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London Latin America 3rd Film Festival

Discovering Latin America Film Festival
London November 25 - December 5

London may seem an unlikely place for a Latin American film festival. Most of the Argentinean, Cuban and Uruguayan films that have won festival prizes in the last couple of years have never been distributed in London (as a matter of fact, outside of Latin America, most of these films have only been distributed in Paris). Also, the English are not known for their unequivocal enthusiasm for anything Argentinean.

Nevertheless, one of the most exciting film festivals in London, the Discovering Latin America Film Festival brings South American and mainly Argentinean films to London for the third year in a row.

The emphasis on Argentinean films is not a coincidence. In the last couple of years, Argentina produced a new generation of film directors who - like the young Iranian directors of the nineties - tend to win important prizes at major film festivals. Just a few of names: Lucrecia Martel, Diego Lerman, Pablo Trapero, Adrian Caetano, Celina Murga, Gabriela David, Luis Ortega, Santiago Loza, Carlos Sorín. The real film-snobs today look out for Argentinean films.

This year's selection at the Discovering Latin America Film Festival also gives preference to young Argentinean cinema. The opening night film is Familia Rodante (Rolling Family, 2004) by Pablo Trapero, whose first film, El Bonaerense (2002), also showing this year, was one of the films that started the recent 'new wave' of Argentinean cinema. Another Argentinean film not to be missed is the slow and melancholic Ana y los Otros (Ana and the others, 2003), by Celina Murga.

25 Watts (2001), a coming-of-age film about three young and unsuccessful friends is by the Uruguayans Juan Pablo Rebella and Pablo Stoll, whose latest film, Whisky (2004) was a big success at this year's London Film Festival. The youthful and energetic Nada + (Nothing more, 2001) by the Cuban director, Juan Carlos Cremata, is a contemporary slapstick set in Cuba. This description may sound unusual, but the film is even more unusual. More mainstream Latin American cinema is also well represented with Walter Salles' Diarios de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries, 2003) and Joshua Marston's Maria, llena eres de gracia (Maria, Full of Grace, 2004).

This year's Discovering Latin America Film Festival has no less than three retrospectives, devoted to three film directors who can be seen as the father figures of young Latin American cinema. First of all, we will have the chance to see some of the rare films of the Agentinean Fernando Solanas, who has been probably the greatest influence on the Argentinean New Wave. The other two retrospectives are dedicated to Francisco Lombardi from Peru and Jorge Sanjinés from Bolivia.

There are 44 films (both documentaries and feature films) on the program of the Discovering Latin America Film Festival this year, which is more than the number of films some of the well-established and well-reputed film festivals show. Still, this event is relatively unknown, perhaps because it is in London, a city where even the gigantic London Film Festival is sometimes hardly noticeable. Most of the screenings take place in some of the major West End cinemas, which should make it easier to catch some of them.

As any major film festival, the Discovering Latin America Film Festival is more than just a couple of dozens of screenings. For example, the festival also offers three master classes, on cinematography, music and the auteurist tradition in Latin American cinema. All three master classes are at the ICA.

The program and screening schedule of Discovering Latin America Film Festival can be found at http://www.discovering-latinamerica.org.uk/filmfestival.htm

Bence Nanay

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