Wednesday, October 31, 2007

11th International Latino Film Festival

San Francisco Bay Area
2-18 November 2007

This year’s Festival opens tonight: the evening of the Day of the Dead. Fittingly, the Festival celebrates several historic Latino artists, such as: painter Diego Rivera, singer/dancer/actress Lola Flores, singer Benny Moré, and photographer Gabriel Figueroa.

The opening night film is “Nonna’s Trip” about the grandmother of the Torado family who has forgotten everything. Everything except that her final wish is to visit Italy - the land of her beloved late husband - along with her whole family. This humorous journey is filled with surprises, mix-ups and a film within the film – and is an unforgettable story of a family united by love for their grandmother. Following the opening night film, a Day of the Dead celebration with wine, food, and dancing takes place at the W Hotel (at Third and Howard).

Contact info: Website: 415.513.5308. Email:

The following events take place in San Francisco and San Jose.

A Conversation with Diego Luna: Actor/Producer/Director

Saturday November 3rd at the Castro Theatre 4:00 pm ($12/$10)
Following the screening of his directorial debut “Chávez,” join celebrated Mexican actor Diego Luna (“Y tu mamá también”) in conversation with Delfin Vigil of the “San Francisco Chronicle” about his journey from actor to producer and director.

Tribute to the Nuevo Cine Mexicano: with Diego Luna

Saturday November 3rd at the Castro Theatre 6:30 pm ($12/$10)
This tribute to Diego Luna, one of Mexico’s most talented filmmakers, takes a look at his career and how he has shaped contemporary Latino filmmaking.


Sunday November 4th at the Castro Theatre 7:30 pm ($35/$30)
A celebration of the Latino LGBT community after the screenings of "Cosas que no se dicen " and “Glue.” Special guest: Argentinean actor Nahuel Pérez Biscayart of the award-winning film “Glue.”

San José

Noche Chicana Tribute to Luis Valdez and Teatro Campesino

Thursday November 8th at Chacho’s Mexican Restaurant 8:00pm ($40/$35)
Following the screening of the documentary, “The Legacy of Luis Valdez,” is a celebration with Luis Valdez and Festival guests. Chacho’s Mexican Restaurant is known for its great food and fun Zoot Suit-themed atmosphere.

Tribute to Women in Film
Tribute to Women & Film Sponsored by the Castellano Family Foundation and the Consulate of Mexico in San Jose Friday, November 9th at Anno Domini 7:00pm($25/$20)
The International Latino Film Festival salutes women in film November 9th with a reception to follow the screening of “El brassier de Emma ” at 7pm at Camera 12. Director Maryse Sistach from Mexico will attend this special evening at Anno Domini in San José.

Film Highlights
“Emma’s Bra” (dir. Marisa Sistach), Pop-culturally speaking, 1962 was a very good year. Only months before the publication of Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique,” Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot still enthralled movie-goers. And American astronauts, Russian cosmonauts, UFOs and Chubby Checker’s “The Twist” (all of which set the stage for this delightful family comedy) ignited our imaginations. After older sister Cecilia flies off to Paris for college, her sister, thirteen-year-old Emma, remains with their loving, but squabbling parents, and fosters a growing fetish for all things associated with mammary glands: developing breasts, nursing infants, sexually-curious boys, and that bizarre male invention: the brassiere. Emma’s mother Amparo survives a breast (what else?) cancer scare and defies her patriarchal husband Francisco by taking a job teaching French. But precociously liberated Emma has the final word, or, in her case, triumph. Even as Friedan’s epistle lurked around the corner, this girl surely launched the Mexican women’s movement. A coming-of-age gem for all ages.
(Rountree–Festival Program Note)

“Portrait of Diego” (dirs: Gabriel Figueroa Flores and Diego Lopez Rivera), “I paint what I see,” declared Diego Rivera, considered the greatest Mexican painter of the 20th century. Upon the 50th anniversary of Rivera’s art career in 1949, his friends and fellow artists, photographer Manuel Alvarez Bravo and cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, set out to capture el Maestro’s process on film. Before completion, however, they shelved the project. Nearly sixty years later, Gabriel Figueroa Flores (Figueroa’s son) and Diego Lopez Rivera (Rivera’s grandson) discovered the lost footage and, retracing the trio’s steps, revisited their haunts. Archival footage and interviews with Rivera’s friends and relatives establish the historical context, while evocative clips from Mexico’s Golden Era of Cinema dramatize the cultural milieu. The original film’s remarkably personal imagery, in gorgeous muted pastel tones, reveals Rivera in Mexico’s natural environs among the earthy peasants and pre-Columbian art he loved and commemorated in his humanistic paintings. Thanks to the astonishing “Retrato de Diego,” we now see what he painted.
(Rountree–Festival Program Note)

