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Debut Directors With A Spanish Accent

 

While this year's 40th edition of New Directors/New Films, the showcase of debut directors co-presented by New York's Film Society of Lincoln Center and the Museum of Modern Art, is certainly international in scope, several of the films on tap have a decidedly Spanish accent. For a festival that has in the past 40 years uncovered a strong array of Spanish and Latin American talents, this year's Spanish-accented films are among the strongest in the program.

 

Films from Peru are exceedingly rare on the international scene but OCTUBRE by brothers Daniel and Diego Vega is an exception. The film, which premiered at last year's Cannes Film Festival took home  the Jury Prize in the Festival's Un Certain Regard section. The film is an example of humanistic filmmaking at its most pungent. A small-time money lender living in the violence-filled barrios of the capital city of Lima one day discovers a baby left on his doorstep. Finding out that the child is the result of his liaison with a prostitute, the petty criminal steps up and decides to care for the child, with the help oof a female neighbor. Soon, an unexpected "modern family" emerges that is not tied by blood but by shared misery and common understanding. The film, which has been a hit on the international film festival circuit, will be released by New Yorker Films later this year.

 Mexican cinema has had a renaissance in the past decade and two examples of that country's searing film style are evidenced this week. Mixing documentary and fiction, Nicolas Pereda's SUMMER OF GOLIATH intertwines the stories of people living in a small town in rural Mexico. The grinding poverty of rural life combined with a penchant for violent retribution categorize this generation of Mexicans and foreshadows their descent into a moralistic purgatory where guns rule and family splinter apart due to financial stress and the dissolution of family life. EL VELADOR by Natalia Almada is the latest addition to Mexico's growing reputation for insightful documentaries that do not pull punches in uncovering their subjects' hidden depths. Set in the world of El Jardin, a cemetery in the heartland of a Mexico riddled with drug-related violence, the film introduces audiences to the lives of the cemetery workers and to the families of the victims, many having perished in violent clashes over drugs and money. The film is a chilling testimony to the loss of life and sense of pride that is overshadowing a Mexico that is still very much tied into the old ways.

New Directors/New Films continues through Sunday, April 3. For more information on these and other films in the program, visit: www.newdirectors.org

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor 

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(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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