Vancouver Latin American Film


Dates and Venues 28 Aug- - 7 Sep | Various Venues

Reviewer Ed Farolan

VLAFF's mission is to provide a forum for the promotion and exhibition of Latin American cinema in Vancouver. This annual festival promotes dialogue among cultures and explores the art of contemporary Latin American cinema through the eyes of its filmmakers and provide audiences with the unique opportunity to watch inspiring films and interact with guest filmmakers from across Latin America.


Lion's Heart (Corazón de León)

Argentina 2013. Dir. Marcos Carnevale

Date and Venue 6 Sep | Cinematheque

This was the Gala Opening Film, and shown again on September 6th. In my opinion, this was the best film of VLAFF 2014. From beginning to end, the audience reacted with laughter, most of the time, and some sadness because...what tall attractive woman could marry a midget? But, like fairy tales coming true, the film had a happy ending to the delight of the audience of this sold-out screening. Director Carnevale did an excellent job in casting Guillermo Francella (Leon), as the 4'6" partner of Julieta Díaz (Ivana), probably almost six feet tall with high heels. At the beginning of the film, when we see how short León is compared to Ivana, we were laughing all throughout. This is a must-see film to see and I'm sure it will be shown again in Vancouver.




Chile/Spain 2004. Dir. Andrés Wood

Date and Venue 2 Sep | Cinematheque

Multi-award winning actress Manuela Martelli was present during this screening and answered some interesting questions from the audience afterwards. She plays Silvana in this film, produced 10 years ago when she was only 19. She plays a younger girl in this excellent movie by multi-awarded director Wood. In this film, she's probably 13 or 14 (she was 19 then), and the film is about three young friends in Santiago in 1973 during the final days of President Salvador Allende before General Pinochet took over in a military coup d’état. Martelli is indeed a brilliant actress. I reviewed The Future (2013) at the VIFF last year, and she is here for Q & A's for another film (Navidad,2009). Both are showing on September 3. In the Q & A session, she said she hasn't had any offers yet from Hollywood, and I think a talent like her will eventually get discovered for "big time" productions.




Habi, The Foreigner (Habi, la extranjera)

Argentina / Brazil 2013. Dir. María Florencia Álvarez

Date and Venue 1 Sep | Cinematheque

I like this film. It puts the Islamic world in a positive light. We are bombarded in the media with the negstive aspects of Islam: suicide bombers, terrorists, etc. But this charning film about Analía ( Martina Juncadella ), a 20-year-old girl from a small town in Argentina who travels to Buenos Aires to deliver some handicrafts for her mother, delivers a nice picture of Muslim Argentinians in Buenos Aires. An address mix-up leads her to a Muslim neighbourhood where she finds herself taking part in a ritual completely unknown to her. She is given several objects that include a tunic, a map and a recipe in Farsi. Enthralled by the new world she has entered, Analía decides to change her identity, and she begins to dress, speak and act like a young Muslim woman. There is a love interest that doesn't work out because she is discovered as someone who's she's not, and at the end, she goes home looking at this experience as part of her journey as a young woman.




Argentina / Perú 2014 Colombia 2014. Dir. Georgina Barreiro

Date and Venue 31 Aug | Cinematheque

We were asked to fill out a yellow sheet after the screening and there were three boxes in the sheet: Excellent, Good and Regular. I guess most of the crowd checked "Regular" for this documentary film because it wasn't bad. The topic is interesting: it explores the spiritual universe of the Shipibo, an Indigenous people who live by the Ucayali river, in the Peruvian Amazon. I felt, though, that it was a bit slow, and some of the shots took too long. Perhaps some more editing is needed.



Dust on the Tongue (Tierra en la lengua)

Colombia 2014. Dir. Rubén Mendoza

Dates and Venue 31 Aug & 4 Sep | Cinematheque

This excellent although tragic-in-context film won Best Film at the Cartagena de Indias Film Festival. Its plot is unique:Silvio Vega, a grandfather approaching the final stage of his life, demands that two of his grandchildren take his life because he wants to die by the hand of someone who bears his own blood. I liked this film despite its tragic ending, because of the twist in the finale where his demand from his grandchildren isn't granted.



The Last Station (La última estación)

Chile / Germany 2013. Dirs. Cristian Soto, Catalina Vergara

Date and Venue 31 Aug | Cinematheque

Director Cristian Soto was in attendance for this one-day screening of this documentary of life in a Chilean nursing home. The focus of the documentary was on the radio station of Father Hurtado’s daily broadcast as residents wait patiently to hear news of those who have passed away, or the sounds of waves and winds, the weather, etc. There were interesting questions from the audience after the film. He said it was a 5-year university project, and they visited around 80 retirement homes north of Santiago. Because of the aging baby boomers, a lot of films about the elderly are a popular topic nowadays, like Gerontophilia and Alive Inside which recently screened at Vancity Cinema.. But what might be interesting for the average pensioner here who gets $1,500 average a month in pensions is to go to a retirement home in Latin America. According to Soto, it costs only 80,000 pesos a month ($160), and I assume, the better homes there, even if one paid $500, would be a good deal. I might consider this when my time comes.



Who is Dayani Cristal?

Mexico / UK 2013. Dir. Marc Silver

Date and Venue 31 Aug | Cinematheque

This was a sold-out house and I guess because all the girls wanted to see the handsome Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal who co-produces this film. Bernal is well-known for social, political and humanitarian films. I reviewed his film No during the 2012 VIFF, and I watched other films including his role as Che Guevara in Motorcycle Diaries. In this documentary film, he retraces the migrant trail of a man with a tatoo on his chest with the letters "Dayani Cristal" as he travels from Honduras to the US-Mexico border. Before the screening, there were speakers who talked about the Mexican woman Lucia Vega Jimenez who hanged herself in a Canada Border Services Agency holding cell at the Vancouver International Airport rather than face deportation. UBC Geography Professor Juanita Sundberg also spoke about the politics involved in the US immigration policies. I ask myself: If First Nations people get special treatment because they were the first settlers of North America, why are Mexicans not given back the lands they owned--California, Texas, Nevada, Colorado, Montana, etc.? Or at least be given special immigration priveleges because of historical ownership?

© 2014 Ed Farolan