35th Latin American Film Series screens 13 movies for free
The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, UWM Union Programming, Union Theatre and The Department of Film present the 35th annual Latin American Film Series, April 12-19, at UWM Union Theatre, 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Aaron Bethke-Shoemaker, associate outreach specialist at UWM's Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, programmed the festival in collaboration with the Chicago Latino Film Festival.
The festival screens a baker's dozen films from around Latin America and all are free and open to the public. The films are shown in their original language with English subtitles. Please note that the films are unrated and may include content unsuitable for children.
"My favorite film of the bunch is 'Stones in the Sun,'" says Bethke-Shoemaker, "a film that follows the story of three Haitian immigrant families who are making a life for themselves in New York City. It features the famous Haitian author Edwidge Danticat and has an extremely good supporting cast."
But Bethke-Shoemaker adds that a strength of the festival is its diversity.
"I would say that anyone interested in Latin American and Caribbean themes of migration and its causes/effects should find a lot of material to process in our selection of films this year."
The annual event is co-sponsored by UWM Union Sociocultural Programming, the Center for International Education, the Women's Studies Program, the Urban Studies Program, the Office of Global Inclusion and Engagement, the Departments of Anthropology, Art History, Film, History, MALLT, Political Science, Spanish and Portuguese, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Certificate Program, and the major in Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies (LACUSL).
Here is a look at the films on tap this year, with the festival's descriptions:
Clandestine Childhood (Infancia clandestina)
(Argentina, 2012, 112 minutes)
Directed by Benjamin Ávila
Friday, April 12, 7 p.m.
After years of exile, young Juan and his family return to Argentina under fake identities in 1979. Juan's parents and his uncle Beto are members of the Montoneros Organization, which is fighting against the military junta that rules the country. Because of their political activities they are being tracked down relentlessly, and the threat of capture and even death is imminent. However, Juan's daily life is also full of warmth and humor and he quickly integrates into his new environment. His friends at school know him as Ernesto, a name he must not forget, since his family's survival is at stake. Juan accepts this and follows all of his parent's rules until one day he is told that they need to move again immediately, and leave his friends without an explanation. This is a story about militancy, undercover life, and love: the story of a clandestine childhood.
Post Tenebras Lux
(Mexico, 2012, 115 minutes)
Directed by Carlos Reygadas
Saturday, April 13, 7 p.m.
The story of an upscale, urban family whose move to the Mexican countryside results in domestic crises and class friction, "Post Tenebras Lux" is a stunningly photographed, impressionist portrait of a family and their place within the sublime, unforgiving natural world. Director Carlos Reygadas conjures a host of unforgettable, ominous images: a haunting sequence at dusk where his real-life daughter wanders a muddy field with farm animals circling loudly as thunder and lightning threaten; a glowing-red demon gliding through the rooms of a home; a husband and wife visiting a swingers' bathhouse with rooms named after famous philosophers. Both entrancing and mystifying, "Post Tenebras Lux" intensely explores the primal conflicts of the human condition.
The Tiniest Place (El lugar más pequeño)
(El Salvador, 2012, 100 minutes)
Directed by Tatiana Huezo
Sunday, April 14, 5 p.m.
On the surface this is the story of Cinquera, a village literally wiped off the official map during El Salvador's 12-year civil war. Yet, on a deeper level it is a story about the ability to rise, to rebuild and reinvent oneself after a tragedy. Holding the past and present in focus together, "The Tiniest Place" takes us to the tiny village nestled in the mountains amidst the humid Salvadoran jungle, while villagers, survivors of the war's massacres, recount their journey home at war's end. When they first returned their village no longer existed. Nevertheless they decided to stay, and over the years as they worked the land, built new homes and started new families; the people of Cinquera learned to live with the sorrow of the past.
White Elephant (Elefante blanco)
(Argentina, 2012, 110 minutes)
Directed by Pablo Trapero
Sunday, April 14, 7 p.m.
Julián and Nicolás, two priests and long-standing friends, work tirelessly to help the local people of the "Villa Virgen," a shantytown in the slums of Buenos Aires. Julián uses his political connections to oversee the construction of a hospital. Nicolás joins him following the failure of a project he was leading in the jungle, after paramilitary forces assassinated members of the community. Deeply troubled by this, Nicolás finds a little comfort in Luciana, a young, attractive, atheist social worker. As Nicolás' faith weakens, tension and violence between the drug dealing slum cartels grow and when work on the hospital is halted by ministerial decree, the narrative fuse is lit and ready to explode.
Chinese Take-Away (Un cuento chino)
(Argentina, 2011, 93 minutes)
Directed by Sebastián Borensztein
Monday, April 15, 7 p.m.
The bitter and methodic Roberto is a lonely man and the owner of a hardware store; he collects bizarre global news in an album as a hobby. His acquaintance, Mari, has an unrequited love for him but Roberto is always evasive. One day, while he is watching planes land at the airport, Roberto sees a Chinese man named Jun being expelled from a taxi. Jun does not speak Spanish but shows a tattoo with an address on his arm. Roberto takes Jun to the spot and discovers that the place belonged to Jun's uncle who had sold it three and half years ago. Roberto goes with Jun to the police station, to China's embassy and to a Chinese neighborhood to seek out the uncle but it is a fruitless search. Roberto resentfully lodges Jun, then after a series of incidents he finds a delivery boy to translate Chinese and learns the dramatic story of his house guest's life.
