OPENING NIGHT FILM
Director: Ernesto Daranas
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Q&A with director Ernesto Daranas after the film
“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts” (C.S. LEWIS)
Chala is eleven years old and lives alone with his drug addict mother. He trains fighting dogs for a living, and this world of violence sometimes surfaces when he is at school. Carmela is his sixth grade teacher, for whom the boy feels affection and respect. One day she becomes ill and must give up the school for several months. The relationship between the veteran teacher and the boy grows stronger, but this mutual commitment may put in jeopardy their ability to continue at the school.
Written and directed by Ernesto Daranas, a Cuban director only slightly known before this film for his previous feature-length work, “Fallen Gods”, Conducta is in many ways an homage to the teacher as a pillar of society. In “Fallen Gods”, Daranas dealt with stories of prostitution in Havana, including the history the ‘oldest profession’ in the streets of Cuba’s capital city. It seems Daranas has a recurring interest in focusing on and paying tribute to professions that go overlooked or underrepresented by society, or perhaps by other filmmakers. Daranas is also a member of the generation of Cuban filmmakers who are experiencing a vast opening of censorship. Similar to Spanish directors after Franco, Cuban filmmakers are able to produce works today that would not have been possible even several years ago.
Although Conducta deals with the school as an institution of government, Daranas does not leave us inside the classroom. In fact, much of the film takes place outside of the school building, on the streets, and in the homes of students and teachers. This creates a sensation of the school as an educational institution which is actually not as rigid as the walls of the building – the process of education goes well beyond the classroom, into the streets and the home. This also places the character of the teacher as a mediator between the government and the student. In this case, the teacher, Carmela (played by Alina Rodríguez) intervenes in the government’s attempt to control the lives of her students, in particular a student named Chala (played by Armando Valdes Freire).
Conducta has won prizes at The Havana Film Festival, The Goya Awards, Malaga Film Festival and many others. It is regarded as one of the best film's to come out of Cuba in 2014. Conducta will play at the Bank of America Theater in the National Hispanic Cultural Center on Friday, September 18th. This is our Opening Night Film, and director/writer Ernesto Daranas will be in attendance, including a question & answer session following the film. This is an amazing film and an amazing opportunity for the community to meet and speak with one of Cuba’s dynamic young filmmakers. See you all there!!
Guatemala: El espíritu de la memoría (2014): directed by Natalia Díaz
Friday, September 18th
UNM College of Fine Arts, Room 2018
Guatemala, el Espíritu de la Memoria
Runtime: 65 min.
Director: Natalia Díaz
Release Date: 2014
Language: Spanish with English subtitles
Guatemala: El espíritu de la memoría (“The Spirit of Memory”), directed by Natalia Díaz, is a documentary that follows two religious leaders as they accompany indigenous communities on the road to resistance, redemption and the rebuilding of collective memory. These two longtime community activists, Catholic priest Rafael Delgado and Lutheran minister José Pilar Cabrera, serve as a guide for us as viewers as we delve into the details of the tremendously complex and persisting issues that face the indigenous communities of today’s Guatemala, issues that include international corporate interest in the exploitation of the nation’s rich resources such as gold and water. Much of these resources reside in the land of indigenous communities, whose land rights have been threatened by outside business interests for centuries, but especially during the modern age.
For 36 years, Guatemala was embroiled in a civil war (1960-1996) between the national government and guerilla forces. This conflict resulted in the genocide of hundreds of thousands of indigenous Guatemalans. Often people would simply “disappear” and massacres went unpunished. The 1996 peace accord which officially ended the war on paper did not change everything on a day to day basis; general impunity regarding systematic violence, terror and oppression continues to this day.
In addition to getting the rare chance to learn from the inside about the work of activists such as Delgado and Pilar, director Natalia Díaz also brings us in this documentary the testimony of Amelia Martínez, a 76-year old human rights activist from Spain. In 1996, Amelia began to collaborate with a Guatemala-based human rights project called REMHI (Recuperation of Historical Memory), a project that was promoted in large part by the Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala. In 1998, the major religious and social leader behind this project, Bishop Juan Gerardi, was assassinated by a group of attackers linked to the National Military of Guatemala.
