The Latin-American Cinema: An Everlasting First Film By Luciano Castillo

in 22th Guadalajara Film Festival

by Luciano Castillo

It’s been twenty years since the Argentinean Carlos Sorin broke into the film panorama with his film A King and His Movie (La película del Rey, 1985). Ever since, almost every year, in one of the many film festivals, a new filmmaker from Latin-America has a film in competition. “Imagination covers what the budget cannot pay for”, declared Sorin, on his debut.

A King and His Movie is not only the story of the adventures, ventures and misfortunes of a young filmmaker full of dreams, but an allusion to the dilemma of the hazardous enterprise of shooting at any cost in any Latin-American country. The odyssey of the character becomes the metaphor of the passion of the creators, full of uncertainty and anxiety at the risks. The obstacles are a constant challenge assumed with never-ending creativity.

Even though this Argentinean feature film tells a timeless, universal story, it can be set in any context, the protagonist is not only Sorin’s alter ego, but is an example of many other Latin-American filmmakers trying to put their concerns on screen. The XX International Film Festival of Guadalajara confirms that neverending confluence of films by new filmmakers, with a great story and stylistic plurality into the main stream of Latin-American films.

In the programme names of veterans like Miguel Littin (La última luna), Fernando E. Solanas (Memorias del saqueo), Patricio Guzmán (Salvador Allende) or Silvio Caiozzi (Cachimba) were alongside other directors showing their first films. Out of the six Mexican films in competition, four were by new directors: Agustin Oso Tapia with Euthanasia Club (Club Eutanasia), Alejandro Valle with Stories of Disenchantment (Historias del desencanto), Jaime Aparicio with The Magician (El Mago) and Ricardo Benet with Distant News (Noticias lejanas). Benet (born in Xalapa, Veracruz, 1962) won Best Director by the official jury.

Among the Latin-American films in competition, the Argentinean Anahi Berneri was a surprise with the toughness of A Year Without Love (Un año sin amor), the same for Martin Desalvo and Vera Fogwill for their bitter sweet comedy Kept and Dreamless (Las mantenidas sin sueños). The Colombian Ciro Guerra is also someone to have in mind in a near future for his unconventional first film: The Wandering Shadows (La sombra del caminante).

If we consider the rules of some festival like Bogota which includes the second film made by a filmmaker, then the Ecuadorian director Sebastian Cordero with the strength of Crónicas, overtakes the expectations created by Rodents (Ratas, ratones, rateros, 1999); the contrary is to the Argentinean Lucrecia Martel that with Holy Girl (La Niña Santa) didn’t have the resonance of The Swamp (La ciénaga , 2001). Another young Argentinean Lisandro Alonso, after La libertad, confirmed with Los muertos, his peculiar conception of fiction cinema. The talent of the Uruguayans Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll is consecrated in Whisky something you already could see in 25 Watts (2001).

“Bless the bold, because the kingdom of cinema will be theirs”, was the promotional phrase for the poster of the film A King and His Movie. Let’s welcome this choir of new voices of directors showing boldness, and taking strong steps on the unknown road of contemporary cinema.