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Latin Wave 11 at the MFAH


Boy and the World

¡Hola, fanáticos del cine! From Thursday, April 28th, through Sunday, May 1st, the 11th edition of Latin Wave: New Films from Latin America screens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. This year’s festival appropriately features 11 films that showcase Latin America’s diverse film culture, with an array of motion pictures from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, and Venezuela.

Three of these films appeared at the 2016 Academy Awards: Embrace of the Serpent, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, Boy and the World, nominated for Best Animated Feature Film, and Bear Story, winner of the Best Animated Short Film award.

Three debut films will screen at Latin Wave: the Venezuelan suspense tale about an unexpected friendship, From Afar, by Lorenzo Vigas; the award-winning hit Volcano by Guatemalan filmmaker Jayro Bustamante, depicting the lives of the indigenous Kaqchikel people; and Mexican filmmaker Alejandra Marquez Abella’s Semana Santa, which chronicles a mother and son on vacation with her new boyfriend.

Embrace of the Serpent

Embrace of the Serpent

I’ve seen two of the films and they’re fantastic. Embrace of the Serpent, from Colombia, is one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. It features Jan Bijvoet as a German explorer and Nilbio Torres as a young Shaman in the Colombian rainforest. Shot in gorgeous black-and-white, director Ciro Guerra’s “Herzog-ian fever dream” shows the devastating effects of European colonialism on the Amazon, and the dissipating culture of its inhabitants. Inspired work.

The Second Mother, from Brazil, stars Regina Casé as Val, a longtime live-in nanny/housekeeper in São Paulo who cares for a family and raises their son Fabhino as if he were her own, at the expense of her relationship with her own daughter, Jéssica. When outspoken Jéssica visits and stays with her mom, the family dynamics are thrown into disarray and the results are entertaining and surprisingly moving. I recommend both movies and look forward to checking out the rest of the films in the festival.

The Second Mother

In addition to the screenings, audience members can interact with internationally acclaimed filmmakers and special guests including Lorenzo Vigas, director of From Afar, Jayro Bustamante, director of Volcano, and Cristina Garza, producer and international sales agent.

Tickets are available here. Check out the schedule, descriptions of the films, and other info:

Our Last Tango (Un tango más)
Directed by German Kral
(Argentina, 2015, 85 min., in Spanish with English subtitles) Thursday, April 28, at 7 p.m.
Sunday, May 1, at 1 p.m.

Tango’s most famous pairing, Maria Nieves and Juan Copes, revolutionized and revitalized the once-waning dance in a relationship, both on and off the dance floor, spanning four decades. Now in their 80s and no longer on speaking terms, these two tango greats discuss their humble past and their tense personal relationship – and all that each gave up in the name of the dance. The documentary, executive-produced by Wim Wenders, interviews each of the dancers, and vignettes reconstruct their early years as they rose to fame in their mission to bring tango to the international stage.


From Afar (Desde allá)
Directed and presented by Lorenzo Vigas, writer and director (Venezuela/Mexico, 2015, 93 min., in Spanish with English subtitles) Thursday, April 28, 9 p.m.
Saturday, April 30, 7 p.m.

Armando, middle-aged and solitary, lures young men from the streets to his Caracas apartment with the promise of money. Life takes an unexpected turn when he meets 17-year-old Elder. This relationship begins with violence, but transforms as a surprising intimacy emerges, for
which neither man is prepared. Vigas paints a portrait of a multi-tiered society in Venezuela, providing context to his resonant story about an impossible friendship between two men. The film was awarded the Golden Lion at the 2015 Venice Film Festival.


The Second Mother (¿Que horas Ela Volta?)
Directed by Anna Muylaert
(Brazil, 2015, 112 min., in Portuguese with English subtitles) Friday, April 29, 5:00 p.m.

Val, a São Paolo nanny and housekeeper, complicates the attitudes of a young man’s affluent and critical parents, who treat Val like a second- class citizen. The family is disrupted when Val’s estranged and accomplished daughter Jéssica visits unexpectedly. A delicate mixture of drama and humor create a compelling exploration of the unusual dynamics that occur when different layers of Brazilian economic and social classes are joined together in the family home.


ixcanul

Volcano (Ixcanul)
Directed and presented by Jayro Bustamante, writer and director (Guatemala/France, 2015, 93 min., in Maya and Spanish with English subtitles) Friday, April 29, at 7:15 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m.

