Vamos Al Cine! The Sonoma International Film Festival’s contemporary Latin cinema programming starts Friday
Venezuelan director Hernán Jabes (award-winning director of Macuro) adrenaline-fueled crime drama “Piedra, papel o tijera” (“Rock, Paper, Scissors”) was Venezuela’s official submission to the 2013 Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language film. A betrayal is uncovered, leading the paths of two families at opposite ends of the economic spectrum to cross. Ten-year-old Luis is the unwitting catalyst to a dizzying downward spiral of violence in the overpopulated neighborhoods of Caracas. Extortion, murder, drug trafficking and several emotionally volatile personalities combine to produce a thrilling and unpredictable outcome in a brutal game of chance. (Screens Friday, April 12 3:15 p.m., Burlingame Hall and Saturday, April 13, 5:30 p.m., La Luz)
Last year, the Sonoma International Film Festival’s celebrated its 15th anniversary with “La Quinceañera Film Fiesta,” featuring the best of cinema “en español.” For the first time in Sonoma Valley, both Latino and film festival audiences enjoyed a selection of award-winning films from Mexico to Bolivia. “La Q” was a huge hit, bringing the beloved Havana Eva, with the presence of lovely Prakriti Maduro, and Hidalgo, the historic epic from Mexico, starring this year’s Spotlight Award honoree, Demián Bichir. SIFF also celebrated the coming-of-age of Janeth and Lupita with a real Quinceañera party.
This year, SIFF presents its inagural “Vamos al Cine” program, featuring 9 films all shown with English subtitles. A rich cinema blend with flavors from Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Spain with an emphasis in Mexican cinema, “Vamos al Cine” will be presented both at La Luz Center’s Booker Hall, in the heart of the Latino neighborhood, and in the festival’s main Plaza venues.
“We hope to bring pride to our Latino community in our award-winning cinema and inspiration with the presence of Spotlight Award recipient Damián Bichir, ” said Claudia Mendoza-Carruth, who organized last year’s “La Quinceañera Film Fiesta” and this year’s “Vamos Al Cine” programming.
Mia from Argentina will feature an engaging Q&A with its director, Javier van de Couter, coming from Buenos Aires. This narrative feature, which is also part of SIFF LBGT programming, is about the struggles of the transgender community. Alé is a trans woman who lives in disparity in a shanty town of Buenos Aires, surviving by collecting recyclables for cash. She discovers the diary-suicide note of another trans woman named Mia, leading her to become entwined with Mia’s grieving family. The film offers a tender and realistic window into humanity-regardless of whether one is queer or straight. (Screens Friday, April 12, 9 p.m., Sebastiani Theatre)
Fat, Short and Bald (Gordo, calvo y bajito) (2011), from Colombia, will also have its director Carlos Osuna in attendance. Using bright primary colors and an innovative animation technique, where the faces of the real actors are in animated form, this clever and touching story is about a man who lives a gray life thinking that by being fat, short and bald there is no chance for him… until a man just like him, loved by everyone and very assertive, becomes his boss. (Screens Saturday, April 13, noon, La Luz and Sunday, April 14, 1:45 p.m.Women’s Club)
The films: Acorazado (México), Borrando la Frontera (México/EE.UU), En Fuera de Juego (Spain, Argentina), Gordo, calvo y bajito (Columbia), Hecho en China (México), MIA (Argentina), Miss Inc. (Canada), Piedra papel o tijera (Venezuela), La Cebra (México).
“Prior to last year’s Quinceañera Film Fiesta, there had been Spanish films in the programming but not a specific programming segment,” said Mendoza-Carruth. “I made a personal commitment to make of film a bridge that would connect our Anglo and Latino communities in Sonoma Valley. We were very successful at doing so last year. Latinos that had never been to a Festival party at the Plaza were dancing celebrating Janeth and Lupita’s real quinceañera, Anglos who had never seen a Spanish film in the Springs area, came to the Charter school to enjoy a selection of the best 15 films in contemporary Latin cinema. Thanks to the generous support of the MacMurray Foundation, we are continuing this year the celebration of the values, contributions and diversity of our Latino community by the Vamos al Cine program.”
Miss Inc. (Canada, Venezuela, 2011, Dir. Orlando Arrigada) With a dozen Miss Universe and Miss World titles, Venezuela is the undisputed global beauty pageant champion. After oil, pageants are the country’s second most important industry. Although 80% of the population lives below the poverty line, many women spend a fortune on their appearance, and the pursuit of the Miss Venezuela crown is followed with near-religious fervor. Exploring the backstage world of the Venezuelan beauty industry, Orlando Arriagada’s documentary asks: Is beauty manufactured at any cost?
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