HELEN MUSA’s weekly arts column features opening concerts and shows in Canberra
The Embassies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela have partnered to bring the festival to cities throughout the country and while it originally began in Canberra, last year the event reached 11 towns, including many in regional Australia.
Each year a different Latin American mission is in charge of coordinating the festival and this this year it is Mexico’s turn, with Santiago Ballina, the political, media and culture attaché at the Embassy of Mexico liaising with all of the other 13 countries to decide on the final line-up.
Mexico’s contribution, “Guten Tag, Ramón” (Good Day, Ramón) directed by Jorge Ramírez Suárez tells the heart-warming story of a young man from a small Mexican town who travels to Germany to find work to support his family and becomes stranded, until he meets Ruth, a lonely senior citizen with whom he develops an astonishing friendship that transcends borders and prejudices.
In marked contrast, Argentina’s choice, “El peso de la ley” (The weight of the Law) directed by Fernan Miras, is a crime drama telling of Gloria, a lawyer who has to defend a man accused of rape in a small town where no one believes his story.
While most of the films are either dramas or thrillers, the selection also includes historical films, documentaries and comedies.
While believing it to be a source of talent, colour and rich stories, the ambassadors have been well aware over the years that their cinematic tradition is underrepresented on Australian screens, and with all of the festival’s screenings free of charge, the hope is to welcome in the wider public.
The event has long been supported by the Council on Australia Latin America Relations and the Australian National Centre for Latin American Studies at the ANU, but the big news for 2018 is that the ANU Film Group has partnered with the Latin American Film Festival for the first time.
ANU Film Group spokesperson, Brett Yeats, this year’s will be the biggest ever. The group, he said, was hoping for record attendances chances of achieving this were good because the University’s Coombs Theatre, where 2018 screenings will take place, is easy to access and with plenty of free parking nearby.
The Latin American Film Festival in Canberra, HC Coombs Theatre, ANU campus, August 9-27, free. All details at anu.edu.au/events/latin-american-film-festival-in-canberra