Archive for the ‘latin american cinema’ category

ND/NF: Enrique Rivero dramatizes the life of a forgotten man in Parque Via

April 1, 2009


Beto is lonely. In Parque Via, he is the caretaker and sole inhabitant of a house owned by a wealthy Mexico City family, which has been on the market for a decade. Beto has restructured his existence around routine and solitude. Director Enrique Rivero lets us wander through the monotony of the everyday and like Beto, find comfort in it.

The film is well-paced; Rivero offers the audience time to breath, but not enough to think about the laundry we should’ve done. Parque Via instantly brings to mind Jeanne Dielman, with the repetition of Beto’s daily routine and the way it builds to a startlingly violent climax. Although Parque Via is more a meditation on solitude and character study, then a feminist statement. Still Rivero slides a comment or two into his movie, showing the disparity of the class system in Mexico City, where a large part of the citizens either have chauffeurs or are chauffeurs.

The caretaker in Parque Via is so accoustumed to his solitary existence that the prospect of the house’s sale would signify the end of Beto. In this way the film makes me think of Taxi Driver and the manner in which two very different characters deal with loneliness similarly; each limits their interaction with the world and lives in what is more or less a tomb (for Beto it’s the empty house and Travis Bickle it’s the taxi). Like Travis, Beto has his own whore/friend/confidant, Lupe. And yet Lupe is not a girl to be saved, but rather a means to incorporate sex and friendship into Beto’s routine (Lupe is always on time).

Parque Via is minimalist, realist and humanist. Rivero charms the audience with the gentle, peculiar, loyal Beto and propels the movie with one question: how, without this house, will Beto live?

-Melanie Shaw, ND/NF New Voice

Buy Tickets: Sat Apr 4: 9 (MoMA)
Sun Apr 5: 1:30 (FSLC)

Inside the NYJFF: Exploring The Fire Within

January 22, 2009


“You don’t often ask a person of his religion the first time you meet; but in light of the film he made about the conversion process of a Peruvian community in the Amazon basin, I felt comfortable asking The Fire Within director Lorry Salcedo Mitrani whether he was Jewish. The story he told me revealed as much about the subjects of his documentary as his own personal history.

Lorry’s grandfather was a Sephardic Jew from Turkey. He was sent by his parents to New York to avoid persecution, did not like it and continued to Peru. There, he met his future wife, a Catholic woman with whom he started a family. He was one of two Jews in his town, and was always referred to as ‘el judio’ (the Jew) but did not experience anti-Jewish sentiments. They decided to raise the boys as Jewish and the girls as Catholic. Lorry, a descendant through his mother, was brought up Catholic, but had Jewish uncles and cousins with whom he went to synagogue, participated in Bar Mitzvahs and Jewish weddings and did not experience it as a bizarre situation.  Lorry’s grandfather died when Lorry was 12 and his memories of him are as the weird grandfather who spoke Ladino.

Still, Lorry’s interest in his own ancestry drove him to begin telling the story of the Jewish immigration of Peru in photography, starting in 1990. After researching in many family archives, he became aware of the Jewish community in Iquitos and found himself fascinated by the way the group combined indigenous customs with Judeo-Christian faith.  In 2002 Salcedo published the book (The Eternal Return: Homage to the Jewish Community of Peru) and decided that the story of the Jews of Iquitos needed to be made into a film. He met Ariel Segal, a South American born historian who was working in Iquitos documenting the lives and history of the community aka the ‘mestizos’. There was a genuine yearning of the people to formally convert. As a puzzle waiting to be completed, the film maker and the historian followed the hard work of the people of the congregation and the rabbis who worked together toward the goal of conversion and immigration to Israel.

The experience of Lorry’s grandfather is parallel to the protagonists in his film.  Both found a way to mix religions into their families. Salcedo became aware and interested in Jewish themes later in his adulthood and feels it was a part of his creative process in making the film.   He describes himself as a visual anthropologist who translates social stories and issues into artistic visual language.”

