American Cinema Foundation
E: acinema@cinemafoundation.com
T: 310.889.0742
 

Festivals and Awards 1999: Latin America

Freedom Film Festival Poster

Freedom Film Festival Poster by Wiktor Sadowski © American Cinema Foundation

In the Name of FreedomEssay by Eva Zaoralová, Program Director of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival

The Holloway FileDatabase of Russian and Ex-Soviet Union directors

Introduction
The American Cinema Foundation is proud to announce the creation of Freedom Film Festival Latin America, an annual showcase of Latin American films which will take place alongside its Eastern European counterpart. The Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE) and the Consulate General of Mexico are co-presenters in this venture.

Latin America has, in a century of vibrant life, evolved some of the most important film cultures in the world. Filmmakers there share with their peers in the US, Europe and Asia a great sophistication in storytelling, tackling with vigor tales that reflect their cultural identity and artistic expression as well as providing popular entertainment.

As different as the histories of Latin America and the U.S. have been, the societies of the Americas have at least one thing in common: a rigid intellectual orthodoxy that for the most part has dominated the cultural debate. We think that changing realities in Latin America and the U.S. make it more important than ever for audiences to be made aware that there are many ways to express the truth of people's lives besides the exclusively political. With the increasing integration of Latin writers, directors, producers and stars into the entertainment community and into US society itself, wider cultural forums of every type are needed for artists who are committed to creating a new freedom of expression. It is our goal to select films that demonstrate the ways Latin American people, both filmmakers and public, view themselves.

The Films
The festival opens with the US premiere of the highly awaited Mexican production El Cometa, directed by Marisa Sistach, a love story pinned against the background of the revolution, and which portrays the birth of filmmaking in Mexico during that turbulent period. We also include the US premieres of two examples of the new wave of quality commercial filmmaking in Mexicoƒfilms which show the daily concerns of everyday people. La Primera Noche, directed by Alejandro Gamboa, a winner at the Guadalajara Film Festival, describes the life of a group of teenagers in Mexico City coping with love and growing up. In La Paloma de Marsella by Carlos Garcia Agraz a group of senior citizens in Mexico City keep their spirits and love alive against the advance of age.

The US premiere of Chile's most successful domestic release, Football Stories by Andres Wood, poignantly describes the ironies surrounding the world's most popular religion, soccer. Brazil is represented by two films: the wild romp Tieta de Agreste, with Sonia Braga as the prodigal daughter who returns to the sleepy town of her birth and turns it upside down; and the magical realist film Kenoma, directed by Eliane Caffe. Both were produced by one of Latin America's premier producers, Donald Ranvaud. And we have the wonderfully crafted short film from Puerto Rico The Absolution by Luis Gerard.

A special event will be the presentation of two films based on the work of Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez: the magical, surrealist and very sensual classic Erendira (1982) a Mexico/Germany/France co-production directed by Ruy Guerra and co-produced by Regina Ziegler; and Marquez' present-day adaptation of the most famous of all Greek tragedies, Edipo Alcalde, a new Colombia/Spain/Mexico co-production directed by Ali Triana.

From art house releases to successful commercial ventures, we will show films that speak of the heart and trends in the fastest growing film market in the world, the Latin market. Unlike other film festivals in the US, the Freedom Festival is held during an international film market, when the international film industry has already focused on Los Angeles.

It is always a great privilege to be able to present great filmmaking in the city where cinema history is made. The festival has received tremendous support from the film, diplomatic and business communities in Latin America and Los Angeles. It is our fondest hope that the press and public will help us shape this pilot project into an ever growing window for the public, media and industry members to discover the best Latin films, year after year.—Adrian Rudomin.


