The Taiwan Latino Film Festival 2011, the newest installment of the regular POP Cinema mini-festivals, introduces Latin American films to local audiences on an unprecedented scale. The movie showcase comprises 26 award-winning films, from 17 Latin American countries, that have never before shown in Taiwan.
“Latin American cinema has been neglected for such a long time ... When I previously programmed film festivals, we were unable to properly cover the region because of language and geographic barriers,” said seasoned curator Christine Tsui-hua Huang (黃翠華), who has served as a director at the Taipei Golden Horse Film Festival (金馬影展) and Woman Make Waves Film Festival (女性影展), and organized the Taiwan Latino Film Festival with Mexican scholar and former ambassador Jorge Pinto.
Pinto helped source works not only from countries that have relatively strong film industries, like Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Argentina, but also nations, such as Nicaragua, not known for their movie-
Through the selected works, audiences have a rare chance to gain insights into the region’s past and present.
The subjects of history and national trauma are particularly resonant in the works of Chilean maestros Raul Ruiz, Patricio Guzman and Miguel Littin, all of whom went into exile in Europe after dictator Augusto Pinochet assumed power in 1973.
Nostalgia for the Light by acclaimed documentary director Guzman, for example, is a poetic work that focuses on the Atacama Desert, where women look for the remains of loved ones who disappeared during Pinochet’s regime.
Female directors are a strong presence on the festival lineup. In The Tiniest Place, Salvadoran director Tatiana Huezo returns to her hometown, where the inhabitants struggle to move on with life after the country’s civil war (1980 to 1992) ends. Meanwhile, blackly comic Postcards From Leningrad is a biographic work that recalls director Mariana Rondon’s life as a little girl, when her parents fought as guerillas in 1960s Venezuela.
What: Taiwan Latino Film Festival 2011 (2011台灣拉美影展)
When and Where: Until Jan. 6, 2012, at Spot — Taipei Film House (台北光點), 18, Zhongshan N Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市中山北路二段18號), Dec. 30 to Jan. 5, 2012, at Kaohsiung Film Archive (高雄市電影館), 10 Hesi Rd, Greater Kaohsiung (高雄市河西路10號)
Admission: Tickets are NT$200 (NT$170 for Spot members) in Taipei, and NT$80 in Kaohsiung, available through NTCH ticketing outlets or online at www.artsticket.com.tw
On the Net: www.twfilm.org/taiwan-lation
“People think Latino societies are macho. But that’s not true. Women are the driving force in culture,” Pinto said.
Other topics include the issue of immigration, which is explored in Jean Gentil from the Dominican Republic. Based on the real-life story of Jean Remy Genty, the film’s leading actor, the documentary-like movie tells the tale of a Haitian who speaks five languages and has a master’s degree and yet finds himself scrambling around to find work.
Given Latin America’s ethnic tensions, economic woes and drug and crime problems, perhaps the most surprising sentiment expressed in many of the festival works is optimism. La Yuma from Nicaragua, for example, tells the story of a young woman who escapes life in a slum to become a successful boxer.
“Except for the three most European countries [in the region] — Argentina, Uruguay and Chile — most Latin American countries are optimistic ... People are not afraid of life, and are willing to take risks, and they believe the future is going to be better,” Pinto said.