Now in its 23rd year, the AFI Latin American Film Festival showcases the best filmmaking from Latin America and, with the inclusion of films from Spain and Portugal, celebrates Ibero-American cultural connections. This year's selection of 50 films makes it the biggest festival yet, and includes international festival favorites, award-winners, local box-office hits and debut works by promising new talents. Look for featured strands in this year's lineup including: Music Movies Family Fun and Late Night Latin .
Highlights of the festival include the Opening Night selection, the rousing LA-set hip hop drama FILLY BROWN; Mexico's A SECRET WORLD, a sensation at the Berlin International Film Festival; the US premiere of Argentina's CLANDESTINE CHILDHOOD; David Riker's Mexico-US immigration drama, THE GIRL, starring Abbie Cornish; festival sensation UNA NOCHE, from Cuba; TROPICÁLIA, the definitive documentary on the influential Brazilian music movement, and LA CASA DEL RITMO, A FILM ABOUT LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES, chronicling the story of Venezuela's most famous Grammy-winning band; HERE AND THERE, winner of the top prize in Critic's Week at this year's Cannes Film Festival; and Alex de la Iglesia's lunatic media satire, AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT, starring Mexico's Salma Hayek.
A NOTE TO AUDIENCES: Because films in the AFI Latin American Film Festival have not been evaluated by the MPAA rating system in the US, AFI has made its best effort to inform audiences about any content that could lead to a restricted rating if released here. The following is a guide:
In person: actor Lou Diamond Phillips and filmmakers Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos
Charismatic hip hop artist Majo Tonorio (Gina Rodriguez) rocks the mic as Filly Brown, and hopes, along with her DJ pal Santa (Braxton Miltz), to make it big. But when producers and promoters come calling, they want to change her game, injecting more sex into the act. On top of this, Majo tries to broker peace between her jailbird mother (Jenni Rivera) and hardworking father (Lou Diamond Phillips), and keep her younger sister (Chrissie Fit) on the straight and narrow. This rousing underdog story boasts energetic performances and a thumping Latin hip hop soundtrack. Opening Night, 2012 NY Latino Film Festival; Official Selection, 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
DIR/SCR Youssef Delara; DIR/ PROD Michael D. Olmos; PROD Amir Delara, Mico Olmos, Edward Rios, Khoolaid Rios, Victor Teran. US, 2012, color, 100 min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles. RATED R S V D L
No passes accepted.
Thu, Sep 20, 7:30
$15/$12 AFI Members (2-star level & up)
In person: filmmaker David Riker at both shows
Small-town Texan Ashley (Abbie Cornish, LIMITLESS), frustrated with making ends meet on her mega-mart hourly wages and unable to provide for her beloved son, currently being raised in foster care due to her alcohol-related infractions, is desperate
to make a change. A visit from her ne'er-do-well dad Tommy (Will Patton) provides some much-needed cash, but its source is problematic —Tommy is moonlighting as a coyote, smuggling illegal Mexican immigrants across the Texas border. Initially outraged, Ashley eventually tries her own hand at this dangerous game, with unforeseen consequences. Official Selection, 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.
DIR/SCR David Riker; PROD Paul Mezey. Mexico/US, 2012, color, 90min. In English and Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED L
No passes accepted.
Sat, Sep 29, 7:15--note new time!; Sun, Sep 30, 3:00
HERE AND THERE [Aquí y allá]
Post-screening reception sponsored by the Embassy of Spain and the Mexican Cultural Institute
In person: filmmaker Antonio Méndez Esparza
After years of working odd jobs in the U.S., Pedro returns home
to his mountain village in Guerrero, Mexico. But upon his return, he finds himself a stranger in his own home. His daughters are rebellious and distant, while his wife doesn't quite welcome him with open arms. He finds brief moments of joy playing with his band, the Copa Kings, but they don't last. This lyrical debut feature finds breathtaking moments of reality in the life of a migrant worker who struggles on both sides of the border. Grand Prix, Critics Week, 2012 Cannes Film Festival; Official Selection, 2012 Karlovy Vary, San Sebastian, New York Film Festivals.
DIR/SCR/PROD Antonio Méndez Esparza; PROD Ori Dov Gratch, Pedro Hernández Santos, Tim Hobbs, Diana Wade. Spain/ US/Mexico, 2012, color, 110 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. Digital presentation. NOT RATED
No passes accepted.
Thu, Oct 4, 7:10; reception to follow
CLANDESTINE CHILDHOOD [Infancia clandestine]
Writer-director Benjamín Ávila's debut narrative feature is
a semi-autobiographical account of childhood during the Argentine junta of the late 1970s, with a twist: 12-year-old Juan and his infant sister Vicky are living under assumed names, having illegally reentered the country after years in exile, and their parents are undercover insurgents. Juan must navigate the typical challenges and confusions an adolescent boy experiences, including fitting in at his new school and the stirrings of first love with María, the older sister of a classmate, on top of the unusual and tense situation at home. Official Selection, Directors' Fortnight, 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
DIR/ SCR/PROD Benjamín Ávila; SCR Marcelo Mueller; PROD Luis Puenzo. Argentina/Spain/Brazil, 2012, color, 108 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED L
No passes accepted.
Fri, Oct 5, 7:15; Sat, Oct 6, 3:00
A SECRET WORLD [Un mundo secreto]
In person: filmmaker Gabriel Mariño at both shows
Gabriel Mariño's uncommonly assured narrative debut follows troubled Mexico City teen Maria, a lone wolf whose oddly placid demeanor —including passively consenting to sex with seemingly anyone who asks —conceals a roiling emotional interior. Only in her journal and comic strip sketches does Maria confront her contradictions and confusions, increasingly in a self-lacerating manner. Lying to her mother about a school graduation trip, Maria sets off for Baja California, the mysterious nature of her quest unclear until the film's transcendent finale. Official Selection, 2012 Berlin Film Festivals; Audience and Cinematography Awards, 2012 Guadalajara Film Festival.
DIR/SCR Gabriel Mariño; PROD Tatiana Graullera, Jesús Magaña. Mexico, 2012, color, 87 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED S L
AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT [La chispa de la vida]
An uproarious, timely media satire from genre auteur Álex de la Iglesia. One-time advertising wunderkind Roberto (Spanish TV star José Mota) made his career with a soft-drink slogan, "La chispa de la vida" ("the spark of life"); unfortunately, that was 20 years ago. Despite the love of his devoted
wife (a spirited Salma Hayek), the bank account is empty
and unemployed Roberto is desperate for a job. Things go from bad to worse when he stumbles over a guardrail at Cartagena's excavated Roman amphitheater, impaling himself on an iron rod. The media swarms to cover the plight of this desperate man, unable to be safely moved. Will the money follow? Official Selection, 2012 Berlin and Tribeca Film Festivals.
DIR Álex de la Iglesia; SCR Randy Feldman; PROD Andrés Vicente Gómez, Ximo Pérez. Spain/France/US, 2011, color, 95 min. In Spanish with English subtitles. NOT RATED L