This assassination seriously shook the nation, especially those indigenous communities who had only recently started to heal and rest hope in such projects, and it served as a reminder that, despite the peace accords, this was no time to feel safe in resistance or activism. In a showing of solidarity, 76-year-old Amelia traveled to Guatemala in 2013 for a memorial service held in honor of Bishop Gerardi, and the director Natalia Díaz followed along with her camera. That was the beginning of the making of this film. Through Amelia and her network of tireless and fearless activists, we meet Father Delgado, Pastor Pilar, as well as many members of the communities with whom they work alongside to rebuild elements of collective and historical memory.
On the film’s official website, director Natalia Díaz explains that there was a common experience amongst all of the activists she met who had spent time working alongside indigenous communities in Guatemala, an experience which served as a major foundation for the ideas behind this documentary. Everyone who has worked with and struggled with the construction of historical memory in Guatemala in the post-Civil War era has been awestricken by the brutal juxtaposition between the beautiful country advertised as a tourist destination and the brutally violent and genocidal regimes that have torn apart so much of the nation in recent history. She mentions that often Guatemala is for foreigners made to seem a place “of eternal spring”, with mountains and lakes and always the picturesque indigenous peoples with their handicrafts and idealized way of life. However, this depiction of Guatemala could not be farther from the truth, and most terrifying is the prospect of us foreigners continuing into our “eternal spring” without truly understanding what has happened in Guatemala and what the stakes are for the people there today.
This is perhaps even more, or at least equally as terrifying as the prospect of Guatemalans themselves not being able to construct enduring collective memories of their own history, due to violence, intimidation, fear, terror, poverty, or whatever else. The director goes on to say: “We have asked ourselves: What can we do from the comfort of our own homes and our safe, stable lives to at least chip away at this enormous wall of unknown information and unheard stories?” The director concedes that there is no one easy answer, but, perhaps, being able to view a documentary is a start. “Our tools are humble, we are far apart, and the media does not talk about us much. But we know that an image is what makes us believe something; we know that a voice and a word can stay recorded in our minds forever. And we hope that this effort can at least plant a small seed.”
We look forward to seeing you all there for the screening of this incredible and moving piece of documentary film from Guatemala. Thank you all and see you there!!
¡CineMagnífico! Albuquerque’s Latino Film Festival is exactly one month away from the opening night of its 3rd annual festival. We are extremely excited this year, with a fantastic lineup of films, new local artists to showcase, and fabulous events for the family and the entire community. Those who have attended in past years will remember the beautiful grounds of the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the gorgeous Bank of America Theater. Join us for a beautiful evening on Friday, September 18th for our opening night presentation, the New Mexico debut of Conducta, an exquisite drama that the Havana Times has recently called a serene and sincere portrait of life in the Cuban capital. This is the second feature film for director Ernesto Daranas Serrano, a highly acclaimed and dynamic, young artist in the Cuban film world. Director Daranas will be attending ¡CineMagnífico! For the state debut of his film on Friday the 18th.
We have a full day Saturday, September 19th, with multiple films showing at two theaters: the Bank of America Theater at the NHCC and the Guild Cinema in Nob Hill! At the Bank of America Theater we will be showing three films during the morning and afternoon, including Messi, a film from Spain about the iconic Argentinian star-player for Barcelona’s legendary football club, and a documentary for the family, Abrazos, which will be followed by a Q&A session with the director. In addition, we will be showing three films at the Guild Cinema in Nob Hill, including the incredible, must-see Spanish blockbuster La isla minima about a mysterious murder in the 1980s in the Spanish ‘deep south’. La isla minima plays at 5PM at the Guild Cinema. At the Bank of America Theater, our Saturday Night Showcase Film, Mr. Kaplan, is a taught comedy-drama from Uruguay about an aging European immigrant, Jacob Kaplan, who thinks he’s discovered a former Nazi in hiding. Mr. Kaplan will play at 8PM in the Bank of America Theater. Back at the Guild Cinema on Saturday night at 9PM, we will also hold a screening of short films at the Guild Cinema.
