definite must see for this year.



Our Disappeared

Saturday 7 Nov 4:00pm Riverside Studios
Dir. Juan Mandelbaum, USA, 2008, 99 mins, colour & B/W

Awards: The Phoenix: Outside the Frame Gerald Peary’s Top Ten Films of 2008, USA Cine Golden Eagle Awards, Washington, USA

Cast: Sabina Garciarena, Veronica Palaccini,
Lucas Crespi

Argentine documentary maker Juan Mandelbaum, returns from exile after he discovers that his former girlfriend was among the thousands murdered by the junta in the 1970’s. In a painfully personal exposé, he uncovers her story and that of a whole lost generation.


Viva Mexico

Sunday 8 Nov 8:15pm Riverside Studios
Dir. Nicolas Defosee, Mexico, 2009, 120 mins,

Awards: Audience Award: Tepoztlan Film Festival, Mexico

A devastating indictment of globalisation which is marginalising the indigenous peoples of Mexico, their culture destroyed or commoditised by central government. Through this documentary, which profiles the many campaigns by organisations seeking to give a voice to the voiceless, the people cry out for peaceful resistance to the racism and poverty being imposed on them. Moving and revelatory viewing.

The Loss/La Perdida

Saturday 14th Nov 7:30pm Bolivar Hall
Dir. Javier Angulo and Enrique Gabriel,
Argentina/Spain, 2009, 98 mins, colour

The state terrorism in the Argentina of the mid-seventies is a still unhealed wound in the body of Argentine society. The murder of at least 20,000 people, though still unpunished, has been eloquently exposed and discussed. This feature length documentary tells of those who fled the genocide and suffered the pain of complete separation from their lives, loves and culture. The profound power of this film resides in the wider insight that, to this day, the whole of Argentinean society, culture and body politic remains impoverished by the banishment, during that time of horror, of a whole class of thinking people.


I am Happy

Tuesday 10 Nov 8:30pm Dulwich Paradiso Film Society

Sunday 8 Nov 4:15pm Riverside Studios
Dir. Soraya Umewaka, Brazil/USA, 2008, 66 mins, colour

Far from being just another example of ‘poverty porn’, this beautiful documentary reveals the vivacious culture of Rio’s slum communities in the face of the prejudice and deprivation suffered by the poor. A positive representation of the decent and hardworking folk of the favelas, and a joyous celebration of the power of human creativity.


Sons of Cuba/Hijos de Cuba

Wednesday 11 Nov 8:00pm
Riverside Studios
Dir. Andrew Lang, UK, 2009, 88 mins, colour

This utterly extraordinary, unflinching feature documentary provides a unique and vivid insight into the lives of young men training for Cuba’s national boxing squad, their hopes for themselves, the rigours of their lives and their unwavering patriotism. The viewer is left with the powerful impression of a masculine identity, composed of pride, skill and discipline, forged in the furnace of aspiration and ideological rigour. Essential viewing.

Crossing Borders/Cruzando Fronteras

Saturday 7 Nov 2:00pm Riverside Studios
Saturday 8 Nov 2:00pm Riverside Studios
Wednesday 11 Nov 6:30pm Riverside Studios
Dir. Sofia Buchuck, UK, 2007, 20 mins, colour

The complex experience of being a Latin American in the UK is explored in a kaleidoscope of words and music, evoking the sense of joy and cultural pride, tinged with the pain of separation, common to this great, diverse diaspora.

Santiago tiene una Pena

Sunday 8 Nov 4:15pm Riverside Studios
Sunday 15 Nov 1:30pm Duke of York
Dirs. Diego Riquelme Davidson and Felipe Orellana Pena, Chile, 2008, 40 mins colour

Awards: Best Documentary: Chiloe film Festival, Chile Best Documentary: Pedro Sienna Award, Chile

The unparalleled power of music to touch the soul amidst the alienation of city life is brilliantly delineated in this imaginatively constructed documentary which follows three young musicians, Claudio, Angélina and Estaban, making ends meet by busking on Santiago’s gigantic transport system. With little commentary, it is the pure collision of music and image which eloquently expounds the themes


Children of the Amazon

Friday 9 Nov 6:30pm Riverside Studios

Stunningly visual, compelling, multi-award winning and deeply personal documentary as Brazilian filmmaker Denise Zmekhol revisits the Amazonian peoples she had photographed fifteen years earlier. Following in the footsteps of the late activist and campaigner Chico Mendez, she discovers a terrible erosion of both the physical environment and the indigenous culture. Hard but essential viewing.


