Young People in Latin American Films By Fernando Palumbo

in 22nd Guadalajara Film Festival

by Fernando Palumbo

I think that writing about a Uruguayan movie is a good subject taking into consideration an international festival of this kind. The cinema in my country is underdeveloped, every year the public and the critics are waiting for a good film that will make us known all over the world. Besides this we have a large cultural tradition in other arts. The problem is we don’t have any support from the government or a financial sponsor for our productions.

The exhibition of The Dog Pound (La Perrera) in this friendly and wonderful festival (near to the big USA film industry but with an enormous compromise for Ibero-American cinema) is a great opportunity to make us known to other countries which are very far in many ways from the very south of this America . There aren’t many opportunities for our cinema to be shown far from home. The last time we had an awarded film in many festivals was with the film Whisky (Rubella and Stoll). Nobody knows about our productions and, as can be seen in this festival’s catalogue The Dog Pound appears to be made by Spain and Canada when the director Manuel Nieto was born and grew up in Uruguay.

Changing the subject and writing about the films we could see in this enormous event at the capital of the Jalisco state, most of them include as the main character young and poor people fighting alone against this cruel third world where we live. Examples of these films are the excellent Alice’s House (La Casa de Alicia) by Chico Teixeira and Bad Habits (Malos Habitos) from Mexico with Simon Bross as the director. There was also Happy Desert (Desierto Feliz) a Brazilian movie by Paulo Caldas; Drained (O Cheiro do Ralo), a Brazilian production directed by Heritor Dhalia; How Far It Is (Que tan Lejos) from Ecuador by Tania Hermida; Black Butterfly (Mariposa Negra) by the very popular director Francisco Lombardi, possibly one of the most disgusting pictures in his long career. The emotive Two Loves Stories (Dos abrazos), a Mexican movie directed by ingenious Enrique Begne and Transe, a Portuguese film made by Teresa Villaverde, is also a heavy tale. For many reasons I can’t describe why this moment during the festival brings to my mind the unforgettable and memorable Luis Buñuel and his young vanished boys in the hell of the world outside.

In the same way, The Dog Pound looks at our young people, like teenagers trying to take a place in our society, the trouble to study, to get a job, the influence of the drugs, the loneliness they suffer; challenges that our societies need to take care of. But, several of these films need more dramatic maturity beside their attractive characters, the cleverness to finish the film according to their humanist attributes. Perhaps they have to cut many parts in order to offer a more attractive story to the viewers. Nonetheless, these alternative films still demonstrated merit and promise. The only film which managed to bring all of these components together was the Brazilian Alice’s House which was duly awarded with our prize. With a very simple language it has come up with illustrating the great problem of the working class in South America .

The authors of Latin-American films have an enormous place in the world to conquer a potentially ready cinema-going public who wait accordingly for an effective pronouncement.