On Sunday, September 20th, we will show five fantastic films at the Bank of America Theater in the NHCC. Three films from Mexico, Llevate mis amores, Amor de mis amores and Buen Día, Ramon will play at 11 AM, 4PM and 6PM respectively. Buen Dia, Ramon, is a prize-winning box office hit from Mexico that tells the heartwarming story of a young man from a small Mexican town who immigrates to Germany to find work and support his family, but becomes stranded without shelter or employment. It is a strange relationship with a senior citizen named Ruth that changes everything, and transcends the often problematic issues of race, prejudice and international borders. The Argentinian film Mariposa will play at 2PM. Mariposa is a fascinating philosophical drama in which the flapping of a butterfly’s wings separates two parallel realties for Romina’s life, one in which she becomes friends with and falls in love with a boy named German, and another in which she is separated from her biological parents and adopted as German’s sister. Accompanying our Closing Night Film at 8PM, De pez en Cuando, we will have our annual Closing Night Gala at the NHCC, which will be a lovely evening that I hope you all will join. De pez en cuando is a film from the Dominican Republic and, almost in a Garcia-Marquez-esque streak of magical realism, tells the story of a frustrated young writer whose futile and halfhearted suicide attempt is interrupted by an unexpected friend.
We look forward to seeing you all this year. For such an incredible cast of films, events and guest directors, we have to thank all of those who make this incredible event possible for our community here in Albuquerque. First, we have to thank the main organizers, the Bernalillo County Office of Economic Development, The National Hispanic Cultural Center, Instituto Cervantes and The University of New Mexico’s Latin American and Iberian Institute. This year, we would like to extend special gratitude for all of the key support we have received from our major supporters here in our greater-Albuquerque community. We would like to thank all of the fantastic community organizations that support ¡CineMagnífico! Latino Film Festival: New Mexican Women in Film, The Atrisco Heritage Foundation, The Macune Foundation, New Mexico Arts, Douglas Peterson Investments, Dual-Language Education of New Mexico, IATSE Local 480 Film Technicians Union, the Albuquerque Film Office, UNM Department of Spanish & Portuguese and Print New Mexico.
We look forward to seeing everyone at this year’s festival, the 3rd annual ¡CineMagnífico! Latino Film Festival of Albuquerque, which is quickly becoming one of our communities most exciting, dynamic and important cultural events. For more on each of these amazing films that will be showing, I will be posting articles to ¡El Blog! throughout the next month, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for new blog articles with more information on directors, actors, film reviews, international awards, and what to look forward to in this year’s lineup.
Thanks for reading and supporting, and we will see you there!
¡CineMagnífico! Albuquerque’s Latino Film Festival – September 18th, 19th and 20th, 2015
Diamantes Negros, a docudrama that follows two aspiring amateur footballers from Mali as they pursue their dreams to be famous players in the professional European football leagues. Amadou and Moussa, motivated by their desire to make their fathers proud and buy their mothers a brand new house that lacks nothing, realize that their opportunity has arrived when two professional agents offer them a contact to travel to Spain and play for a football club. Once they arrive, however, they find themselves in a nightmarishly unknown world, where people aren’t always as friendly as one might hope, particularly in the cutthroat, corrupted and greedy world of professional football.
Director Miguel Alcantud, a native of Cartagena, Spain, has a penchant for documenting competitive worlds that don’t always rise to the surface for all spectators. Alcantud’s 2007 Anastezsi documented the brutally competitive underground of Europe’s best youth violinists. Here again, we are treated to an eye-opening exposé of youth, talent and the pursuit of dreams in Europe’s most elite echelons of entertainment. The exploitation of youth, particularly the manipulation of their most precious dreams, is at the heart of Diamantes Negros.