Victims of Democracy

Tuesday 10 Nov 7:30pm Bolivar Hall
Dir. Stella Jacobs, Venezuela, 2008, 42 mins, colour

Political repression in 1970s Venezuela is seldom discussed. This stirring documentary centres on the disappearance, murder and eventual disinterment of two individual victims of Rómulo Betancourt’s ‘dirty war’ against the left. A testament to victims of impunity, across the world.


Tuesday 10 Nov 7:30pm Bolivar Hall
Dir. Eric M. Corvalan Pelle, Cuba, 2008, 35 mins, colour

Awards: Best Film: International Documentary Film Festivl Santiago Alvarez In Memoriam, Cuba. Best Film: International Film and TV School, San Antonio de los Banos, Havana, Cuba

The issues of racial discrimination in Cuba and the unacknowledged debt that is owed to the African-Cuban population, are daringly explored by Habanero, Eric Corvalán, filming in a nation where race is still the ‘elephant in the room’ nobody discusses. The film addresses the difficult debate over how a revolutionary society can persevere in bringing social justice to each and every one of its members.


Benjamin and the Wind

A humane and lyrical documentary portrait of the genial Benjamin, the only remaining pupil of the school in depopulated La Mudana in the wilds of Cordoba Province, Argentina. The beauty and peacefulness of a dying, agrarian lifestyle is evoked with enormous empathy and affection. A small perfect gem of a film.

The beginning was in Warisata

Sunday 8 Nov 6:30pm Riverside Studios

A unique and moving oral history document of the Grand Chaco war of the 30’s against Paraguay, in the words of the few surviving indigenous agricultural workers forced to fight for Bolivia by the unbending feudal system of the time. A timely reflection on the bitter era of the haciendas, and a testament to those who have endured it.

Little Havana/Pequena Habana

Monday 9 Nov 7:30pm Bolivar Hall
Dir. Rolando Pardo, Argentina/Cuba, 2007, 72 mins, colour

‘I was born lacking a couple of chromosomes, but it doesn’t matter. That is what made me’. Twelve Cuban’s with dwarfism talk to the camera about sex, love, work and dignity, comprising a realistic and revealing portrait of the city of Havana, as seen from a slightly different perspective than usual! The aim of the documentary, as director Rolando Pardo says, is to reflect the reality of being a small person in Cuba, while trying to counter some of the prejudices they suffer. ‘I clearly wanted to show that they are not monsters, but normal people who live normal lives within a society that should respect them’. The interviewees range from a chiropodist who tries to bring his son up so that he can deal with the limits his height might cause him, to a mother who sleeps in her baby’s cradle, to a family man who drives a taxi-bicycle to make a living. This is the optimistic, life-affirming story of twelve anonymous people who, over the course of 72 minutes, come to life as vivid, individual characters with amazing stories to tell.



The Sea/El Mar

Tuesday 10 Nov 7:30pm Bolivar Hall
Dir. Maricarmen Merino, Costa Rica, 2009, 14 mins, colour

A boy, accompanied by his pet goldfish, travels all day with his mother to receive his birthday present; a visit to the sea. A marvellous script and superb performances, beautifully filmed, add up to a small, poignant masterpiece.


It’s popular/Es popular

Sunday 8 Nov 2:00pm Riverside Studios
Wednesday 11 Nov 6:30pm
Riverside Studios
Dir. Carlos Osuna, Colombia, 2009, 3 mins, colour

Youthful, vibrant and witty animation to an original soundtrack, combining great visual panache with brilliant technique. Great fun!


