From the crossover successes of Mexican power trio Alfonso Cuarón (Y tu Mamá También), Alejandro González Iñárritu (Amores Perros), and Guillermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth), to the first film produced in Paraguay in 30 years receiving a top prize at Cannes, there's been something undeniably urgent and exciting about Latin American cinema in recent years.
Since 1997, the curators of Latinbeat have scoured the Romance language speaking countries of the Americas, procuring copies of the region's best new works, and organizing them into an annual festival presented by New York's Film Society of Lincoln Center.
This year's selections are especially diverse, running the gamut from more conventional comedies and thrillers, to austere arthouse dramas and contemplative personal essay films, offering an accurate picture of the wide variety of works produced in these Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries. Here are some highlights of the festival, running through 18 September 2007:
It was the commissioning by the New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna that allowed the production of this first Paraguayan feature since the 1970s, a contemplative glimpse into the lives of an aging couple made up of beautifully small moments. (Pictured above right.)
The second feature by the leading figures of a burgeoning Uruguyan cinema, this film set in an around a rundown sock factory in Montevideo displays a mastery of deadpan humor on par with the best work by Jim Jarmusch.
Pinta the Bird and Temporal
These two shorts, both revolving around pairs of children in tiny remote villages, are the first two Central American films (from El Salvador and Costa Rica, respectively) to be included in the festival; a rare chance to glimpse works from a nascent but promising region.
Four Breakthroughs from Mexicos New Cinema
This year's sidebar program revisits a handful of groundbreaking works that helped define the recent Mexican New Wave: the violently intersecting lives of Amores Perros, the adolescent malaise of Duck Season, the unsettling landscapes of Japón, and the tragic true story of Violet Perfume.
For more info on these films and others in the program, and to purchase tickets, visit the Film Society of Lincoln Center website.
by Michael Talbott