Eventually, when Amadou and Moussa’s footballing futures become less promising, we follow them to the streets as they pursue life’s other treasures: happiness, friendship and travel. All the while, Alcantud maintains a realistic eye, and does not reach for Hollywood happiness; rather, he lets his camera show the story, the good and the bad, the victories and defeats. Diamantes Negros is like taking a big drink of pure life, and everything that comes with it.
SHOWING TONIGHT, APRIL 16TH @ 7PM IN THE NATIONAL HISPANIC CULTURAL CENTER
Spanish/Portuguese production, a docudrama directed by Miguel Alcantud, traces the journey of two young boys from Mali across Spain, Portugal, and northern Europe-an odyssey of deceptions and abuses-after they are persuaded to pursue their dream of becoming professional soccer players. Revealing the sordid underground of Europe's most popular sport, the film received the Audience Award (Premio del Público) at the Málaga Spanish Film Festival. 98 minutes; not rated.
If the texture of fabrics could be applied to film, then Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s second feature film, Stockholm (2013), would be cotton. Not because cotton is average or mundane, but rather the contrary; cotton is at once ancient and modern – just like stories of courtship, romance and the search for young love.
Stockholm is a beautiful and poignant romance that deals with the age-old subject of courtship and romantic pursuit, however this ancient narrative subject is set firmly in the modern, contemporary environment. Although Stockholm has gained something of a minor cult status in Spain for its adept portrayal of how it is to search for love as a twenty-something in the millennial generation, much of its appeal actually lies in the universality of the story. The spaces, the contemporary details and, of course, the leading actors (Aura Garrido and Javier Pereira) are firmly positioned in the present moment; however, much of the ultimate power resides in the revelation that so many things stay the same, despite so many changes.
For instance, Sorogoyen aptly portrays courtship, flirtation and the romantic pursuit as being at once everything and nothing; in other words, we try and act casual and comfortable when inside we are all searching for different things. These tensions are central to this beautifully woven story, and have also been the reason that Stockholm has been likened to Richard Linklater’s classic Before Sunrise trilogy. Although the presence of youth and modernity are undeniable in these romantic tales, the timelessness is of equal import. Like cotton, which was at one time an item of incredible luxury and has now become a symbol of casual t-shirt attire and informal, youthful living, Stockholm will leave you wondering about where love and romance fit in with today’s culture and society, and where it doesn’t.
Stockholm won at The Goya Awards and the Malaga Spanish Film Festival, and was nominated for the Audience Choice Award at the Chicago International Film Festival. Stockholm will be showing at the NHCC tomorrow, Thursday, April 9th, at 7:00 pm in the Bank of America Theater. We look forward to seeing you all there as we kick off our series of award-winning contemporary Spanish films!!
During the second annual Cine Magnífico Latino Film Festival, we will all be presented with and reminded of images, sounds and textures of Latin America. But, in the process, we will also be presented with conflicts that are central to all forms of art and human experience.
“Bad Hair”, “The Golden Dream”, “Anina” and “School Days” are just a few examples of how this year’s films take on the conflicts of youth and coming-of-age. “The Lock Charmer”, “My Straight Son” and “Spanish Affair” showcase the power of love and romance to transcend culture and political boundaries.
This cultural-political entity that we call Latin America is infinitely diverse, and the wide variety of settings and characters employed in this year’s film line up serves as a testament to that diversity. That being said, however, there is certainly a sense of what it means to be Latino or Latino American, especially here in the U.S. where cultural lines often become blurry and personal identities difficult to define. In this way, our collective experience at this year’s Latino Film Festival will not necessarily be centered around defining what makes a film a Latino film, or even in the broader sense, what makes a person or a community Latino.
