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Vancouver Latin American Film Festival showcases activism, Brazil

Vancouver Latin American Film Festival showcases activism, Brazil

Posted by PanamericanWorld on August 22, 2016

The Vancouver Latin American Film Festival turns 14 this year. More than 60 films from 10 countries — including Central and South America, the Caribbean and Canada — will be featured from Aug. 25-Sept. 4 at various venues in the city.

As in previous years, a guest country receives special focus and this Olympic year it will be Brazil.

VLAFF director Christian Sida-Valenzuela filled us in on some of the highlights as well as a general overview of the burgeoning film scene in “Hollywood South:”

Q: At the time you started this event, you discussed the relative difficulty in presenting a comprehensive Latin film festival because of the situation with filmmaking at the time. Is it accurate to say there is a complete renaissance in cinema taking place today?

A: In the late ’90s, Latin American cinema as a whole was very bad indeed. I’m from Mexico and, at that time, I think the entire country was producing only five or six feature-length films a year. Now it’s over 110.

Q: Presumably similar increases have taken place everywhere so that means no shortage of choices to program?

A: We are not a very large festival so we really work hard at picking only the best of the best for Vancouver. It’s a year-round process of attending festivals and seeing films as well as calling for submissions from February to May. Many of our films will be seen at TIFF in September.

Q: This year you have a retrospective on the career of Brazilian director Anna Muylaert, who is renowned for her São Paulo set pieces?

A: We showed her film Smoke Gets in Your Eyes in 2009 and really liked it. Then last year, her film The Second Mother was an audience hit at Sundance and a number of other international festivals. When I met her at a festival in Havana, I asked her about coming and with the help of the Brazilian government she is here with a North American premiere of her new family drama Don’t Call Me Son.

Q: One of the new programs this year is titled ¡Activismo! What made you decide on this focused program on films about history, society and political ideas from the region?

A: We noticed that when we showed films that addressed things, such as the mining industry like The Daughter of the Lake or the Eduardo Galeano documentary last year, that Vancouver audiences really embraced them. We’ve always shown films like this but not billed them under activism, so this year we have a small program of four really excellent activist topic films.

Q: The opening night film sounds like it could be part of this program, too?

A: I Promise You Anarchy (Te prometo anarquia) by Mexican director Julio Hernández Cordón took its title from a Guatemalan poem and it’s all about violence but you don’t see any. It’s a really, fresh film about a gay couple who sell their blood to the drug cartels on occasion when they need it for wounded members but can’t go to a hospital.

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