When most people think of Latin American cinema, countries like Mexico and Brazil come to mind. But the truth is that there are a wide variety of films coming from a broad range of countries — places like Chile, Colombia and Venezuela.
That’s one of the central themes of Latin American and Spanish Film Week, coming to the University of Victoria’s Cinecenta beginning Mon, Sept. 19.
“We want to feature countries that you don’t hear much of in terms of cinema,” says event coordinator Dan Russek, a professor in UVic’s Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies. “An example of that is Venezuela. They don’t have a big industry, they don’t win a lot of prizes, but they’re still making good films.”
To highlight the geographical diversity that Latin American film offers, Russek and his fellow organizing committee members have assembled a lineup of seven films from seven countries, including Spain, which was not a part of the event last year.
The Venezuelan offering, Brother, kicks off the week with a story of two football-playing brothers whose lives are interrupted by tragedy. The film was Venezuela’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at last year’s Academy Awards.
The films’ styles are just as diverse as their nations of origin. Chile’s Post Mortem is a psychological and political thriller that takes place during the rule of Augusto Pinochet. Colombian documentary Sins of My Father explores the life of the son of notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar and his quest for reconciliation with the children of two of his father’s more prominent victims.
The week also features entries from Brazil (Smoke Gets In Your Eyes — the only Portugese-language film of the bunch), Mexico (Perpetuum Mobile), Argentina (The Man Next Door), and the aforementioned Spanish film Even the Rain, which is set in Bolivia.
The only common thread, says Russek, is that “the movies have to be really good. My experience has been that people in Victoria are really interested in Latin American culture … We’re not targeting one audience.”
Last year’s inaugural event drew close to 1,000 people for five nights of films. The turnout prompted organizers to expand to a full week this year.
“We were quite surprised and happy with the public’s response,” says Russek. “That’s why we thought it was worth pursuing the project again and trying to make it an annual event.”
Latin American and Spanish Film Week runs from Sept. 19-25. Each night will feature two showings of the same film, at 7 and 9 p.m. For a full schedule, visit www.cinecenta.com. Regular admission fees apply. M
By Ryan Flaherty