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Cine Latino: Collaborative and breathtaking

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Featuring filmmakers from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela. Experience the sights, the sounds and stories of Latin America. 

Screening at Palace Electric at New Acton from this coming Wednesday through to Sunday 21 August, this promises to be a fiesta of films at Cine Latino. In fact, there is a mini Mexican Fiesta as part of it! Seriously! Next Saturday evening there will be a fiesta before the special event screening of I Promise You Anarchy. Not what you would call a ‘typical’ Mexican film (if there is such a thing) I am suspecting a touch of Dusk Till Dawn in the tale of streetwise skateboarders who sell their blood on the black market. But I haven’t seen it so I could be wrong.

It certainly sounds worth the trip to the cinema.

The opening night film Neruda, is a collaboration between Chile, Argentina, France and Spain (relax, the subtitles are in English). Starring the delicious Gael García Bernal and directed by the acclaimed Pablo Larraín I can only describe it as being a film of interior life. Neruda is a poet accused of betraying the Communist government and on the run with his wife. He is pursued by a very second-rate detective (Bernal) in what seems to be an allegorical chase where the poet not only leaves clues for the policeman but also seems to put words in his mouth.

I left the film believing that almost everything had actually taken place in the poet’s head … but again, I could be wildly wrong. The night of the preview was cold and concentrating on a film in a warm cinema, when most of the characters stand in still contemplation for minutes at a time may have been more than my aged brain could manage!

Bernal is known internationally (next time you are Netflixing, watch Mozart in the Jungle) and the production, as said above, is truly international – so this may have prompted the opening night placement. However, is a dreamlike, philosophical film the best way to fire up audiences for a festival?

The Violin Teacher, fittingly from Brazil, is the centerpiece of the festival. It follows the fortunes of a former child prodigy. A violinist who has never fulfilled his early promise and failed his last chance, Laerte winds up in the largest slum in Latin America, teaching unruly, illiterate teenagers music. Sounds gutsy and uplifting (or tragic, depending how the story ends).

The closing night film Argentina is a co-production of Spain, France and Argentina. A high concept dance extravaganza ‘showcasing the past, present and future of Argentina’s rich folk music and dance heritage’, it was filmed almost entirely within a converted warehouse, with cameras and mirrors placed to allow the dancers to take full flight. Including the dance styles of zamba, malambo and copla, this film was directed by Carlos Saura. I haven’t seen it but I have seen the same director’s film Tango, which was part live performance, part Hollywood sound stage and entirely breathtaking.

These films may be the featured highlights but as with any international festival, it may be that the smaller, quirkier films are the real treasures. So even if you can’t make the ‘big’ nights, make it to Palace Electric for at least one of the films in this celebration of Latin life.

Find out more about Cine Latino and purchase session tickets here.

Roslyn saw Neruda as a guest of Palace Electric Cinema.

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