2012: Film novelties at a glance
The year 2012 reached San Francisco with promising film novelties, but it was festivals, galleries and independent screens that again offered the freshest and most original proposals coming from Latin America and Latino U.S.
From Argentine Milagros Mumenthaler to Mexican Natalia Almada, and including a series of shorts by local woman filmmakers of Brazilian origin, in the year 2012 the woman filmmaker was very present expressing her vision behind the lens.
With the spring came good weather along with the SF International Film Festival, with Latin America being the part of the world that shone the most in its quality of cinema.
Three key titles are worth highlighting that belonged to the New Directors section: “Found Memories”(Julia Murat, Brazil), “Back to Stay” (Mumenthaler) and “By the Fire” (Alejandro Fernández Almendras, Chile). They were three of the most outstanding films that this year’s new comers section had to offer and worth the title of ”best of the year.”
Another very well received film in the festival was “Mosquita y Mari” (Aurora Guerrero, U.S.), a very solid debut by a local filmmaker. Guerrero is already writing the screenplay for a new project titled “The Brave Ones.”
“Neighbouring Sounds” (Kleber Mendonca Filho, Brazil), a film about an urban drama with a vengeance, and “The Double Steps” (Isaki Lacuesta, Spain), a colorful tale narrated with poetry, were two other films that shone.
In the independent realm, Cinema Errante put together an ambitious series of classical Brazilian cinema at Artists’ Television Access, which presented the work of local Brazilian filmmakers Carolina Moraes-Liu “Ebony Goddess: The Queen of Ile Aiye,” Savana Vagueiro “City Under Water” and Rita Piffer “Clarice’s Cups.” Three representative shorts, each one of them with its own vision.
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts indulged film lovers during the month of June with an extensive series of 29 Filipino films, including the most recent work by Lav Diaz, “Florentina Hubaldo,” that is six hours long. Diaz is a true master testing the boundaries of cinema.
That same month, Galería de la Raza screened the very well done “Precious Knowledge,” a documentary about the attacks on ethnic studies in the state of Arizona, and it was very well received by attendees.
As summer approached, SF Film Society screened the documentary “Ballplayer: Pelotero,” a splendid coproduction between the Dominican Republic and the U.S., which talks about the politics of baseball.
In September, as autumn approached, Cine Mas and the SF Latino Film Festival came to town, where local talent was represented by Jay Francisco Lopez’ “Sin Padre.” Another part of the festival was a wonderful shorts program screened at the Mission Cultural Center, the highlight of which was “Behind the Mirrors” by Peruvian filmmaker Julio O. Ramos.
With its forth edition, the SF Latino Film Festival stood out for how well organized and consolidated it has become. Many of the screenings that took place during the festival were packed.
In the Bay Area we also had the opportunity to view the work of Paraguayan filmmaker Paz Encina. Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley screened her latest work, the short “A Wind from the South,” in September, along with her 2006 epic feature “Paraguayan Hammock.”
Worth highlighting as well, are two independent cinematographic efforts still in the works that will come to completion next year. We were lucky enough to see footage of the two projects at Brava Theater this year.
“Beyond La Bamba” (aka “Son siglos”), directed by Marco Villalobos and Daffodil Altán, is a wonderful documentary about the Son Jarocho musical style shot in Veracruz, Mexico, and the U.S.
“The Other Barrio,” is an original local project in the film noir genre that was shot in the Mission. The project is being put together by renowned names like Culture Clash’s Richard Montoya, the photographer Lou Dematteis and SF Poet Laureate Alejandro Murguía.
Closing the year, Pacific Film Archive and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts were honored to screen one of the year’s best films, the wonderful “The Night Watchman” (Natalia Almada, Mexico), a subtle and stunning masterpiece.
At the commercial level, it is worth mentioning “Searching for Sugar Man,” a documentary made by Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul about the 1970s Detroit songwriter Sixto Rodriguez. The film astonished everyone by staying on the screen for months.
Years ago, international film circles were discussing the idea of a new wave of Latin American cinema. It is common today that new films by established filmmakers like Lucrecia Martel, Carlos Reygadas or Pablo Trapero are highly anticipated.
Let’s wish the same fate to these wonderful filmmakers who entered the stage this past year.
—Translation Steven Ruiz-Kaye