Rather, Cine Magnífico Latino Film festival, supported in conjunction with Instituto Cervantes, the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Latin American & Iberian Institute, is a festival that celebrates art and humanity. While the film lineup is, in part, affected by political boundaries that define what is Latin America, the cultural boundaries that all of us experience on a daily basis are far more fluid than national borders, and rather than centering around nationality or even language, which can serve as agents of division, art and culture are often centered around universal emotions and desires that bind us together.
Rebecca L. Avitia, Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center, beautifully remarked for our blog that “film has the unique ability to transcend the boundaries of culture and language and show that we all have common experiences,” adding that “this year’s extraordinary lineup of films is further proof of that.” We look forward to this year’s Cine Magnífico Latino Film Festival to be a community spectacle in all senses of the term: a place where people convene to enjoy film, together.
“My Straight Son” (“Azul y no tan rosa”) is the Venezuelan actor/writer/director Miguel Ferrari’s first major feature length film, and his ‘opera prima’ that deals with social intolerance against homosexuality won him recognition from around the world, as well as the prize for Best Iberian-American Film at the Goya Awards, Spain’s equivalent to the American Academy Awards. Aside from superb acting, writing and music, the story’s main attack on the ridiculousness of homophobia and its sincere portrayal of family is what brought this Venezuelan film across the borders with such success.
Ferrari stated in an interview with the Spanish film review "El Antepenultimo Mohicano" that in his home country of Venezuela there has always been a ridged taboo against homosexuality, and the few times homosexual characters have actually been presented in Venezuelen cinema, they have been portrayed “through a burlesque and disrespectful perspective”. He added that television and cinema, despite having the power to change social paradigms, is as responsible as any other field of media production for the distorted representation of LGBTI characters and topics that have been disseminated to the public, and above all to the youth.
Ferrari, who left Venezuela to study cinema production in Spain and subsequently returned to produce films in his home country, acknowledged the great risks involved in undertaking a project like “My Straight Son”; despite the good social intentions of the script, if carried out improperly a film such as this can actually run the risk of offending viewers even within the LGBTI community.
However, that has clearly not been the case with this film, which has moved viewers towards the ideal of social openness and understanding in audiences throughout the world. Most importantly, the film has made a great impact in Ferrari’s home country of Venezuela, where the subject of homosexuality has been particularly ignored, even in comparison to other Latin American countries that maintain a similar streak of social conservatism and homophobia within their societies. In the last decade, a couple of important films containing LGBTI subjects came from joint projects involving Argentine, Uruguay and Spain, from the writer/director Lucia Puenzo, a Buenos Aires native.
To see those films, check out “XXY” and “The Fish Child” (“El niño pez”). In addition, the theme of social intolerance is not only confined to topics of sexuality; in fact, “Bad Hair” (“Pelo malo”) will be showing on Sunday at Cine Magnifico, a film that involves filmmakers in Argentina, Venezuela and Peru, deals with similar social pressures that arise from homophobia and engrained class distinctions.
Clearly there is a tide of films with intense messages and depictions of social issues that are often overlooked, left under the table in the proverbial dining room of Latin American culture and society. Look no further than our film lineup this year at Cine Magnifico, not only including “My Straight Son” and “Bad Hair”, but also “The Golden Dream”, which deals sincerely with intense social pressures and culturally ignored subjects.
“My Straight Son” will be a moving and enlightening film screening, not only for Miguel Ferrari’s prize-winning script and cinematic direction, but also for the way this film fits into the rising trends of Latin American cinema over the course of the last two years. “My Straight Son” will be our Showcase Film on Saturday night, September 12th @ 8 PM. See you there for a wonderful showcase presentation!!
Although “The Golden Dream” (“La jaula del oro”) is writer-director Diego Quemada-Diez’s first feature-length film, it is not his first time working with themes and images of Mexico-U.S. immigration.
The Spanish native who is now based out of Mexico City was a camera operator in the 2003 hit film “21 Grams”, directed and written by the renowned duo of Mexico City natives, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu and Guillermo Arriaga.
