Explore Latin culture through film

Third annual Latin American Film Festival kicks off in Victoria

Zombies invade Havana, Cuba in Juan de los Muertos, screening at Cinecenta.

Zombies invading the streets of Havana, a suitcase filled with thousands of negatives taken during the Spanish Civil War, and a Peruvian priest defending mountain farmers from a U.S.-owned gold mine — these are just half of the stories being told at the third-annual Latin American and Spanish Film Week, hosted by UVic’s Cinecenta Sept. 18-23.

“In essence, we are trying to bring Latin American and Spanish culture to Victoria through film,” says festival coordinator Dan Russek.

Each night of the festival features a film from a different country.

“We spent many months watching movies,” says Russek, who is also a professor of Hispanic and Italian Studies at the university. “The nice thing about our event is that we only chose six movies so we have the advantage of selecting the best of the best.”

While some Latin American countries, like Mexico, produce more movies than others, Russek says it is important to explore films from countries with lesser known film industries, like Cuba.

The ClownThe festival kicks off Tues., Sept. 18 with O Palhaço (The Clown), a story of self-discovery  — and a box office hit — from Brazil. (2011, 88 minutes).

Wednesday’s film Gatos viejos (Old Cats)  tells the story of how an independent older couple and their two cats deal with their daughter and her lesbian lover’s get-rich-quick scheme. (2010, Chile, 88 minutes).

Thursday features screenings of La maleta Mexicana (The Mexican Suitcase), an incredible story of the 2007 recovery of 4,500 negatives taken during the Spanish Civil War by renowned war photographers Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and David Seymour. The documentary follows the journey of the negatives to Mexico and parallels it with the story of Spanish exile (2010, 86 minutes).

Friday’s film is Operación Diablo (The Devil Operation), a story about a Peruvian priest nicknamed “El Diablo” for his part in defending mountain farmers from a U.S.-owned mining company ( 2010, Canada/Peru. 69 minutes).All proceeds from the screening of this film go to support Mosqoy, a Canadian charity created by UVic alumni that promotes social justice and cultural rights in the Peruvian Andes through cultural and educational programs.

Saturday’s film, Juan de los Muertos (Juan of the Dead) is a dark-comedy/political satire about what happens when zombies invade the streets of Havana (2011, Cuba, 100 minutes).

And Sunday’s film Un Cuento Chino (A Chinese Tale) tells the funny and heartwarming tale of reclusive hardware store owner Roberto and how his life is completely disrupted when a young Chinese man stumbles into his path (2011, Argentina, 93 minutes).

The Latin American and Spanish Film Week is organized and funded by four offices at UVic: Hispanic and Italian Sudies, Social Sciences, Office of Community Relations and Continuing Studies and was organized by Russek as well as Silvia Colas, Chrissie Forster and Dovi Kreger.

All films are being screened at UVic’s Cinecenta (Student Union Building) and will be shown with English subtitles. Showtimes are 7 and 9 pm. Cost: $5.60 – $7.75 (regular admission fees). For full details, visit the cinema website at cinecenta.com. M

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