25th LLAFF 2015



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.

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

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!

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

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

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.



Dir. Carlos Barba Salva, Cuba / Mexico / Spain / USA, 2014, 111 min. colour, English subtitles.

A stunning retrospective of one of Cuba’s most outstanding visual artists, and the story of the abiding mystery surrounding his disappearance five years ago. Humberto Solas was a filmmaker, a visionary, and, first and foremost, a Cuban icon. Best known as the director of “Lucia”, (regarded a one of the ten best Latin American films of all time), he actually amassed an extensive body of work, and, through his pioneering experimentation in the use of colour, became a major influence on the cinema of the island. Five years after his actual disappearance, co-workers, family and friends, gather to remember aspects of his life and career and discuss the lasting legacy of his feature films

Gabo, the magic of reality / Gabo, la magia de lo real

Dir. Justin Webster, Spain / UK, 2015, 90 min, colour & B/W, English subtitles.

How did a boy from a backward town on the Caribbean coast become a writer who won the hearts of millions, from the poorest to the most powerful, with a life’s work that helped change our perception of reality? Drawing on a wealth of archive material, this documentary traces the inspirational story of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (‘ Gabo ‘ as he is affectionately known throughout Latin America), lauded as perhaps the best writer in Spanish since Cervantes, winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, and author of the critically acclaimed masterpiece “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. Growing up in the poverty and violence of northern Colombia, he was motivated by a love of life, as well as an earthy and mysterious sensibility. He pioneered a new, life-affirming genre of literature, and through his militant journalism, and friendships with leaders like Fidel Castro and Bill Clinton, was at the forefront of the political struggles of the Seventies and Eighties.

Me dicen Cuba

Dir. Pablo Massip, Cuba, 2014, 52 min. colour, English subtitles.

“Of all the arts, the only one that doesn’t exist is music. Music doesn’t exist. It only exists in the minds and imaginations of men and women. Music begins where words end”. Master musician and composer Sergio Vitier begins the narration of “Me Dicen Cuba” with these striking words, setting the tone for a documentary that explores the universal themes of music (peace, love, friendship, family, community, nation) from the unique perspective of musicians in Cuba today. With the participation of more than seventy of the country’s most prominent music-makers (amongst them, Sergio Vitier himself, Digna Guerra, Vicente Feliu, Alexander Varona, Lazaro García, Kiki Corona, Amaury Perez, Raul Paz, Luna Manzanares, Vania Borges, Baby Lores, Tanmy Lopez, Yadira Estruch, the Buena Fe Duet, Paulo FG, Hector Gutierrez, Silvio Rodriguez), the film presents a portrait of, perhaps, the central form in Cuba’s cultural expression, at a moment of historical change. The end result is scintillating, and thought provoking, in equal measure.

Never ever neverland

Dir. Marina Ochoa, Cuba, 2014, 90 min, colour & B/W, English subtitles.

Director Marina Ochoa dedicated this heart-rending documentary to her younger brother, Frank, who was one of the more than fourteen thousand Cuban children who were sent, alone, to the USA between 1960 and 1962. She never saw him again. “Operation Peter Pan” has been the subject of previous films, but here, apart from exploring the lasting effects on its victims, Ochoa throws new light on the secrets of the operation, for example, the role of Spain as a conduit for the expatriation, and the fact that some of the children ended up being settled in Jamaica, instead of the States. Crucially, she demonstrates that “Operation Peter Pan” was not merely a one-off event, of purely historical significance, as she reveals how near such a tragedy came to being repeated in Venezuela, as a reaction to the advent of the Chavez government. Essential  viewing, for everyone.

4 elements 4 weapons / 4 ramas 4 armas

Dir. Katharin Ross, Chile, 2015, 72 min. colour, English subtitles.

This film give us a glimpse of a wide range of activities hip hop youth engage in as a means of empowerment, and reveals a critical voice of dissent and an inspiring display of positive action toward effecting change within these young people’s lives and communities.

Blood of my blood / Sangre de mi sangre

Dir. Jeremie Reichenbach, France, 2014, 78 min. colour. English subtitles.

BLOOD OF MY BLOOD describes the life of a family of workers in a self-managed slaughterhouse in Argentina. A mix of scenes of daily life and landmark events, a story of love, sharing and transmission….


London’s latin quarter

Dir. Silvia Rothlisberger, UK, 2015, 14 min, colour, English subtitles.

The largely untold story of Elephant and Castle’s Latin American community (the largest in London), the influence of Latin Americans through their food, music, and culture, and the threat posed to the Latin American community, amongst many others, by the massive and on-going, luxury developments in the area.


Dir. Jorg Wagner, Brazil / UK, 2015, 25 min. colour, English subtitles.

A breezy, fun-filled comedy set in North London, revolving around the lives and loves of a wild, rainbow assortment of Brazilians in a Seven Sisters flat-share.

A gift to my mother

Dir. Elam Forrester, UK, 2015, 2 min, colour, English subtitles.

A  portrait of Panaderia La Esperanza, at the heart of the deprived community of El Refugio. The bakery was set up in 2006, with the express aim of providing local people with training and a regular income.

Facing up

Dir. Elam Forrester, UK, 2015, 8 min. colour, English subtitles.

A simple, and utterly compelling documentary, one woman’s account of her childhood, and her former life as a guerrilla in El Salvador.

Struggling for recognition: the waste pickers of Colombia

Dir. Yanni Zikidis, Colombia, 2014, 10 min. colour, English subtitles.

Colombia remains one of the most inequitable countries in South America. Yet the health and well-being of society depends upon an all but invisible community of workers. This is their struggle to be seen.

Last days of a house / Ultimos dias de una casa

Dir. Lourdes de los Santos Matos, Cuba, 2015, 14 min. colour, English subtitles.

A call to arms to help save, for Havana, and for Cuba, the old house of Dulce Maria Loynaz, the poet  whose lyrical and commanding style forged a powerful, distinctly female vision of nationhood.

Job / Trabajo

Dir. Nelson Pena, Dominican Republic, 2015, 14 min. colour, English subtitles.

Determined to help his mother in her struggle to support her family as a lone parent, a young deaf boy goes out to seek work. Deeply affecting.


Dirs. Adrienn Vass & Silvia Rothlisberger, UK / Colombia / Cuba/ Hungary, 2013, 13 min, colour, English subtitles.

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.