Latino film festival comes to Hollywood

Latino International Film Festival Announces Lineup
Century City News, 10/02/2009

The 13th Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) will present the best of Latino filmmaking from October 11-16 at the Mann Chinese 6 Cinemas in Hollywood. Opening with Pedro Almodóvar’s Broken Embraces, LALIFF’s cinematic journey will continue with award-winning and sure to please films from emerging and established filmmakers from around the world including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Spain, United States, México, Panamá, Peru, Puerto Rico, Japan and Uruguay.

Depicting the diversity, creativity, innovation and sometimes, provocative, Latino experience, LALIFF’s lineup includes Gigante (Uruguay), winner of the Alfred Bauer and Best Debut Film Awards at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival; Down for Life (USA) named “the biggest surprise” at the recent Toronto International Film Festival; La Nana(Chile) winner of the World Cinema Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Don’t Let Me Drown (USA) and the documentary Sin Mapa (USA).

Established in 1997, LALIFF was co-founded by director, actor and activist Edward James Olmos; producer Marlene Dermer, and film and music producer George Hernández with the mission to support the development and exhibition of diverse visions by Latino filmmakers. Dermer, who also serves as the festival’s director and programmer says, “the Latino artistic spirit seems to remain unscathed, even though we continue to live in uncertain times. This year’s rich and diverse films will undoubtedly demonstrate the splendor of Latino cinema with stories that enable us to come together and embrace one another.”

LALIFF is pleased to present the World Premieres of Anita (Argentina),a story about a Jewish girl with Down syndrome in a conflicted Buenos Aires directed by Marcos Carnevale, LALIFF’s 2006 Audience Award Winner for his critically acclaimed film Elsa and Fred, and Grado 3(Chile), a riveting comedy about relationships by promising director Roberto Antiagoitia.

USA Premieres include Down for Life(USA) directed by Alan Jacobs, which was named “the biggest surprise of the festival” at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, starring Laz Alonso, Calvin Broadus, Kate del Castillo, Elizabeth Peña, Emily Rios with Danny Glover and introducing Jessica Romero. The film is based on a New York Times article that depicts a single, fateful day in the life of a 15-year-old Latina gang leader in South Central Los Angeles, played by newcomer Romero. In addition, El Premio (Peru)by well known Peruvian director Alberto "Chicho" Durant; Amar (To Love, Mexico) directed by Jorge Ramirez Suarez starring Maria Aura, Bruno Bichir, Tony Dalton, Pedro Damian, Luis Ernesto Franco, Diana Garcia, Javier “Chabelo” Lopez, and Adal Ramones; and the award-winning film Retorno a Hansala (Spain) directed by Chus Gutierrez, inspired by the real-life tragedy about a shipwreck of Moroccan migrants in which 37 drowned, 13 of whom were from Hansala.

West Coast Premieres include sci-fi romantic comedy Santos (Spain/Chile) directed by Nicolas Lopez starring Javier Gutierrez, Elsa Pataky and Leonardo Sbaraglia; Paraíso (USA) directed by Leon Ichaso (El Cantante, Piñero) which explores the generational and class divides within the exiled Cuban community; and Spoken Word (USA),directed by Victor Nunez (Ulee’s Gold, Ruby in Paradise) with Kuno Becker and Rubén Blades starring as son and father struggling to reconnect, and Miguel Sandoval. In a special screening, LALIFF will also present Gigante (Uruguay), the directorial debut of Adrian Biniez, who won the Alfred Bauer and Best Debut Film Awards at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival.

Los Angeles Premieres include the recipient of the World Cinema Jury Prize at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, La Nana (Chile) from director Sebastian Silva, an intelligent microcosm of Latin social hierarchy through a maid’s journey to free herself from a mental servitude of her own making; Sólo Quiero Caminar (Spain) directed by the acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Agustín Díaz Yanes starring Diego Luna, Victoria Abril, Ariadna Gil, Pilar Lopez de Ayala and Elena Ayala; El Lince Perdido (The Missing Lynx, Spain), winner of the 2009 Goya Award for Best Animated Film, directed by Manuel Sicilia and Raúl García; and El Cuerno de la Abundancia, (Horn of Plenty, Cuba) directed by Juan Carlos Tabio, a wonderfully crafted comedy that reflects on the socio-economic difficulties of contemporary Cuba starring Jorge Perugorria, Paula Ali, Mirtha Ibarra, Laura De La Uz, Enrique Molina and Yoima Valdes.

