IT’S nearly time for the 10th Latin American Film Festival to open at the NGA and it’s hard to wipe the collective smiles from the faces of three keen film-loving Latin American ambassadors, assembled at the Peruvian residence to tell “CityNews” of the 2014 offerings.
Chief organiser this year is Luis Quesada, ambassador for Peru, chosen by his peers because of the big exhibition “Gold and the Incas”, which has given such a profile to Peru.
To Pedro Villagra Delgado, Argentine ambassador and dean of the diplomatic corps in Canberra, the link between the festival and the NGA – “Australia’s most important cultural institution” – is essential to its success.
As well, DFAT’s Council on Australia Latin America Relations supports them, allowing the event to be seen in other Australian cities.
Uniquely, Delgado explains, this festival is Australia-wide, but it begins in Canberra and sets its standards by Canberra’s highly educated population.
Ecuadorian ambassador, Raúl Gangotena, admits that while he’s always been a keen follower of Argentine and Mexican films, he had never, before Canberra, seen a film from either Paraguay or El Salvador.
Each of the 12 Latin American missions involved chooses its own film, usually from a list of top films for which permission to screen has already been obtained by their ministries.
It’s not the usual way of curating a festival, but Daniel Reategui from the Peruvian Embassy, who is helping organise the event, assures “CityNews” that there is a full range of genres.From Venezuela, for instance, comes “The Zero Hour”, an action movie, while Brazil has come up with a kind of romantic comedy involving science fiction and rock ‘n’ roll in “The Man from the Future” and Colombia, too, has a comedy in “Sofia and the Stubborn”. El Salvador has a historical documentary.
This year, Peru is the first cab off the rank with “Undertow”, shot in Cabo Blanco of Hemingway fame, about (of course) a fisherman whose sexual and emotional inclinations swing both ways.
“It’s not accurate to call it a gay film because it is a psychological piece,” Quesada asserts.
Gangotena jumps in to tell of Ecuador’s film, “The Name of the Girl”, cast with children aged 12-14, but definitely not a children’s film. Set on a farm, it is a story of enlightenment that, like many of the films selected, shows conflict between urban and rural traditions and superstitions.
“It’ll make a change from the horrible movies that are made in the States,” the ambassador says.
Argentina’s contribution, “The Water at the End of the World”, is about two troubled sisters who fall for the same accordion player and it may or may not involve a trip to Tierra del Fuego. The music is by real-life accordion maestro Chango Spasiuk.
10th Latin American Film Festival, National Gallery of Australia, daily 2.30pm and 6.30pm, April 3-14. Free event, all films are subtitled in English. Full program at nga.gov.au/laff/