Archive | November, 2010

Sex sells manifestos in Catalan elections

28 Nov

As the Catalans go to the ballots today after an election campaign dominated by sex and distasteful content, voters are left wondering why the parties went to such lengths to win their vote, and whether it will pay off.

With over 280,000 hits on You Tube, the Socialist Party’s video ‘Votar es un plaer‘ (Voting is a Pleasure), which shows a woman voter reaching orgasm at the ballot box, looks set to scoop the popularity prize. The ad was produced by the Young Socialists of Cataluña and aimed to interest young voters with quirky sexual content throughout.

The trend was set two weeks ago by the new Catalan Solidarity for Independence Party who recruited a porn star, Maria Lapiedra, to appear at their campaign rallies. Perhaps this is what’s to be expected from a party set up by Joan Laporta, the former chairman of Barcelona football club. Continue reading

Opposition through film in Clandestí: Invisible Catalan Cinema under Franco

25 Nov

Little is known of the hardship the Spanish people experienced under Franco’s dictatorship from 1939 to 1975 due to press censorship and isolationism. However, a new series of films created in secrecy during his regime are set to reveal this suffering first hand, some for the first time.

Clandestí: Invisible Catalan Cinema under Franco, which takes place tomorrow until 30th November at BFI Southbank, features works produced by a group of Catalan filmmakers who chronicled the lives of workers, activists and artists living in one of the most fierce centres of opposition to the fascist regime.

These brave artists were connected with workers’ movements and outlawed opposition parties, such as Santiago Carrillo’s Communists, and managed to distribute their film through recreation centres, private homes, cinema clubs, universities and schools. Many of the films have no credits in order to protect the identities of their participants. Continue reading

Argentine director Teresa Costantini on her latest film, Felicitas

22 Nov

Teresa Costantini

As the director and actress Teresa Costantini leans towards me, asking my opinion of her latest film Felicitas, which received its European debut in the London Latin American Film Festival last week, I almost feel like I’ve become the interviewee. Her warmth, the type you find in so many Latin American people, makes her friendly and inquisitive and when we part I’m quickly aware that a good old British handshake does not suffice.

Brought up in Buenos Aires, Costantini has appeared in numerous popular Latin American films since her career took off in the early 1970s. Among the films she has directed, she won an Argentinean Film Critics Association Award for El Amor y La Ciudad in 2006.

Felicitas is an exquisite, emotionally harrowing film which portrays the story of Felicitas Guerrero de Álzaga who lived among the land-owning classes of Buenos Aires in the mid nineteenth century. The pattern of tragic events in her short life tells us a great deal about women’s position in the early Argentine Republic. Continue reading

European premiere for Teresa Costantini’s Felicitas

21 Nov

The European premiere of Teresa Costantini’s latest film Felicitas lent an explosive start to the twentieth London Latin American Film Festival. It is a harrowing, emotional roller-coaster of a film that tells the story of Felicitas Guerrero de Álzaga who lived among the affluent, land-owning class of Buenos Aires in the nineteenth century.

Costantini’s portrayal of the time period is flawless; the colonial architecture, period dress, contrast of country and city and presentation of women’s role in society combine to transport the audience to the birth of the Argentine Republic. Many indications highlight women’s lack of independence as Felicitas’ father warns ‘ya tiene dueño’ (she already has a master) and her cousin’s progressive thesis on women’s rights is met with fierce opposition.

The film opens with a portrayal of blissful young love as Felicitas and her adoring boyfriend, Enrique Ocampo, laughingly chase one another through a pastoral scene. But, true to the biographical details of her life, it is not long before Felicitas’ childish ignorance is dashed by one tragedy after another.

