Finding a Wider Audience By Xavier-Daniel

in 30th Havana International Festival of the New Latinamerican Cinema

by Xavier-Daniel

In Spain, there are two film festivals that specialize in Latin American movies. The first is the Huelva Iberoamerican Film Festival which takes place in Andalusia, in the south of Spain; the second is the Mostra Internacional de Cinema Llatinoamerica de Lleida, in Catalonia. Both film festivals schedule many films from Latin American countries, with a high quality of selections. But when the festivals are over, distributors decline to release these films, leaving Spanish cinemagoers with no opportunities to see films from Latin America.

One way to bring such films to general-release audiences is the co-production. Spanish producers are making films in collaboration with Mexico, Cuba and Venezuela, offering a unique chance to create films of guaranteed quality. When the Cuban filmmaker Edesio Alejandro introduced his documentary Los 100 Sones de Cuba at the 30th edition of the Havana Film Festival, he explained that in order to shoot his film, he had put the modest budget together independently, avoiding foreign producers who might add conditions or suggestions that would compromise his vision.

In any case, the recent productions show no impositions, but a deeper understanding of supporting any work. The most important co-productions are receiving awards in many film festivals and some films are well-recognized and celebrated internationally by film critics and audiences around the world.

Fifteen years ago, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea and Juan Carlos Tabío’s Strawberry and Chocolate (Fresa y chocolate) demonstrated that a successful Spanish-Cuban co-production could be distributed throughout the world. Through this prestigious Latin American film, a worldwide audience could understand a different social reality. Due to the influence of American distributors, we cannot watch films from Latin America or Europe. This cinema is completely unknown to us.

Currently, we would like to see new productions made about a social taboo in macho Latin society: Homosexuality. Produced in 2007-2008 were the following films: Santiago Otheguy’s La Léon, from Argentina; Gonzalo Justiniano’s Lokas, a Chilean-Mexican co-production; Raúl Marchand Sánchez’ Manuela y Manuel, from Puerto Rico; and Dady Brieva and Gerardo Vallina’s Más que un hombre, from Argentina, which won the audience award for Best Feature Film at the 2008 Barcelona International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

This is our goal: the screenings must not be restricted to the Latin American circuit, and should provide general Spanish audiences with a chance to know other cultures and other important social realities.