Latin American and Spanish Film Week
Where: Cinecenta, University of Victoria
When: Sept. 16-21, two showings nightly
Tickets and information: cinecenta.com, hispfilmvic.ca
Five years after rolling the opening credits on one of Victoria’s most popular annual film events, Dan Russek is not surprised that Latin American and Spanish Film Week is still alive and kicking.
“It’s [partly] because of the interest in Latin American and Spanish arts and culture in our community, the continued support of our sponsors and because of the commitment and work of the members of the Hispanic Film Society of Victoria, who are happy to share their passion for the best cinema being produced today in the Hispanic world,” said Russek, associate professor in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies at the University of Victoria.
Russek, the film society’s president, was clearly pleased with the longevity of the six-day cinematic showcase returning to Cinecenta for its fifth year, starting Tuesday.
The 2014 lineup of subtitled films features an urban thriller, two documentaries on legendary women, two family dramas and a social comedy.
The festival opens Tuesday with Mercedes Sosa: The Voice of Latin America, Rodrigo H. Vila’s documentary about the life of the colourful Argentine folk singer. The other documentary, screening Sept. 18, is Rosario, Shula Erenberg’s portrait of Rosario Ibarra de Piedra, the social activist and politician who has defended human rights and pushed for government accountability in Mexico since the 1970s.
The thriller 7 Boxes, set in and around the municipal market in Ascuncion, Paraguay, charts the adventures a youngster who finds himself on the run after being caught up in a criminal plot.
Other features include The Amazing Catfish, Mexican filmmaker Claudia Saint-Luce’s drama about a lonely woman’s experiences after being drawn into a quirky family; The Delay, Rodrigo Pla’s award-winning family drama set in Montevideo, Uruguay, about the struggles a mother of three faces taking care of her 80-year-old father; and A Gun In Each Hand, Cese Gay’s Spanish comedy comprising vignettes that create an amusing portrait of middle-aged manhood in Barcelona.
Russek foresees continued growth for the compact festival his UVic department organized this year in conjunction with other sponsors, including the university’s departments of Women’s Studies, Continuing Studies and its Faculty of Social Sciences, as well as CRD Arts Development and the Consulate General of Mexico in Vancouver.
“We want to challenge ourselves and bring new things to the event,” Russek said. “We plan to invite a director or actor next year to interact with the audience and we aim to increase the number of volunteers. It always requires a great deal of effort to successfully organize a cultural event, but it is an effort we welcome.”
What matters most, Russek adds, is “the big picture to enjoy remarkable films, raise social and political issues in the Hispanic world, and broaden the public’s cultural horizon.”