At 15 years old she is betrothed to a wealthy landowner, Don Martín de Álzaga, who is 40 years her senior, and she is forbidden from ever speaking to Enrique again. Queue a series of uncomfortable wedding scenes in which the two barely speak, accompanied by the preamble to the couple’s first night together in which the sight of Álzaga undressing a tearful Felicitas makes one’s skin crawl. Continue reading

Eva Tarr-Kirkhope: Fixated by film

17 Nov

She claims she is tired, and that’s to be expected after her months of hard work as director of the twentieth London Latin American Film Festival, which launches tonight. But despite her supposed fatigue, Eva Tarr-Kirkhope chatters away happily, driven by an infectious passion for Latin American cinema and clearly excited about what she hopes will be her best festival yet.

In Eva’s words, this year’s festival will be “really, really, really big”, celebrating both LLAFF’s 20th anniversary and the bicentenary of Latin American independence. Over 40 films are showing at various venues and Eva hopes to pull in a crowd of up to 20,000 people, twice the number who attended last year’s event.

Eva Tarr-Kirkhope

But the festival has not always enjoyed such success since Eva and her husband first launched it in 1990 when Latin American film was barely known in London. “Back then the festival only lasted one week. We didn’t really know how to approach it then but it grew bit by bit. The audiences and the amount of films we have now is amazing.”

Originally from Cuba, Eva met her film-maker husband Tony Kirkhope in Havana and moved to the UK in 1979. Studying History of Art at Havana University, she had been influenced by the Cuban revolution’s push for social change and saw the lower classes empowered by education. After the revolution, she worked in Cuban cinema during its Golden Age when filmmakers such as Tomas Piard and Sara Gómez were creating new genres. Continue reading

The best of Latin American film comes to London

15 Nov

Are you a fan of Alejandro González Iñárritu or Alfonso Cuarón? Do Gabriel García Bernal and Diego Luna make you go a bit weak at the knees? Do you relish the gritty realism of Rosario Tijeras or Amores Perros? Or perhaps you’re new to Latin American cinema, in which case a real treat awaits you. This month the London Latin American Film Festival (LLAFF) celebrates its 20th anniversary with more films on offer and more venues than ever before.

From 19th to 28th November LLAFF will showcase 40 of the latest offerings in Latin American cinema in seven venues across the capital. The festival is bigger than ever this year as its anniversary coincides with the bicentenary of Latin American Independence. Eva Tarr-Kirkhope, the director and founder of LLAFF, said: “I wanted to make this year really, really, really big and I’m so pleased we have had so many films submitted. I’m still receiving submissions now when the closing date was in July. We could potentially have an audience of up to 20,000 people in total. It is very exciting for me.”

Animated feature film Chico y Rita

Through documentaries, shorts and feature films the festival aims to tackle the most relevant and poignant themes to the Latin American people. The centrality of the family in Latin American culture is obvious across the different genres. Films such as Chico y Rita, The Crab, the Crocodile and Love in Cuba and Revolution present nostalgia for the 1960s and 1970s, partly through a love of music. The documentary Rio Breaks, presents the poverty of Rio’s favelas with a twist as two young boys enter the surfer community of Arpoador Beach in search of making the big time. Continue reading

Hello world: Paraguay’s Ayoreo Indians at risk from outside contact

13 Nov

In our modern, globalised world it is easy to assume that everyone partakes in a modern, technologically-advanced existence that revolves around computers, efficient transport, mass media and all the luxuries they entail. But earlier this week we were reminded that this is not the case as London’s Natural History Museum tackled criticism for their fact-finding mission to an area of Paraguay inhabited by an indigenous tribe.

The Ayoreo Indians who live in the forest expanse of the Gran Chaco, which stretches from Paraguay to Bolivia and Argentina, first came into contact with outsiders in the 1940s and 1950s. Today only 300 Ayoreos remain uncontacted out of a population of 2,000 according to Survival International. It is their virgin territory that the Natural History Museum’s scientists intend to visit.

Iniciativa Amotocodie, an indigenous people’s protection group based in Paraguay, has criticised the expedition saying that contact with previously isolated tribes will introduce new diseases and lead to ‘genocide’. Their spokesman said: “If this expedition goes ahead, we will not be able to understand why you prefer to lose human lives just because the English scientists want to study plants and animals”. Continue reading