Freedom Film Festival 1999: Latin America

Kenoma

Kenoma

110 min.
Director: Eliane Caffé
Screenplay: Luis Alberto de Abreu and Eliane Caffé
Cast: Jose Dumont, Mariana Lima, Enrique Diaz, Jonas Bloch
Preceded by "The Absolution"
U.S. (1998) 16 min.
Director/Screenplay: Luis Gerard

(Brazil 1998)

About the Film
Jonas, a drifter, arrives in the simple town of Kenoma and becomes infatuated with a girl. Eager to stay in the village in order to create a relationship with her, Jonas accepts a job as apprentice to an eccentric craftsman who has devoted his life to transforming the local mill into a perpetual motion machine. In the craftsman's mind, this achievement would change the future of the village forever. But Jonas finds himself pitted against the mill's owner, who wishes to make something useful out of his land and out of Kenoma. As Jonas grows fascinated by the old man and his machine, he becomes embroiled in the age-old struggle between pragmatism and dreams.

 

El Cometa

El Cometa

95 min.
Director: Marisa Sistach, Jose Buil
Screenplay: Jose Buil, Marisa Sistach, Chelo Garrido
Cast: Diego Luna, Ana Claudia Talancon, Carmen Maura, Gabriel Retes, Arcelia Ramirez

(Mexico 1998)

About the Film
At the dawn of the Mexican revolution, the daughter of a political activist is entrusted to the care of Victor, the son of a traveling circus owner. Valentina sets off on a fascinating journey with the circus and its peculiar members, traveling from village to village. Victor has fallen under the spell of cinema and decides to save the failing circus from bankruptcy by introducing Lumiere's magic to the remote villages they visit, bringing these simple shows to peasants in Mexico. As Victor films new vignettes to include in his presentations, he witnesses the eruption of the revolution, becoming the first person to film this monumental war. Amid the chaos of revolution and the magic of the circus and cinema, Victor and Valentina fall in love.

 

Edipo Alcalde

Edipo Alcalde

100 min.
Director: Jorge Ali Triana
Screenplay: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Cast: Jorge Perrugoria ("Strawberries and Chocolate"), Angela Molina, Francisco Rabal, Jairo Camargo, Jorge Martinez de Hoyos

(Colombia/Mexico 1996)

About the Film
In Gabriel Garcia Marquez' adaptation of Oedipus Rex, the newly appointed mayor of a small town in a troubled region of the Colombian Andes, Edipo, is on his way to assume his office when he and his military escort are confronted by a vehicle filled with armed men. Edipo shoots at the vehicle, a bullet going straight through the windshield. Once in the village, he discovers that Layo, the most powerful landowner in the region, has been murdered. Outraged, Edipo decrees he will not stop until Layo's murderers are punished. In the subsequent criminal investigation, an explosive connection develops between Edipo and Layo's wife. Meanwhile, the conflict between landowners and local guerrillas escalates, exploding in carnage as Edipo discovers the tragic truth.

 

Erendira

Erendira

103 min.
Director: Ruy Guerra
Screenplay: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Cast: Irene Papas, Claudia Ohana, Michael Lonsdale, Oliver Wehe, Ernesto Gomez Cruz, Pierre Vanek

(Mexico/France/Germany 1983)

About the Film
This sensual, humorous and magical film is based on a section of Gabriel Garcia Marquez' masterpiece "One Hundred Years of Solitude." It narrates the story of Erendira, an innocent young girl who is sold into a life of sexual slavery by her greedy grandmother. She becomes a legend throughout the land for her sexual prowess and sells her body to dozens of men nightly. But when this third-world Cinderella finally meets her Prince Charming, the couple's only escape is to murder the demented grandma, whose monstrous lust for life makes her nearly indestructible.

 

La Paloma de Marsella

La Paloma de Marsella

100 min.
Director: Carlos Garcia Agraz
Screenplay: Eliseo Alberto
Cast: Rosa de Castilla, German Robles, Mercedes Pascual, Bertha Moss, Anabel Gutierrez, Hector Ortega, Eduardo Lopez Rojas

(Mexico 1998)

About the Film
Amelia, a retired "working" woman once known as The Dove of Marseille, decides to challenge the growing sense of defeat that dominates the home for the elderly where she lives, by trying her luck on a popular TV game show. As she rises to the challenge of unexpected and unwanted surprises she rediscovers that life is about taking chances, and determines to gamble everything for a final chance at finding true love. This understated, star-studded film is a vibrant and truthful description of life among the lower middle class elderly in Mexico City. It is a wonderful example of the trend in Mexican filmmaking of representing the concerns of everyday people.

