Film series celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

By ANNE HOLLMULLER | October 12, 2017


FOCUS FEATURES/ CC BY-SA 3.0 Alejandro González Iñárritu won Best Director at the 2014 Oscars.

The Maryland Film Festival and PNC Bank are paying homage to Hispanic Heritage Month by hosting the Latin American Visionary Cinema series. Screenings began on Sept. 16 and will continue through Oct. 15.

The series includes screenings of 12 films from filmmakers across the Latin American community. These films span an array of genres and represent 10 countries.

Many of them are also films that were not widely distributed in theaters across the U.S., so this series was an opportunity for audiences to view films that they may not have had access to otherwise.

The series includes four films by Mexican directors: Fernando Eimbcke’s Club Sandwich, Adrián García Bogliano’s Here Comes the Devil, Betzabé García’s Kings of Nowhere and Carlos Reygadas’ Post Tenebras Lux.

Representing Costa Rica is Cold Water of the Sea, directed by Paz Fábrega.

Meanwhile Patricio Guzmán represents Chile with Nostalgia for the Light.

Argentinian director Lisandro Alonso’s Jauja is another film that has been included in the series’ lineup.

Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent jointly represents Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina.

Guatemala is represented by Jayro Bustamante’s Ixcanul, and the festival chose to include Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Neighboring Sounds from Brazil. The series will conclude this Saturday with Cuban director Enrique Álvarez’s drama Venice.

Venice follows three female friends, Monica, Violeta and Mayelin, over the course of an evening in Havana, Cuba.

All three women work as hairdressers at the same hair salon to make ends meet. On the night the film takes place, however, they make a spur-of-the-moment pact to spend their paychecks on going out on the town.

Venice is a study of the bonds between the trinity of women and how they evolve, as well as a study of each individual character in and of herself.

The improvised nature of much of the dialogue combined with Álvarez’s unflinching exploration of parts of Cuba’s more grimy, less picturesque side helps give the film an organic quality; you feel like these women and their stories could be real.

National Hispanic Heritage Month began on Sept. 15 and continues until Oct. 15 and celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of people of Spanish, Mexican, Caribbean and Central and Southern American descent.

Sept. 15 was chosen as it is celebrated as Independence Day in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The month had its symbolic end with the celebration of Día de la Raza, or Day of the Race, on October 12.

The Parkway series is a wonderful complement to the admirable successes of Hispanic directors in mainstream film.

Two well-known Latin American directors who have found recent success in Hollywood are Mexican directors Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón.

Cuarón and Iñárritu are the only Latin Americans to win both the Academy Award and the Directors Guild of America award for Best Director.

In 2014, Iñárritu won the Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).

Iñárritu also won the 2015 Best Director Oscar for The Revenant, the Alaskan wilderness epic that won Leonardo DiCaprio the Academy Award for Best Actor which the Internet so earnestly believed he deserved.

Iñárritu’s virtual reality project “Carne y Arena” was first presented at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival and later featured at the Prada Foundation in Milan. It is now showing at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

This virtual reality exhibition focuses on the experiences of refugees and immigrants, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the lives and struggles of Mexican and Central American refugees through a six-and-a-half minute virtual reality sequence.

Perhaps there is something implicitly political about the choice to showcase artistic excellence in Latin American film in the age of a president who threatens to build a wall across the Southern border.

In the time of Trump’s presidency, celebrating the vibrancy and diversity of Hispanic art is now a revolutionary act.

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