From touching and personal tales, to saucy animations and exquisite examinations into the world around us, the 14th annual Sydney Latin American Film Festival (SLAFF) is back this September (4"11). Returning to the Dendy Opera Quays and Addison Road Picture House, with a special screening also taking place at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on 21 September. The Festival will screen a specially curated program of 23 feature films and shorts, showcasing the very best in contemporary Latin American cinema.
"This year the festival focuses on migration and the individuals and communities who are impacted by a wide range of social justice issues. There are many stories in the program that look at the individual experience of these communities, and what it means to live in the world we live in today" said Festival Programmer, Gisselle Gallego.
"Our Festival program travels all over South America with films from Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Cuba, Chile, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. With the diversity of countries covered in the program, so too are the stories presented." she said.
The Festival opens with the Australian premiere of The Cotton Wool War. This touching coming of age tale follows 14 year old Dora who, raised in Germany, is sent to Brazil to visit her enigmatic grandmother, realising it's a relocation not a vacation she desperately starts trying to find a way home. Along the way she discovers the beauty of Brazil and the incredible history of the women in her family.
The Opening Night Fiesta will kick on after the film screening with an epic Brazilian fiesta at the ever-trendy Argyle in The Rocks. Here the high energy sounds of For All Band and the Sydney Choro Club will be pumping in between sets by DJ Willie Sabor. Jam-packed with live dancers, delectable bites, drinks and percussion, this is a night out not to miss!
A highlight of this year's program is Juan Caceres' debut feature Perro Bomba. The film takes aim at the racism affecting Chile's working class and immigrants' who are suffering from laws born in the time of a xenophobic dictator Augusto Pinochet. These laws remain today and affect more than half a million immigrants. In the film, a Haitian immigrant is lynched by the media, disowned and displaced after taking a swing at a taunting construction foreman. Juan Caceres will be a guest at the festival and conduct a Q&A after the screening of his film.
Challenging assumptions about gender and the freedom to choose ones identity is Being Impossible where a young woman learns that she was born intersex and was subjected to a series of surgeries to make her female.
Race is explored in the drama Miriam Lies which looks into Afro-Latina teenager Miriam and her middle-class white mother's anxiety about race and class. As she approaches her 15th birthday party, Miriam must decide whether to tell her family that her new boyfriend is black.
Goalkeeper is a film that poses the question - would you commit a crime to save your child? Jorge, a former world-famous goalkeeper makes a devilish pact and enters the world of human trafficking in a desperate attempt to save his ill son.
In a cinematic adventure not to be missed, Mantis Nest transports the audience to 1994 Cuba, where tensions are high amidst hectic migratory disagreements with the U.S. In the village of Siboney, a young woman, Sugar, is convicted of murder. As she sets out to prove her innocence, she weaves a stormy tale of love, jealousy and betrayal that goes back decades.
In Times of Rain wrestles with the crisis of identity of the native Mixtec people of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, economic migration between rural and urban Mexico and the bonds of family, love and culture.
SLAFF's fifth short film competition will present an evening of seven thought-provoking works about migration and climate change. From Mexico to Argentina these animations, documentaries and fiction shorts highlight important issues being faced by different Latin American countries.
An animation for adults only Virus Tropical is adapted from the graphic novel by Colombian-Ecuadorian cartoonist Powerpaola and follows Paola, the youngest of three daughters, as she fumbles her way through friendships, new schools, clunky romances, and various domestic dramas in her quest to become an independent, creative young woman. Contains frank depictions of nudity, sex, and recreational drug use.
Closing the festival is the heart-warming feature, Delfín. Eleven-year-old Delfín lives alone with his father in provincial Argentina. Over the course of a week the film captures Delfín's daily routine of rising early to work, falling asleep in class and fending off the rent collector, until he discovers that a children's orchestra is being formed in the neighbouring village. Thus begins a moving adventure for him and his father that by the end of the week has the capacity to change the course of their lives. Following the screening of Delfín there will be a closing night party at The Argyle.
Wandering Girl is a coming-of-age road movie where an orphaned teenager goes on a huge road trip across Colombia with three half-sisters she's just met. Beautifully shot and with insights into femininity and girlhood woven into its story, the film was recently awarded Grand Prix winner at the most recent Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.
The quietly powerful Joel is an engaging exploration of adoption and small town attitudes to outsiders. After waiting years to adopt a child, a couple are surprised by the sudden arrival of nine-year old Joel shortly after they move to a remote village in Patagonia. Joel's difficult past brings challenges that force them to re-examine their wishes and exposes the hypocrisy of small town attitudes.
The single documentary in the Festival line-up is As We Are. After 36 years, Peru returns to the World Cup in Russia in 2018. The film asks - can this huge national achievement start to heal decades of armed conflict, social and economic upheaval, and a traumatised national identity? As We Are is a reflective journey through growing up in Peru during the 1980s and disappointment - and ultimate pride - of their national football team.
Miriam Lies, Being Impossible, Wandering Girl, Perro Bomba and Mantis Nest will all be competing for the Jury Award for Best Feature Film, judged by a panel of industry experts. The winner will be announced on closing night and awarded a cash prize presented by the Sydney Latin American Film Festival.
The 14th Sydney Latin American Film Festival will take place at the Dendy Opera Quays and Addison Road Picture House from Wednesday 4 September – Wednesday 11 September 2019, with a special screening at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on Saturday 21 September.
14th Sydney Latin American Film Festival
Where: Dendy Opera Quays, Sydney
Addison Road Picture House, Sydney
Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre
When: Dendy Opera Quays: Wednesday 4 September – Wednesday 11 September 2019
Addison Road Picture House: Tuesday 10 September 2019
Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre: Saturday 21 September 2019