The Towrope (La sirga)
(Colombia, 2013, 88 minutes)
Directed by William Vega
Monday, April 15, 9 p.m.
Alicia is restless. Memories of war invade her mind like menacing thunder. Uprooted by an armed conflict, she tries to reshape her life in La Sirga, a neglected hostel on the shores of a great lake in the highlands of the Andes Mountains. There, on a swampy and murky beach, she will try to settle down … until her fears and the threat of war resurface again.
(Chile, 2011, 95 minutes)
Directed by Cristián Jiménez
Tuesday, April 16, 7 p.m.
An aspiring scribe named Julio meets with Gazmuri, an established writer who needs someone to type up the manuscript of his latest novel. Julio applies but ends up not getting the job. Instead of confessing this to Blanca, his neighbor and lover, he decides to make believe he is still transcribing Gazmuri's presumed novel. In reality Julio is actually writing his own novel. Searching for a plot, Julio turns to the romance he had eight years earlier with Emilia, when both were studying literature in the Chilean coastal city of Valdivia.
Memories of Overdevelopment (Memorias del desarrollo)
(U.S., Cuba, 2011, 113 minutes)
Directed by Miguel Coyula
Tuesday, April 16, 9 p.m.
An intellectual leaves the Cuban revolution and "underdevelopment" behind only to find himself at odds with the ambiguities of his new life in the "developed" world. This is a portrait of alienation, of an outsider with no clear-cut politics or ideology: a stranger in a strange land struggling with old age, sexual desire and ultimately, the impossibility for the individual to belong in any society. Experimental in form, Memories of Overdevelopment presents a narrative constructed from a collage of flashbacks, daydreams, and hallucinations. Comprising live-action, animation, and newsreel footage, this film is assembled to suggest the subjective way in which personal memory and emotions work.
Bad Intentions (Las malas intenciones)
(Peru, 2012, 110 minutes)
Directed by Rosario Garcia-Montero
Wednesday, April 17, 7 p.m.
Bad Intentions tells the tale of a period in the life of Cayetana, an eight year old girl growing up in Peru during the early 1980s, when terrorist violence was starting to agitate the country. The story unfolds from the point of view of this intelligent child, who has a somewhat dark and distorted personality. Daughter of separated parents, Cayetana spends most of the time on her own and under the care of servants. After returning from a long trip, the mother, Agnes, gives her daughter some unexpected news: she is pregnant. With this news Cayetana's fragile world collapses. She locks herself in her room and declares that the day her sibling is born will be the day of her own death. Only her imagination and the emergence of the Peruvian national heroes from her textbooks may save Cayetana from an increasingly alienated family environment in a country about to collapse.
The Condemned (Los condenados)
(Puerto Rico, 2013, 90 minutes)
Directed by Roberto Busó-García
Wednesday, April 17, 9 p.m.
Determined to restore her dying father's reputation, Ana travels to the remote Puerto Rican town of Rosales. Decades ago, he settled there and opened his first free clinic for cancer research. He launched an illustrious medical career – and fell in love. Ana plans to celebrate her father's scientific and humanitarian achievements by transforming the old family mansion into a world-class museum. She will preserve his legacy, and also breathe new life into the forgotten Rosales, but the townspeople – now destitute and helpless – do not greet her warmly. Neither does the house.
Father's Chair (A Cadeira do Pai)
(Brazil, 2013, 93 minutes)
Directed by Luciano Moura
Thursday, April 18, 7 p.m.
Theo is living the good life in an upscale Brazilian neighborhood. He's a hardworking doctor, husband, and father. However, Theo has chosen his career over his family, and little by little he discovers that his world is crumbling around him. His beloved mentor and surrogate father is dying, and his wife announces that she wants a divorce. Yet nothing prepares him for the day when he comes home to discover that his 15-year-old son, Pedro, has disappeared. Theo takes to the road in search of his son. In a journey that leads him throughout Brazil, Theo discovers what really matters to him. Searching for his missing son, Theo finds himself.
The Zebra (La cebra)
(Mexico, 2013, 100 minutes)
Directed by Fernando Javier León Rodríguez
Thursday, April 13, 9 p.m.
During the Mexican Revolution, Leandro and Odón, two war vultures, find a zebra. They mistakenly believe this to be an American horse and thus begin a journey in search of General Obregón, who they assume, will appoint them as colonels given their peculiar beast of burden. They partake in several adventures during their journey: escaping from women who enslave them, meeting General Quesada, who wants to establish a new republic, getting lost in the desert and more. When they reach Obregón's troops, a colonel thinks they are Villa's spies and to prove their loyalty one must kill the other.
Stones in the Sun
(U.S., Haiti, 2012, 95 minutes)
Directed by Patricia Benoit
Friday, April 19, 7 p.m.
In the midst of increasing political violence in their homeland, the lives of three pairs of Haitian refugees intersect in 1980s New York City. The first pair, a haunted young woman struggling to forget the atrocities she's experienced, reunites with her husband in Brooklyn, where he barely scrapes by as a cab driver. The second pair, a single mother striving for assimilation in a Long Island suburb, takes in her sister (Edwidge Danticat), a teacher and political activist who is unable to reconcile their violent youth with her sister's seemingly banal lifestyle. The third pair, a newly married man, the host of a popular anti-government radio show, finds his estranged father (a recently ousted military leader) on his doorstep, desperate for shelter. Now, they all must confront the disturbing truth of their pasts, as we slowly learn the history of their interlocked lives.
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