Neruda (Opening Night)
Neruda is a lavishly-mounted re-imagining of the Nobel Prize-winning poet’s pursuit into political exile. It’s 1948, and the Cold War has reached Chile. In Congress, Neruda accuses the left-wing government of betraying the Communist Party and is swiftly impeached. The bumbling Police prefect Oscar Peluchonneau is appointed to arrest him. Neruda tries to flee the country with his wife Delia, but they are forced into hiding. Yet the poet is somehow inspired by the dramatic events of his new life as a fugitive, and uses this struggle as an opportunity to reinvent his work and life, leaving clues for his nemesis designed to make their game of cat and mouse more dangerous, more intimate. Indeed in this ingeniously-crafted tale of the persecuted poet and his implacable adversary, Neruda discovers his own heroic possibilities: a chance to become both a symbol for liberty, and a literary legend.
????? Cine Vue
In this clever road movie about road movies, Wendy, Diego, Rodrigo and Alberto are four thirty somethings who travel through the lush Peruvian jungle from village to village to show a film in the open air. We don’t get to find out what the film is, nor is it clear why hardly anybody comes to watch the free shows. Between villages they chat, meet local people, and generally sort out the world’s problems (or at least their own). Alberto is stuck in a dead-end job that pays too well for him to leave. Wendy can’t get her love-life together. While Diego and Rodrigo struggle to make ends meet as full time artists. The largely improvised dialogue between them is smart and snappy, with refined nonsense shifting seamlessly into the major questions of life.
The 1950 World Cup Final is the most famous match in football history known simply as the ‘Maracanazo’. Host Brazil faced Uruguay in the newly constructed Maracaná mega-stadium in front of 200,000 fans needing only to draw to win the Cup for the first time. Using carefully restored footage and interviews with the few surviving players, Maracanazo is the definitive account of a unique moment in football history that would shape these two nations and their players forever.
Red Earth tells the story of Pierre, a 40-year-old Belgian logger, who is hired by a multinational to manage a deforestation project in an impoverished rural town in Argentina’s northeast. A seemingly uncomplicated man and clearly an outsider in this tight knit community, he nevertheless looks to build roots. He participates in the back-breaking work alongside his employees, coaches the local youth rugby team, and is building a house in the forest that he hopes Ana, the local school teacher, will come and live in with her daughter. A strong willed woman, Ana says she likes him, but she prefers her independence. When a group of locals including Ana raise concerns that the toxins used by Pierre’s company are poisoning the population, he is initially skeptical. His superiors expect him to defend the company’s practices, but as he learns more through Ana and the local doctor and the protests turn violent, he find himself forced to take sides.
The Bribe of Heaven is a black comedy that takes place in a small and devoutly Catholic village in the Colombian Andes in the 1970s. It’s Easter when the family of a suicide victim tries to make arrangements for his burial only to find that the new local priest holds fast to the doctrine of denying church burial to suicides. Despite this, the family goes ahead and buries the body in the Catholic cemetery. In response, the priest denies the sacraments to the entire town until the family of the deceased remove the body from the cemetery. The villagers then launch an unexpected ‘strike’ of Holy Week-refusing to participate in any of the planned traditional activities-and create a register of local suicides. This unlocks a wave of suicide claims and denials-and the strike brings in evangelical groups from nearby towns.
In Santiago de Chile, during the thrilling years of the 1940s and 1950s a twenty-year-old Alejandro Jodorowsky decides to become a poet against the will of his conservative Jewish family. He finds his way into the inner circle of the artistic and intellectual avant-garde of the time and meets Enrique Lihn, Stella Díaz, Nicanor Parra and many other promising but anonymous young writers who will become the masters of Latin America’s modern literature. Totally immersed in this world of poetic experimentation, they live together as few have dared to live before: sensually, authentically, freely, madly.
The Violin Teacher (Centerpiece)
Inspired by the true story of the Baccarelli Institute and the play Acorda Brasil, The Violin Teacher tells the story of Laerte, a former child prodigy violinist of immense promise that has not been fulfilled. After failing an important audition for the OSESP (Symphonic Orchestra of São Paulo), Laerte finds himself alone and struggling to pay his bills. He reluctantly accepts an offer to teach children in Heliopolis, one of the biggest slums in Latin America. There he is shocked by a group of unruly, ill-disciplined teenagers who cannot even read music and fall far short of his standards when it comes to discipline and commitment. But amidst this chaos he uncovers the raw potential in some of the students, especially the gifted Samuel. As he comes to know them better he finds himself increasingly drawn into their world, until his former life threatens to tear them all apart.
This smart and sexy comedy explores the sometimes tricky road to true love. Twenty-something couple Dib and Lisa have just moved in together. But are they ready to live like ‘grown ups’? Madly in love and excited that they can simply be with one another, their new surroundings nevertheless provide some unexpected distractions. Following a strange phone call for the former owner of the new telephone line they have installed in their new apartment, Lisa becomes obsessed with the mysterious previous owner. And she starts to wonder-what if her love for Dib starts to fade? Meanwhile, Dib finds he has to contend with unruly neighbours, the girl on the ground floor and a barking puppy. And he starts to ask-now that they live together, what’s next?
Happy Times (Mexican Fiesta)
In this cheeky and clever anti-romcom, mild-mannered Max just can’t break things off with his overbearing girlfriend, Mónica. When he tries, in spite of his best efforts, he can’t even get the words out; unfortunately, she assumes that he is proposing. When he turns to his best friends Niko and Rigo, they hand him a business card for the mysterious Abaddon Agency, which specialises in getting rid of any individual who stands in your way. Desperate, Max signs a contract as thick as a book with Abbadon, without bothering to read the fine print.
Deeply affecting and superbly acted, The Kid tells the story of ten-year-old Gonzalo, who lives with his baby sister and great-grandmother in a simple house on the edge of a little unnamed village somewhere in the vastness of Argentina. Despite his young age he must look after his baby sister all by himself, as his mother left a few days ago for reasons that are unclear. While he believes she will soon come home, the others in the village seem to know better. He spends his time wandering between home, a local veterinary run by Julio and his wife Alicia, and the bar run by Felipe. Occasionally he’s pestered about his mother’s whereabouts by the mysterious, desperate Omar. When Lorena, an out of towner, is forced to stay in the village for a few nights when her car breaks down, she starts to unearth some of the village’s secrets, including who Gonzalo’s father might be, and why his mother left.
Argentina (Closing Night)
Master filmmaker Carlos Saura returns to the themes of earlier music/dance films such as Tango, Fados and Flamenco, Flamenco with a beautifully shot film which shows us the past, present and future of Argentina’s rich folk music and dance heritage. Using a complex series of mirrors (to film the artists without impeding them) and gorgeous HD cinematography by Felix Monti, Saura creates and captures staggering performances of traditional Argentine folk styles including Zamba, Malambo and Copla with performances by celebrated figures such as Soledad Pastorutti, El Chaqueño Palavecino, Jairo and Liliana Herrera alongside newer artists and a moving tribute to the legendary Mercedes Sosa and Atahualpa Yupanqui. Lyrical and moving, Argentina is also a glorious reminder that every film should be a passion project.
????? Slant Magazine