-Ronit Waisbrod, New York Jewish Film Festival correspondent

Check out The Fire Within at the Jewish Museum: Tue Jan 27: 3 & 6:30

[More about Lorry and his works on his website]

[From Nextbook: Hidden Roots in the Jungle]

Inside the NYJFF: Recovering “Our Disappeared”

January 20, 2009

Lots of us are guilty of furtively googling exes. But when filmmaker Juan Mandelbaum typed in the name of his ex-girlfriend Patricia, he was in for a shock: she was among thousands in Argentina who were kidnapped, tortured and then “disappeared” by the military during the 1976-1983 dictatorship.

Cine Latino en Nueva York blogger (and frequent filmlinc blog guest) Christian Del Moral spoke with the filmmaker about his process and inspiration for the film Our Disappeared.

Christian Del Moral: I did the same google search as you, “Patricia Dixon Argentina”, and I was happy to see that the first results were about “Our Disappeared” your documentary! A very personal and powelful one. Do you wish there was more information about Patricia back then?

Juan Mandelbaum: Thanks for your comments on the film. If I had initially found out more details about Patricia’s story perhaps I wouldn’t have embarked on my journey, and might not have made the film. The shock would have been equally strong, but I guess that sometimes it’s good if Google doesn’t give you all the answers and forces you to talk to people to learn more.

CD: Were you afraid that “Our Disappeared” might turn into another documentary about the people who were killed by the military. And what makes your film different?

JM: I always knew that it would be different. For one, these stories had never been told before and had particularly dramatic aspects that had never appeared in any other film. More importantly, I was searching for a very intimate look into this tragic period, told from my point of view and therefore inevitably unique.

CD: One of the key moments of the film, is when Ruth Weisz, a Jewish mother that lost her son and daughter in law, talks about the biggest curse in Jewish religion: not being remembered. Was that your main motivation for this documentary, to remember and honor your friends?

JM: Yes, the whole film for me has been an intense exercise in memory. I dug up all kinds of materials, photographs, clippings, outtakes from super-8 films, diaries that helped me remember my own story.  And by letting the families tell their stories I hope it will help remember not just these cases but the thousands of others who disappeared.

CH: You visited the Navy Mechanics School where Patricia might have been tortured and killed. What was going through your mind?

JM: We went there twice. The first time we had a number of shots to cover so I was almost numbed in the process. But there was a shot going down the same stairs that the detainees used that was important to me that was out of focus so on another trip we went again, this time with another cameraman who was doing some pick up work. And the second time it all hit me. As I went up the stairs I felt that Patricia and the others would have been clutching the banister as they were led blindfolded and shackled and they were taunted and hit by the military. At one point I just embraced my producer, who herself was almost taken there as an eight year old (!) and we both broke down. Incredibly the shot was out of focus again!  But it didn’t matter.

CD: How was the responds from the first screening at the NYJFF?

We had an almost full house, a wide mix of people.  Young, old, Argentine, Jewish film festival regulars.  At the end you always expect people to leave when the Q&A starts and no one left! The questions and reactions were great, everyone was very moved by the film.

Buy tickets to see Our Disappeared: Tue Jan 20: 8:30
Wed Jan 21: 3:45

“I wanted to break all the rules” says Wadley director Matias Meyer

September 12, 2008
Marcela Goglio introduces Matias Meyer, director of Wadley, during Latinbeat '08

Marcela Goglio introduces Matias Meyer, director of Wadley, during Latinbeat

Matias Meyer’s Wadley had it’s first screening as a part of Latinbeat ‘O8 last night at the Walter Reade. The film, following the wanderings of one man, has almost no dialogue. It begins on the outskirts of town with a kind of jerky, handheld realism and as the central figure wanders into a long, peyote-fueled desert sojourn, the film shifts in tone, visuals and sound.

“I wanted the film to be hypnotic,” said director Meyer during a Q & A after the screening. “You have to be patient with the film in the first 15-20 minutes and then I take you on a trip through the Mexican desert.”