“Chávez” (dir. Diego Luna), A triumph at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, rising star Diego Luna (“Before Night Falls,” “Y tu mamá también,” “Sólo Dios sabé”), launches the West Coast premiere of his directorial debut at ILFF, for what promises to be a rousing event worthy of its subject. Upon reading the eponymous title, viewers may wonder, “Which Chávez??” Famous in international boxing circles, and considered one of the sport's all-time great talents, Mexican boxer Julio César Chávez battled his way from a poverty-stricken family of ten, to enjoy the iconic stature of national hero. Along the way, Chávez earned a near-record 89 straight professional victories, and served unwittingly as politicos’ poster-boy. As Luna follows “Mr. Knockout” during the wrenching final matches of his career, his cinema vèritè-style and elemental soundtrack reflect the kinetic physicality, balletic quality, and brute force of boxing, and captures the emotional gamut inherent in this sporting life.
(Rountree–Festival Program Note)

“The City of Photographers” (dir. Sebastián Moreno), During Augusto Pinochet's reign in Chile, a small group of independent photographers dared to capture the atrocities going on around them. While the army had guns, the photographers had an equally dangerous weapon - their cameras. This is a documentary about a brutal dictatorship and the courageous artists who challenged it. Definitely an important story: from the perspectives of Chile’s photojournalists who survived the Pinochet regime. Returning to several of the same locations they photographed 30 or more years ago, they recall bloody riots and commemorate martyred fellow photographers. Wonderful archival footage! What poetic justice to know that so many of these courageous protestors out-lived their nemesis, the fascistic general.

"Asalto al sueño/ Assaulted Dream" (dir. Uli Stelzner), Although the production values of Asalto are not the best, this cinema verité-style documentary is a gripping depiction of a group of Central American peasants’ fateful journey to the mythical promised land: the U.S. I find it interesting that it took a courageous German director (at great personal risk to himself) –– rather than a North American or Mexican filmmaker –– to tell the story of hope/hopelessness, on one side, and globalization, violence, and corruption, on the other. At a time when the term “illegal aliens” is bantered about, this important film should be required viewing for all American presidential candidates as well as every citizen. I very much enjoyed all three films, but the consequential and timely subject matter of this film –– and our specified category –– makes it imperative viewing.

“August Evening” (dir. Chris Eska), A family of undocumented workers in Texas faces a series of tough choices threatening the bonds that hold them together. Their very survival is at stake. Through vivid characters, subtle romance and gentle humor, this drama shows the collision of cultures and generations and how redemption can come from the most unlikely places.

“638 Ways to Kill Castro" (dir. Dollan Cannell), This shockingly objective documentary tells how the CIA and Cuban exiles have made 638 attempts on the life of the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro. From exploding cigars to advice from James Bond-creator Ian Fleming, find out exactly what the CIA has been up to on behalf of the American people.

“The Violin” (dir. Francisco Vargas), Amid the guerrilla warfare of 1970s Guerrero, Mexico, a seemingly simple peasant, Don Plutarco, enthralls an army captain with his violin playing. But there’s more to Don Plutarco than meets the eye. From Cannes (Best Actor) and a winner of eleven festival awards “El violin” explores what drives ordinary people to fight oppression

“Football - The Birth of a Passion” (dir. Jesús Sánchez Romeva), Nothing ignites passion around the world like football, soccer, rugby or calcio! Through vivid historical reconstructions, this documentary traces our ball obsession from intricate Mayan and Chinese rituals to Roman army training, from a Japanese ceremony to the Florentine game of calcio, eventually arriving at the present-day magic of Zidane and Beckham.

International Latino Filmmaker’s Conference
November 3 - 4, Mission Cultural Center
Keynote Speaker: Moctesuma Esparza
Venue: Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. 2868 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94110. General Admission $65/ Students $50.
For Latinos and non-Latinos alike, the conference taps into the vibrant environment of the International Latino Film Festival with screenings, special events and international guests. This two-day event is a great opportunity for networking, dialogue and learning.
Day One - Saturday November 3rd
10:00 am - Keynote Speaker: Moctesuma Esparza
Oscar nominated producer, director, founder of NALIP (National Association of Latino Producers) and Maya Theaters.

10:45 am - Technology Track The future of filmmaking and distribution moderated by Mitch Posada of

Break 11:45 - 12:40 pm

12:45 pm- Latino Images and Culture
A conversation with Rick Tejada Flores and Tony Labat.

1:45 pm - International Filmmakers Panel
A conversation about the issues facing International Latino filmmakers. Moderated by Graham Leggat, Executive Director of the San Francisco International Film Festival. Sebastian Silva, Inti Cordera and Carlos Bolado in conversation.

At the Castro Theatre:
4:00 pm - A Conversation with Diego Luna
With Delfin Vigil of the San Francisco Chronicle The young actor, producer and director tells his story.
Day Two - Sunday November 4th
10:00 am - Local Filmmakers Panel
A conversation about the issues facing Bay Area Latino filmmakers. Santhosh Daniel of the Global Film Initiative in conversation with local filmmakers

11:30 am - 1:00 pm - Local Filmmakers Screening
A screening of excellent local Latino shorts.

6:00pm - Filmmakers' Mixer - a chance to meet the filmmakers! At Amnesia, 853 Valencia St., SF

(Cross-posted on the "Santa Cruz Sentinel":