Teenaged Maria lives with her family at the base of an active volcano. They are hard-working Kaqchikel-speaking Mayans, harvesting coffee beans for a Spanish-speaking overseer to whom Maria is promised in marriage. But she yearns for someone else, Pepe, who dreams of leaving the village and travelling to the United States. When these two come together one evening, their union has tragic consequences. This brilliant dream-like debut by Jayro Bustamante examines the customs and traditions of the film’s indigenous characters.


I Promise You Anarchy (Te prometo anarquía)
Directed by Julio Hernández Cordón
(Mexico/Germany, 2015, 100 min., in Spanish with English subtitles) Friday, April 29, at 9 p.m.

This story follows two teenage lovers in Mexico City who become embroiled in the city’s illegal, narco-run blood trade. They skate with their friends through the chaotic neighborhoods of Mexico City, revel in their blissful sexuality, and make a bit of cash in the illegal blood trade. A contact connects them with narcos—drug traffickers who need black-market blood, since they cannot go to hospitals—and it seems like a perfect way to make a lot of money. But soon the boys are in over their heads, their eyes opened too late to the truly disturbing underground network of clinics servicing victims of the drug wars.


Boy and the World (O menino e o mundo)
Directed by Alê Abreu, introduced by hang@MFAH, the Museum’s teen program
(Brazil, 2013, 80 min.; music with no dialogue)
Saturday, April 30, at 1 p.m.

Cuca’s cozy rural life is shattered when his father leaves for the city, prompting him to embark on a quest to reunite his family. The young boy’s journey unfolds like a tapestry, the animation taking on greater complexity as his small world expands. Entering civilization, industrial landscapes are inhabited by animal-machines, with barrios of decoupage streets and shop windows, and flashing neon advertisements that illuminate the night. The story depicts a clash between village and city, hand-crafted and mechanized, rich and poor. A soundscape of pan-flute, samba, and Brazilian hip-hop mixes with the whirling carnival colors and exploding fireworks. The film was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Animated Feature 2016.


The Pearl Button (El botón de nácar)
Directed by Patricio Guzmán
(Chile/France/Spain, 2014, 82 min., in Spanish with English subtitles) Preceded by:

Bear Story (Historia de un oso)
Directed by Gabriel Osorio
(Chile, 2014, 11 min., in Spanish with English subtitles)
Saturday, April 30, at 3 p.m.

Guzmán contemplates the lack of relationship that Chileans have with the Pacific, despite the country’s nearly 2,500 miles of coastline. Before colonial times, the Kaweskar (Water People) paddled the length of the immense Chilean coast, living in harmony with the waters that provided their livelihood. Through interviews with some of the last remaining Kaweskar, Guzmán chronicles the terrible devastation wrought by colonial genocide. The film will be preceded by Bear Story (Historia de un oso), directed by Gabriel Osorio. This Oscar-winning allegory about the “disappeared” in Pinochet’s Chile is an animated tale of an elderly bear recalling his life by entertaining people on the street with mechanical puppetry.


Embrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente)
Directed by Ciro Guerra
(Colombia/Venezuela/Argentina, 2015, 125 min., in Spanish with English subtitles) Saturday, April 30, at 9 p.m. Sunday, May 1, at 7 p.m.

Effortlessly weaving parallel narratives that occur on the same stretch of the Amazon, Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra tracks the devastation wrought by colonialism on this once pristine, thriving environment. In 1909, German explorer Theodor Koch-Grünberg and his guide enlist the help of young shaman Karamakate to help them find the elusive yakuna plant, whose healing powers they believe will cure the explorer’s illness. In 1940, the region now ravaged by the rubber trade, American explorer Richard Evans Schultes searches for that same flower, accompanied by an older Karamakate. The film was nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Foreign Language Film 2016.


Semana Santa
Directed by Alejandra Marquez, presented by Cristina Garza, international sales agent
(Mexico, 2015, 85 min., in Spanish with English subtitles) Saturday, April 30, at 5 p.m.