LALIFF will also present a special screening of the heartfelt family drama La Mission(USA), directed by Sundance Film Festival veteran Peter Bratt (Follow me Home) starring Benjamin Bratt, Jesse Borrego, Jeremy Ray Valdez, Max Rosenak, Patrik Shining Elk, Erika Alexander, Christopher Borgzinner.

Films competing in the Opera Prima Category include the USA Premiere of Morenita (Mexico) the award-winning film by Alan Jonson Gavica, recipient of the Best Director Award at the Huelva Latin American Film Festival. The film tells the story about a man who, in a desperate attempt to save his family from a notorious drug dealer, causes absolute pandemonium when he kidnaps Mexico and Latin America’s most adored religious icon, the Virgin of Guadalupe. Additional films in the category, include the West Coast Premieres of El Regalo de la Pachamama (Bolivia), a beautiful spiritual tale by Japanese director Toshifumi Matsushita; Cinco Días Sin Nora (Five Days Without Nora, Mexico)the internationally acclaimed dark comedy written and directed by Mariana Chenillo, and Don’t Let Me Drown (USA) directed by Cruz Angeles, which follow two Latino teens in a post-September 11 world, starring E.J. Bonilla, Geendilys Inoa, Gina Torres, Ricardo Antonio Chavira, Yareli Arizmendi and Damian Alcazar. The winner of the Best Film Award by the Jalisco Academy of Motion Pictures and Visual Arts at the 2009Guadalajara International Film Festival, Amar a Morir (Mexico/Colombia) directed by Fernando Lebrija will have its Los Angeles Premiere after a successful box office run in Mexico. This film was conceived and written by two filmmakers who met when they participated at the 7thedition of LALIFF.

Ranging from social and political films to personal journeys, this year’s Documentary Category include Sin Mapa (USA) directed by Marc De Beaufort, an insight into the internationally renowned Latin urban alternative duo, Calle 13, as they choose to disappear from the map after winning six Grammys to embark on an exploration through Ecuador, Peru and the Amazon to connect with thepeople and cultures distant from their fans. In addition, making their directorial debut, Luis Rincón brings El Arbol Olvidado (The Forgotten Tree, Mexico), and John Urbano with the documentary Beauty of The Fight, (Panama/USA), winner of the Best Documentary Award at the 2009 Athens International Film and Video Festival. Also in the category, Pachamama (Brazil) directed by Eryk Rocha, gives a voice to the otherwise silenced inhabitants of the Brazilian rain forest and Stages (USA) directed by Meerkat Media Collective, an unlikely, though moving and surprisingly funny collaboration between young and old.

The vitality of Cuba is present in two documentaries: Titón, de La Habana a Guantanamera (Titón, from Havana to Guantanamera, Spain) about the life of acclaimed filmmaker Titón, Tomás Gutierrez Alea, directed by actress and Titon’s wife, Mirtha Ibarra; and the highly anticipated Sons of Cuba (Cuba) directed by Andrew Lang, which gives a glance into the reclusive and prestigious Havana Boxing Academy, the boarding school that hand picks 9-year-old boys to turn them into the best boxers in the world and has made Cuba a dominating force in Olympic boxing for the past quarter of a century.

