The rhythmic sounds, the joyous people, the tantalising flavours, and the spice of life. The Cine Latino Film Festival is in full swing. It brings all these things together and moreover, shows us the wonderful culture and experiences of a diverse people.
Much has gone into the selection of each film presented this year. We are treated to a smorgasbord of rich and delightful films from Mexico, Argentina and all over the South American region. I spoke with native Columbian, Gina Rubiano. Gina is on the Latin American and international Film Committee and helped curate the festival. Gina has a genuine passion for Latin America and Latino films.
Gina explains her passion for film, "I don't know exactly what started it, as none of my family were artists or related to cinema. All I know is that I wanted to get involved since I was a kid with the special effects of film. When technology took over and special effects were done by computers I still did my Bachelor in Film and TV production but I soon realised I didn't enjoy dealing with actors, actresses, directors, editors, scriptwriters etc, but I did enjoy watching films, going to festivals and watching non-main stream cinema."
Gina translates her love for film into the various film festivals she helps organise. Going into further detail she describes the process as, ".... the films are handpicked by the selection committee from other international film festivals like the Cannes and Toronto film festival as well as other large markets. They also receive a number of films from distributor relationships. This year, the Cine Latino Film Festival has teamed up with the Hola Mexico Film Festival, which is the biggest platform for Mexican cinema in the US. The director of Hola Mexico used to live in Australia but after moving back to the US has partnered with Cine Latino to give exposure to Mexican films. When you have a look at the festival program, you'll see that there is a section called 'Hola Mexico Film Festival presents' so that section comes from him. Otherwise, we are a group made up of Australians, Dominicans, Mexicans and myself and we just watch and watch and watch films, it's a constant conversation with distributors and with film festivals as we try and cover as many films as we can and as many regions as we can to cover all of Latin America."
Looking at the program, there is a focus on Mexican and Argentinean films throughout the festival. I asked Gina what does film mean in Mexico and Argentina that makes it such a big market. She answered, "It's a very interesting phenomenon. Mexico and Argentina throughout history they have identified very well with being very creative and funding their creative industries. So with Cine Latino this year we have decided to have this section in the program. We received many submissions from Argentina that were very good. The committee kept saying, "Let's add this one, and this one, oooh and this one." Some countries like Columbia and Cuba only have one film but with Argentina, we ended up with many great films. We knew they would contribute to the richness of the program so we shouldn't leave them out. So Cine Argentina was born".
This year, the film You're Killing Me Susana, has been selected as the opening night film for the festival. I asked Gina what brought the committee to this decision. "First of all, the title. The title is hilarious. Even in Spanish, the title says so much. They are very strong words. We have Gael Garcia who is such a cool guy and he has such a good reputation as a public figure, an all-around great guy. In You're Killing Me Susana, he plays a role where you end up hating him. He plays the Mexican macho but in this day and age, it's perfect to screen this film and bring out this reflection of sexism in Latino American context, where relationships are still based on older traditions and dynamics. The film is well produced and has all the ingredients to make the selection for the opening night film."
With so many films available it's hard to pick what to see unless you go see all of them. To make things a bit easier I ask Gina what she thought would be the sleeper hit amongst the selection. She wasn't able to give me one but instead gave me three. "The first one is Breadcrumbs, which is the first film I watched when doing the selection. Breadcrumbs translates to Migas de pan in Spanish and it talks about the dictatorship in the 70s and 80s in Uruguay. So this is a topic which keeps coming up in Latino cinema. This film depicts that part of history in Uruguay very well. It has very strong female characters who are well-constructed with good performances by the lead actors. It has very top end production and there is something very beautiful about this film. Another film I think is amazing is The Desert Bride. Paulina Garcia plays the lead role. Paulina is like the Cate Blanchett of Latino films. A type of actress who can do whatever and they immediately personify that character. It doesn't matter what role she playing she just adjusts very well. Seeing Paulina play a character who seems weak, who seems to lack confidence, and she doesn't know where she is going the film, however, proves you wrong. The film is well constructed but the female lead, Teresa is actually very strong. She doesn't know what she wants or where she is going in many aspects. This is a movie about someone who doesn't have many aspirations but what she does do she makes great, makes it big and valuable. So the film allows you to contemplate the nature of a very unique woman. I don't say that because the character is unique because that type of character is actually very common in Latino cinema. This woman is the everyday woman in Latino America that we forget is there. The film focuses on a character we would normally otherwise ignore.
The other film I like The Summit, which again has Paulina Garcia, who plays the Chilean President which has her in a completely different role but equally strong. This film tells you a lot about Latino America. It's a fictional story. Each country is represented by each President. The protagonist is in the case the Argentinian President played by Ricardo Darin. So for anyone wanting to know more about corruption, power, politics and finances in a bigger scale and in a Latino American context, this is the film for them. It talks about the different relationships and dynamics between different countries in Latin America but also how each country has been characterised throughout history. It also depicts, more importantly, the role and impact the U.S has in Latino American economies and politics. A good film with an interesting cast. It's produced by Warner Brothers which gives it that Hollywoodesqe touch."
It's clear Gina, as well as the whole selection committee for this year's Cine Latino Film Festival, share an enthusiasm for great cinema and have put together a collection of films that they are very proud of. Films that are beautiful, entrancing, funny, heart-pounding, in-depth, and everything in between. If you would like to see any of the films covered in the interview or would like to see any others of the wide selection of Latino cinema check out the Cine Latino Film Festival at Palace Nova Cinemas. The festival starts on the 14th in Sydney, 15th in Canberra, 16th in Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne and 23rd in Hobart. The festival finishes on the 29th in all locations. A labour of love not to be missed.