“21 Grams” is a masterfully designed tale set in various locations throughout the world, one of which includes a woman and two children lost in the desert borderlands between Mexico and the U.S. In “The Golden Dream”, Quemada-Diez draws on the quiet, austere landscapes of the rural areas in Mexico that attract the many north-bound migrants seeking to keep themselves from the eyes of the public as they make their way to the border.
One of Quemada-Diez’s major achievements in this film is his ability to elicit magnificent performances out of three non-professional actors. Quemada-Diez’s “The Golden Dream” which began production in 2013 and was released in Mexico in May of this year, could not have come to the U.S. market at a better time, as the issue of Central American children illegally crossing the border has come to occupy a central storyline for mainstream media outlets since the summer. “The Golden Dream” follows three main characters, teenagers from a village in Guatemala.
In the end, it is that rawness which renders this film a sincere and not sensationalized portrayal of the journey north.
“The Golden Dream”, which won awards at Cannes,
Chicago and Palm Springs, among others, was touted for its honest and direct approach to the portrayal of the heart wrenching and vicious truths of this journey, which has come to occupy a part of the American Dream imaginary, often distorted and simplified, if for no other reason than its perceived commonality or an overall cultural laziness to delve deeply into the truths and realities of those making the journey north every day.
Working on “21 Grams” with Iñarritu and Arriaga, who together are responsible for the films “Amores Perros” and “Babel” in addition to “21 Grams” (that’s 3 Oscar nominations and 1 win), Quemada-Diez could not have been afforded a better learning opportunity for dealing with scenes and images of border crossings – it would be akin to a minor league ballplayer for the Albuquerque Isotopes getting the chance to sit in the dugout with Dodgers all-stars Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw.
This Showcase Film screening is a must see not just for film aficionados, but for everyone in our border-state community interested in truth, sincerity and the ultimate beauty, and irony, of youth and dreams. Don’t miss it!!
Screening Saturday, September 13th @4:30 PM. See you there!!
With films from all over Latin America featured in the second annual ¡Cine Magnífico! Latino Film Festival, the magic of cinema hinges on our community and our blossoming, local scene here in Albuquerque.
The second annual ¡Cine Magnífico! Film Festival will feature films from Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, covering genres from drama to comedy, including a children's animated film and a documentary feature. The themes touch on issues such as regional culture gaps, the trials of coming of age, public education, immigration, gender and sexuality -- and all are set in a Latin American and Iberian context. The films encompass a wide array of styles and tones, from the romantic and magical, to the darkly comedic, to the political and poignant, and to the educative and informative. The filmmakers include both young and veteran directors, and the writers' adaptations draw on various works of Latin American art and media, including regionally broadcasted television shows, news media and popular novels. Not to mention the short film series, which will feature young, up-and-coming, local filmmakers and actors, this section of the festival is one of our most important, particularly in light of the rapidly burgeoning film industry here in Albuquerque. Just this week we watched Brian Cranston, star of the most successful television series in recent imagination, make a point at the Emmy's to mention and thank the State of New Mexico.
As the local industry continues to blossom, ¡Cine Magnífico! has taken a central role as a platform for Latin American and Iberian films and filmmakers within the community. Alejandro Montoya Marin, a young filmmaker who wrote, directed and acted in two of our short films, is exemplary of the growing film community and types of talent the film industry is attracting to the area. Montoya Marin moved here five years ago from Texas specifically for work in film. His two shorts, "The Princess and the Musician" and "The Joneses", were both filmed here in Albuquerque. Montoya Marin, speaking about the artistic environment for local film here in the area, remarked that the growing industry supplements the increasingly commonplace ability for almost anyone to utilize technology and social media as a way to get involved. "More people need to tell their stories," he said hopefully. Having festivals like this will only help plant that seed of artistic inspiration into the hearts of our community. After all, the cinema is only as bright as the eyes in the audience. We are elated that the ¡Cine Magnífico! Albuquerque's Latino Film Festival has once again arrived, and cannot wait to share these films with all of you.