 

La Primera Noche

La Primera Noche

90 min.
Director: Alejandro Gamboa
Screenplay: Benjamin Cann
Cast: Osvaldo Benavides, Mariana Avila, Xavier Massimi, Julio Casado, Audrey Vera, Margarita Magaña, Paul Choza, Guillermo Iván

(Mexico 1998)

About the Film
In a city relentlessly facing the new millennium, a group of teenagers nervously discovers the excitement and fears surrounding their first time. Bruno and Mariana live a tender and passionate relationship and decide to explore the possibility of a first sexual experience. Filled with fear and doubt, they search for the solution to their endless questions. Meanwhile their friends make their own discoveries, confronting fears and inadequacies in dealing with the opposite sex. This story, with its universal appeal, broke ground in its home country: it was the first commercial film to discuss in an open, responsible, and truthful manner the concerns of teenagers in Mexico City today.

 

La Sonambula

La Sonambula (Sleepwalker)

105 min.
Director: Fernando Spiner
Screenplay: Ricardo Piglia, Fernando Spiner, Fabian Bielinsky
Cast: Eusebio Poncela, Sofia Viruboff, Lorenzo Quinteros, Gaston Pauls

(Argentina 1998)

About the Film
Buenos Aires, the year 2010. Secret experiments with a new psychic weapon have gone out of control, causing total memory loss in hundreds of thousands of people. To reinsert the affected into society, the authorities give everyone a make-believe family, home and profession. But someone is against the move and summons the resistance. The rebel's name is Gauna, and no one knows where to find him. Young Eva Rey, a victim of the mind-obliterating radiation, is caught and submitted to special surveillance by Dr. Gazzar, who realizes that Guana can be visualized through Eva's dreams. The authorities then set her free so she can take them to the legendary leader.

 

Little Thieves, Big Thieves

Little Thieves, Big Thieves

102 min.
Director: Alejandro Saderman
Screenplay: Carlos Gonzalez, Luis Zelkowicz, Henry Herrera, Alejandro Saderman
Cast: Orlando Urdaneta, Daniel Lugo, Aroldo Betancourt, Mariano Alvarez, Elluz Peraza, Flavio Caballero, Armando Gota, Alicia Plaza, Manuel Salazar, Cayito Aponte, Dad Dager, Paco Ginot

(Venezuela 1998)

About the Film
Not very long ago, the Venezuelan banking system was shattered by what was called "the worst financial crisis ever." The government had to intervene and close nearly forty percent of the banks. In these circumstances, four friends belonging to the impoverished middle class decide to carry out a "white-glove" bank robbery, transferring money to an account they've opened in an island in the Caribbean. But the bank they've chosen is already bankrupt and about to be closed down by the government. The operation fails, the police and television crews appear, and the case goes public. After a number of incidents, during which the corruption of the banking system becomes evident, the friends try to negotiate their freedom.

 

Tieta do Agreste

Tieta do Agreste

115 min.
Director: Carlos Diegues
Screenplay: Antonio Calmon, based on a story by Jorge Amaco
Cast: Sonia Braga, Leon Goes, Jece Valadao, Claudia Abreu, Jorge Amado, Zeze Motta, Marilia Pera
Preceded by: "The Absolution"
U.S. (1998) 16 min.
Director/Screenplay: Luis Gerard

(Brazil 1996)

About the Film
Sonia Braga stars as Tieta, who returns to her village 26 years after being exiled for sexual indiscretions, accompanied by a beautiful but sad girl whom she introduces as her stepdaughter. The homecoming of the now rich and powerful widow creates quite an upheaval. Using her mysterious connections, she becomes the village's benefactor, but the peace of rural life is soon shaken by the arrival of a company which intends to build a highly polluting factory. In the midst of all this, Tieta's dark secret is revealed, but by the time the story ends, the village has been changed forever by her magic.