Latino Film Festival Opens

LaCinemaFe screens wide array of Latin American, Spanish, Portuguese films

Through August 23, the Third Annual LaCinemaFe Festival presents films by Latin American filmmakers, including a special retrospective on gay and lesbian themes.

More than 80 titles overall are presented in the festival, including world premieres, exclusive screenings of award-winning films and documentaries and experimental short films offering unique and compelling insights. More than two dozen offerings focus on representations of queer life in Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Spain, Venezuela and Puerto Rico and the rest of the United States.

Among those offerings during the remaining days of the festival are “La Rosa Azul,” Argentinean Oskar Aizpeolea’s artsy, full-length film about a handsome young man who connects with an aging actress and her playwright friend Tomas. The film, in Spanish with English subtitles, at times alternates within the same frame between black and white and color, giving “La Rosa Azul” (“The Blue Rose”) a dreamworld patina.

This otherworldly effect is compounded by having much of the action depicted through the actresses’ plays as presented on stage—sometimes even as plays within the young man’s dreams. Tomas commits “artistic suicide” with a new, avant-garde work, but eventually finds success writing a play in which his actress friend stars.

A scene in which Tomas’ sister Rosa goes crazy and is taken to an insane asylum for a lobotomy is presented as a staging of a modern dance number. “You are a stainless monster!” Tomas cries out to his mother after discovering the news.

When at last everyone he loved is gone, Tomas must take solace in Oscar Wilde’s wisdom that the mystery of life is more difficult to comprehend than the mystery of death.

The film is esoteric, and while it is difficult to discern a linear narrative arc, the camera work is clever, and the director aptly captures the confusion and tenderness of the developing relationship between the two men. See the film at 9:30 p.m. on August 21. Stick around after for the New York premiere of director.

Other feature films on the schedule include the New York premieres of “Dias De Boda” (“Wedding Days”), directed by Spanish director Juan Pinzás (Aug. 20, 10 p.m. and Aug. 22, 4:45 p.m.) and Argentinean director Pablo Sofovich’s film “El Favor” (“The Favor on Aug. 22, 11 p.m.).

Interesting shorts in this program include the New York premieres of three Spanish directors: Guillem Morales’ “Cuarto Oscuro” (“Dark Room” following “El Favor,” on Aug. 22, 11 p.m.) and Teresa Marcos’ “Lencería de Ocasión” (“Bargain Lingerie”), and Paco Diaz Aguilar’s film “Vámonos” (“Let’s Go,” both in a program of lesbian shorts at 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 19). All three of these shorts run for about 15 minutes.

Another one of the lesbian shorts screened that evening is a documentary, “Gladys, Madre Cubana” (“Gladys, A Cuban Mother”) by Spain’s Sergi Mesonero. This 11-minute film takes a look at gay life in Cuba through the eyes of a lesbian mother who has been living a double life. The film makes an analysis of the political and economic situation in Cuba, and the recent evolution that has lesbian women finally coming out and expressing their experiences.

“Positivo” (“Positive”), by director Pilar Garcia Elegido, is an introspective look at the life of a man diagnosed with AIDS, and how he envisions his life will be transformed because of this. Curiously, the film is also screened with the lesbian short program on August 19 at 10:30 p.m.

The films will be judged and awarded in categories including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor/Actress, Best Documentary, Best Short, and Audience Award, tabulated by viewer votes. This year’s distinguished judges include NewFest director Basil Tsiokos; British Theater dramatist María Rivera; Sonia Malfa, program director for the Association of Independent Film and Video Makers; Adelfa Martinez of the cultural ministry of Colombia; Carlos A. Gutiérrez, co-founder and co-director of Cinema Tropical; filmmaker Lucila Moctezuma; Pedro Valiente, the director of New York Spin; and Rogerio Azcarraga, the vice president of the Chamber of Radio and Television Industry Youth Division.

Guests of honor at Cinema Fe include actors, producers and directors from Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Perú, Argentina, Spain and México. They will present their films and will also take part in film discussions. Although some of the films presented in Cinema Fe have a low production value, they are noteworthy in that they offer a glimpse into the artistic depicition of the evolving gay culture of Latino countries.

Visit the festival Website for updates on a closing party for the Gay Film Retrospective at the nightclub Avalon on the weekend of August 21.

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