LALIFF is also presenting a documentary selection from Latino Public Broadcast (LPB), including the winner of the Freedom Award at the 2009 Al Jazeera International Documentary Film Festival in Doha, Qatar, New Muslim Cool (USA) directed by Jennifer Maytorena Taylor. The film chronicles the life of Hamza Pérez, an American of Puerto Rican heritage who was a gang member and a drug dealer before converting to Islam. Other documentaries include Children of the Amazon (Brazil) directed by Denise Zmekhol; Latin Music USA: Bridges–Chicano Wave (USA) directed by John Jay Valadez and Latin Music USA: Bridges–Divas and Superstars (USA) directed by Adriana Bosch.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science recognizes LALIFF as a qualifying festival, making the winner of its Short Film Category eligible for Oscar® consideration. LALIFF is proud to present exceptional films that hail from all over the world making this year one of the most competitive and exciting programs ever. From immigration, family drama, to comedies and love stories, LALIFF’s Shorts Program titles will be presented as follows:

BORDER STORIES:
Amanecer (Colombia/Australia), dir. Álvaro D. Ruiz; Braceros (USA/Brazil), dir. Belinda J. Carreño; The Book of the Border(USA/Mexico), dir. Andrés Torres-Vives; Niña Quebrada (USA) dir. Jen Kleiner, and Tijuanerso (USA/Mexico) dir. Paul Bodadilla.

COMEDY:
El Tío Facundo (Mexico/Cuba), dir. Alejandro Cachoua; No se Preocupe (Spain) dir. Eva Ungria Lupiani; Porque hay Cosas que Nunca se Olvidan (Spain) dir. Lucas Figueroa; El Trip, (USA); Ventura Montoya; El Tux, (USA) dir. Paco Farias; Twilight Tango (USA) dir. Jason C. Sting, and The Last White Dishwasher (USA), dir. Claudia Duran.

LOVE STORIES:
Amor Crudo (Argentina) dir. Martín Deus and Juan Chappa; Prayer in the Night (Denmark) dir. Inma Carpe; La Nostalgia del Sr. Alambre (Mexico) dir. Jonathan Ostos Yaber; Cómo Conocí a tu Padre (Spain), dir. Alex Montoya, and Red Mesa (USA) dir. Ilana Lapid.

CITY STORIES:
El Muerto (Puerto Rico) dir. Williamson Quintero; Pim, Pam, Pum (Spain) dir. Andoni De Carlos, Asier Urbeita; Hermanos (USA) dir. Maria Biber-Ferro; Quase Todo el Día (USA) dir. Gandja Monteiro; Rising Up (USA) dir. Eduardo Letamendi; Tag (USA) dir. Henry “Heno” Fernandez, and Little Village (USA) dir. David Priego.

DRAMA/FAMILY:
Inocente- (Brazil) dir. Beto Schultz, Thiago Luciano; Marina la Esposa del Pescador (Spain) dir. Carlos Hernández; Socarrat (Spain) dir. David Moreno; Cleats (USA) dir. María Agui Carter; La Guerrera (USA) dir. Erika Cohn, and Death Rattle (USA) dir. A.J. Garces.

DRAMA/LOSS:
El Descubrimiento (Mexico) dir. Alonso Álvarez Barreda; El Viejo (Mexico) dir. Gabriela Paciel; Abuelo (USA); dir.Mary Ann Kellogg; Hacia la Vida (USA/Mexico) dir. Fidel Arizmendi; The Memory of When (USA) dir. Gary Pérez; Tango (USA) dir. Allan Girón, and Welcome to Paradox (USA) dir. Archie Hernández.
[Arancele (Brazil) dir. Melo Viana will be screened with Titón, de la Habana a Guantanamera]

Pedro Almodóvar’s Broken Embraces (Spain) will have its West Coast Premiere during the festival’s Opening Night and GABI Lifetime Achievement Award Galaon Sunday, October 11 at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre(6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA). Written and directed by Almodóvar, the film stars Penélope Cruz, Lluís Homar, Blanca Portillo, José Luis Gómez, Rubén Ochandiano and Tamar Novas. Almodóvar will also be honored with the GABI Lifetime Achievement Award.

LALIFF’s screenings will take place at the Mann Chinese 6 Cinemas at 6925 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90028-6103. The Closing Night and the Award Ceremony & Gala will take place on Friday, October 16 at Paramount Theatre at the Paramount Studio Lot, 5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90038.

For more information LALIFF, festival screenings and to buy tickets, please visit: www.latinofilm.org.

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