The shooting of Wadley was a trip in more ways than one. Director Meyer and his small crew drove from Mexico City and spent four days shooting their 60 minute feature in the north central part of the Mexican desert. The consumption of small amounts of peyote figured into the creative process, the director said.

The town of Wadley sprang up around a train station established when the region was a boomtown for miners, the director explained. Now the place is a kind of a ghost town, the perfect point of departure for the main characters hallucinogenic ramblings.

The filmmaker’s collaborative approach to production and post-production produces some stark effects in the film, such as the haunting sound of a buzzing cicada that reoccurs throughout the film, and in striking photographic depictions of the natural landscape.  Meyer explained that he presented his footage to a composer and sound designer and let them run with their inspiration. He credits his training as a photographer with this openness: “When you go out and observe, magical things happen.”

Wadley will screen at the Walter Reade on Sunday, September 14th at 1PM, and Wednesday, September 17th at 5:30 PM, as a part of Latinbeat, a month-long celebration of Latin American filmmaking.

Richard Peña talks Latinbeat with the New York Sun

September 11, 2008

Along with lauded Puerto Rican director Jacobo Morales, The Film Society’s Richard Peña gives the Sun’s Martin Tsai the scoop on Latinbeat ’08, including why Chilean and Argentinean films are generating a lot of buzz during the event this year, the challenges Latinbeat honoree Jacobo Morales has faced in establishing Puerto Rican cinema, and how strong the Latin American presence is in this year’s New York Film Festival.

Innovative newcomers set the tone at Latinbeat ‘08

September 4, 2008

Lines of dialogue in the shimmering, hallucinatory Wadley: 0

Number of hours Rodrigo Marín spent shooting his debut feature The Girls: 24

Number of stories woven into two uninterrupted, 40 minute takes in Still Orangutans: 6

For film lovers who appreciate innovative technique and independent spirit, this year’s Latinbeat series at the Film Society of Lincoln Center showcases the some of the most exciting young filmmakers behind the lens today anywhere in the world.

In recent years, Latin American filmmakers have been grabbing the spotlight with their audacious visions, in films like Alejandro González Iñárritu’s gripping Amores Perros (a NYFF selection in 2000), Alfonso Cuarón’s tender Y Tu Mama Tambien (NYFF 2001), and Brazil’s kinetic City of God.

With its strong focus on young, debut filmmakers, Latinbeat ’08 offers cinephiles the chance to discover the blockbuster indie talent of next year. And with 28 films from ten countries in one month-long event, Latinbeat is not characterized by a single type of film but rather a vibrant diversity:

  • Comedies: The comedies in this year’s line up run the gamut from wacky romps like Chile Puede, in which the hapless solo member of Chile’s aeronautics program is stranded in space, to affectionate social satires like The Pope’s Toilet, which follows rakish smugglers as they try to capitalize on the Pontiff’s visit to Brazil. Merrily blending plot lines, time sequences and even genres, Scrambled Beer is a fun black comedy that tracks scrappy Vladimir through a truly earth-shattering bender.
  • Hard-hitting investigations: Kill them All is a docu-drama that takes a searing looking inside Operation Condor and the legacy of human rights abuses in Uruguay and elsewhere in Latin America, while Man of Two Havanas is documentarian Vivien Lesnick Weisman’s portrait of her father Max Lesnick, a polarizing figure in the Cuban exile community.
  • Gripping capers: Part thriller and a whole lot of action film, with sparks of very black humor, Dog Eat Dog follows two hitmen in Cali, Colombia and makes a nod to Tarantino in its form and style. Documentary The Old Thieves examines a generation of real-life thieves who were famous in 1960s Mexico for their exploits and the wild success they enjoyed in the process.

Sample the range: A series pass is an excellent way to sample the diverse offerings of Latinbeat ’08: it admits one person to five titles in the Latinbeat 2008 series. $40 public/$30 Film Society member. Available only at the Walter Reade Theater box office (cash only transactions).