Monday, October 6, 2008

The Latin American Film Series at The Beach

Fernando Romero

The Latin American Film Series began on Thursday, Sept. 25 with the screening of Los Andes no creen en Dios and will continue through Oct. 16 on successive Thursdays at 7 p.m. in the University Theatre at Cal State Long Beach.

The annual film series exhibits four movies made by Latin American filmmakers or produced specifically for Latin American audiences. This year’s theme, “Love Stories: Diverse Visions,” focuses on a compilation of films that present narratives of the intricate idiosyncrasies of love coupled with the socio/political backdrop and settings of Latin America.

Series opener, Los Andes no creen en Dios by Bolivian filmmaker Antonio Eguino was released in 2007 and subsequently screened throughout Latin America. It has the recognition of being the most expensive Bolivian film ever produced. It has received acclaim for its cinematography and was also Bolivia’s submission to the 80th Annual Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film, but failed to make the final cut.

It took more than 23 years for Eguino to premier his latest film after 1984’s Amargo mar. A veteran filmmaker, Eguino makes a comeback with Los Andes no creen en Dios and adds to his repertoire of films including Pueblo chico (1974) and Chuquiago (1977). His films concern the everyday lives of Bolivians threaded with the cultural and socio/political circumstances within that country.

“Los Andes no creen en Dios is an homage to the miners of Bolivia,” Eguino said. “It is an homage to the men and women who dedicated their lives and passions to the mining industry.”

The movie is set in the 1920s and 1940s, when mineral mining peaked in Bolivia.

“I wanted to reconstruct a forgotten age of the Bolivian mining industry,” Eguino said.

With ample artistic license, Eguino recreated and restructured three novels by Bolivian writer Adolfo Costa Du Rels forming the basis for the movie plot.: La plata del diablo, La Misk’i simi (Labios Dulces) and Los Andes no creen en Dios, which later became the title of the film, and gave life to the narrator of this novel turning him into the film’s protagonist.

The film follows writer Alfonso Claros (Diego Bertie) who travels to the small, Bolivian mining town of Uyuni wherein he befriends Joaquín (Milton Cortez). Both friends fall in love with Claudina (Carla Ortiz), the misk’i simi, and get tangled with mining prospector Genaro (Jorge Ortiz) and house madam Clota (Schlomit Baytelman).

Eguino said that his filmmaking is one which reflects about social realities in a region marked by contrasts. He cited that The Andes and most of Latin America is plagued with social inequalities which beg the question of whether or not God exists.
Eguino’s film is one of two dramas to be screened during the film series, the other being Madrigal by Cuban director Fernando Pérez.

Organizer and film and electronic arts professor at CSULB Jose H. Sanchez said the selection for the films is based on diverse criteria.

“The entries are selected through attending film festivals, such as the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival,” Sanchez said. “We also take into account recommendations from film and electronic art students attending film festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival.”

This year’s selections included two dramas and two comedies. Asegure a su Mujer, was screened on Thursday, Oct.2. This film is a 1934 comedy made by Fox Studios and directed by Lewis Seiler. The movie was produced for the Latin American market in the 1930s. Sanchez said that prior to its exhibition at the University Theatre, the film had only been publicly screened once before within the United States.

Cuban film Madrigal by Pérez is scheduled for screening on Oct. 9. This dramatic love story is set in two time periods, the years 2005 and 2020; blending fantasy and reality.

The Latino Film Series will conclude with the screening of Maldeamores on Oct. 16. Directed by Puerto Ricans Carlos Ruiz and Maria Pérez Rivera, this comedic film follows many characters who are searching for romance.
The Latin American Film Series is free and open to students, faculty and the general public. All the films are subtitled in English.

“The Latin American Film Series is an excellent way for us to reach both students and the community. Our goal is to provide an experience that will facilitate openness to and understanding of Latin American cinema and culture,” Sanchez said. ¶

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