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.

Nicolas Ureta's The Bridge

Many films in this year’s festival treat issues surrounding immigration and the lack of freedom of travel and work for those without papers, the indocumentados. One of these is The Bridge, which unmasks London’s cosmopolitan appeal to reveal the obstacles faced by Latin American immigrants who hope to make successful careers here. Eva, who settled in the UK in 1979 after meeting her British husband in Cuba, said: “This has been going on for twenty years or more. We’ve been treating this theme since the first festival. Personally, if I hadn’t married my husband in Cuba I would never have been able to come to Britain.”

Even the most stubborn of Anglophones are welcome as all the films have English subtitles. And rather than just cater for London’s Latin American community, the festival has international appeal, pulling in inquisitive tourists from all over the world alongside enthusiasts of Hispanic culture.

Shira Macleod, Cinema Director at Riverside Studios, this year’s main venue, said: “We are delighted to continue our involvement with the London Latin American Film Festival. Riverside Studios has enjoyed a long relationship with them for many years. It is a great opportunity to unearth cinematic delights from the region and we’re pleased to be showcasing some great work.”

Each year the festival includes some fundraising events to support Latin American charities. In a fundraiser on Sunday 21st November, a night of Eastern Colombian music and a special charity screening, proceeds will go to Children of the Andes which supports street children in Colombia.

For Oliver Stone, Latin America's revolution is ongoing

Hispanic London’s pick of the festival: Oliver Stone’s South of the Border. There’s a revolution underway in South America, but most of the world doesn’t know it.  On a road trip across five countries, Oliver Stone explores Latin America’s social and political movements and their misrepresentation in the mainstream media. He interviews seven of Latin America’s elected Presidents: Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Cristina Kirchner (Argentina), as well as her husband and ex-President Nestor Kirchner, Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), and Raúl Castro (Cuba). The documentary reveals how exciting a transformation Latin America is undergoing at the moment politically, socially and economically.

What’s next: For the past twenty years, the London Latin American Film Festival has been a labour of love for its creator, Eva Tarr-Kirkhope who claims to have put Latin American film on the map, in London at least. In an exclusive interview coming soon, Hispanic London tells Eva’s story from working in cinema in her native Cuba to establishing the festival in 1990 with her film producer husband Tony Kirkhope. Watch this space…

Images: LLAFF

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