Dali and her new boyfriend Chavez travel to Mexico’s coast with her eight-year-old son Pepe in tow. Pepe misses his recently deceased Dad, and Dali wants to spend time with her son but feels disengaged, while Chavez struggles to figure out how to pay for the whole escapade. As tensions mount, each sets off on a separate adventure that underlines the disjointed nature of this new family unit.


Absence (Ausência)
Directed by Chico Teixeira, presented by Cristina Garza, international sales agent
(Brazil/Chile/France, 2015, 87 min., in Portuguese with English subtitles) Sunday, May 1, 5:00 p.m.

Fifteen-year-old Serginho has to grow up quickly. His father has left the family and his mother has a drinking problem, leaving Serginho responsible for his younger brother, Mateus. No longer in school, Serginho must juggle a difficult home life and a job working for his uncle at a vegetable market. He seeks comfort hanging out with his friends, and in spending time with Ney, a tutor who is also the object of a confusing crush, and his aunt Ivone, a circus performer.


Special Guests:

Lorenzo Vigas; Director, From Afar
Presenting Thursday, April 28, and Saturday, April 30

Lorenzo Vigas was born in Mérida, Venezuela. He studied filmmaking at New York University before moving to Caracas, where he spent several years directing documentaries and commercials. In 2004, while living in Mexico, he directed Los elefantes nunca olvida, the multiple award-winning short film that premiered in the Cannes Critics Week and started a trilogy about the missing father in Latin America. The second instalment of the trilogy is his debut feature film Desde allá which premiered at the Venice International Film festival, where it became the first film from Latin America to win the Golden Lion, the top prize. He will film La Caja later this year, and is also completing a documentary about his father Oswaldo Vigas, an artist who represented in the Museum’s collection.

Jayro Bustamante; Director, Volcano
Presenting Friday, April 29, and Sunday, May 1

Jayro Bustamante credits his multilingual skills to his early Montessori education in Guatemala where he lived in the highlands populated by the Kaqchikel tribe until age 14. Between the ages 17 to 19, he was an in-house commercials director at Ogilvy and Mather where he saved to fund his European film education. Film school studies in Paris and Rome have informed Bustamante’s work, which includes his Cannes-winning short Cuando Sea Grande. His feature debut Ixcanul (Volcano) was awarded the 2015 Berlinale Silver Bear Alfred Bauer Prize and 41 other international awards. Up next is Guatemala City-set paternity drama, Temblores, based on another true story.

Cristina Garza; Producer and International Sales Agent
Presenting Saturday, April 30, and Sunday May 1

A native Houstonian, Cristina Garza has an impressive list of accomplishments. She is the Vice President of MUNDIAL, a Mexico City- based international film sales joint venture between prolific Hollywood production financing and distribution company IM GLOBAL and CANANA, one of Latin America’s top production and independent distributors. She co‐ founded FilmCatcher.com, an online video Magazine for independent film. She is also currently the U.S. Delegate for the International Critics Week of the Cannes Film Festival, and produces with CANANA and filmmaker Robert Rodriguez Mercado Fantástico at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, the first co- production market for genre films from Latin America.


About MFAH Films:

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Film Department offers moviegoers a unique venue for appreciating both classic and contemporary films. Presenting more than 200 screenings annually, programming includes premieres of significant new independent productions. Since screening its first films in 1938, the goals of MFAH Films include introducing audiences to the genius of film; responding to an evolving medium; stimulating discourse through the shared experience of watching films; and inspiring the next generation to value film and other moving-image arts. Screenings take place in Brown Auditorium Theater, designed by renowned Bauhaus architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. This unique venue offers a superb movie-going experience with stadium seating, Dolby Digital sound, and projection capabilities ranging from 35mm reel- to-reel to 4K digital formats. In conjunction with the film screenings, the Museum hosts appearances by filmmakers, critics, and scholars, whose perspectives add fresh insights. Visit www.mfah.org/film for more information.

Funding:

Latin Wave: New Films from Latin America is organized by the MFAH in association with the creative partner Fundación PROA, Buenos Aires. Sponsored by Tenaris.

The MFAH film department is supported by Tenaris; Gensler; Salle and James Vaughn; Nina and Michael Zilkha; James V. Derrick; The ILEX Foundation; Franci Neely; and Lynn S. Wyatt.


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