The Engulfed Cathedral

Monday 9 Nov 7:30pm Bolivar Hall
Dir. Yolyanko William, Cuba, 2007, 6 mins, colour

Stunning animated imagery evoking the spirit of rebirth and exploration.


A Fairy Tale

A dark but charming parable about two children exploring the different layers of the city.



Friday 6 Nov 6:30pm Riverside Studios
Dir. Diego Rougier, Chile, 2009, 14 mins, colour
Cast: Carolina Varleta, Inigo Urrutia, Gustavo

An achingly funny and brilliantly choreographed dance between characters and camera, in which the complex relationships of an extended family are laid bare through their reactions to the mysterious ‘Escorbo’. Witty and inspired filmmaking, cleverly exploiting the full potential of digital production.

Debut and Farewell

Sunday 8 Nov 2:00pm Riverside Studios
Saturday 14 Nov 1:30pm Duke of York

Where does performance end and life begin? Theatre, cinema and relationships become tangled in this intriguing and exquisitely crafted short drama.


Through the ear

Sunday 8 Nov 2:00pm Riverside Studios
Friday 15 Nov 7:30pm Cafe Crema
Dir. Joaquim Haickel, Brazil, 2008, 18 mins.

Cast: Amanda Acosta, Eucir de Souza,
Gustavo Brandao

Charlie, deprived of his senses in an accident, retains a primordial bond of love with Katie which keeps her hopes alive: but, something is still missing… until passion re-emerges in an extraordinary way. A dark and witty fable of survival and rebirth.


Ex Ergo

Monday 9 Nov 7:30pm Bolivar Hall
Saturday 14 Nov 1:30pm Duke of York
Dir. Yolyanko William, Cuba, 2007, 1 min,

Short animation exploring the dichotomy of human creativity and voraciousness. Quite extraordinarily beautiful.



Sunday 8 Nov 2:00pm Riverside Studios
Wednesday 11 Nov 6:30pm Riverside Studios
Dir. Amilcar Machado, Argentina, 2008, 13 mins, colour

Cast: Angel Angelucci, Edith Frydman, Luis Carlos Echeverry

A lyrical and sonorous lament for the passing of a way of life, told through a portrait of Don Jaime, one of the last remaining inhabitants of the hamlet of Quioga in rural Argentina. A gem of social realist filmmaking.


My Footsteps in Baragua/Hijos de Baragua

Sunday 15 Nov 7:30pm Cafe Crema
Dir. Gloria Rolando, Cuba, 2007, 53 mins, colour and B/W

Migration has been, and is, a constant theme in the life of the people of the Caribbean. In the municipality of Baragua, in the present province of Ciego de Avila, Cuba, the stories and customs of the English speaking Caribbeans and their descendants, still remain alive. Today they are an integral part of Cuba. This documentary vividly explores a vibrant and little known cultural element of Cuba’s multi-cultural mix.


Stop! Father/Padre…Pare!

Sunday 8 Nov 2:00pm Riverside Studios
Wednesday 11 Nov 6:30pm Riverside Studios
Dir. Jose Andres Nieto Galvis, Colombia, 2009,
9 mins. Colour.

Cast: Juan Fernando Galindo, Lorena Bueno,
Esperanza Cifuentes Ruiz

A young priest faces perils, as well as temptations, during his bus journey through bandit country in Colombia, unaware that one passenger harbours a dangerous secret. A charming, witty and sexy short drama with an ending that will surprise everyone.


This Town Needs a Death

Sunday 15 Nov 1:30pm Duke of York
Dir: Ana Cristina Monroy, Colombia, 2008, 48 mins, colour

With beauty, grace and humour, transvestite Jesus Emilio assumes the persona of Stefany and confronts the closed and homophobic society of El Choco, Colombia, with the fact of his homosexuality. Stefany speaks intimately about her faith, the pain and isolation she suffers, being gay and black. Through the death rites of the Palo religion, she is, paradoxically, able to find new life and hope of acceptance and love.

19th LLAFF Photogallery