CITR 101.9 is one of the sponsors of the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival Aug 28-Sept 7. Currently in it’s 12th year, the festival seeks to create dialogue between cultures and showcase contemporary Latin cinema to local audiences. This year’s festival features an eclectic mix of film from Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Columbia, the Dominican Republic and Argentina. Ranging from the dramatic to the comedic, powerful stories, documentaries, and glamourous galas make this festival one to attend. Some great films include Blanco, a documentary which follows 6 people living with the heretitary condition of “albinism”, leaving them with little protection from the hot sun. Workers tells the story of Lidia, a maid, and Rafael, an employee of a lightbulb factory, as they struggle with the challenges of employment and worries about the future. The popular Who is Diyani Cristal? is being shown for a second time on September 7th at 7:30pm. Based on a true story, this film, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, depicts the forensic investigation after a decomposing body is found in the desert bearing only a tatoo that says “Diyani Cristal.”
For someone who rarely travels like myself, VLAFF presents an opportunity to explore Latin culture with films running the gamut from the mundane to the fantastical. It is wonderful to be immersed the Spanish language, and experience the sights and sounds of far away places.
Yet, variations in cultural traditions are often only on the surface, as a film like the Naked Room demonstrates. Set in a children’s psychiatric clinic in Mexico, the film depicts all too human stories of suffering due to mental illness, domestic violence, and personal loss. A stark film, it uses closely shot footage of children undergoing psychiatric interviews. The effect is riveting as the psychiatrists expertly and compassionately use questions to elecit narratives from children who have suffered rape, abuse, and are tormented by voices or visions of suicide. One of the most universal forces, that of a Mother’s love, was readily apparent, as family members desperately sought help and suffered along with their children. There was not a dry eye in the house, and the film left us with no answers or resolution…only a painful reminder of how difficult life can be.
There are so many great films at the VLAFF, please check them out while you still can! Details at www.vlaff.org