It’s back! After a 2-year pandemic-induced hiatus, the 15th annual Latin Wave Film Festival crashes into the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on Thursday, April 21st, flooding the museum’s Brown Auditorium and Lynn Wyatt Theater with the flavors of Latin American cinema through Sunday, April 24th. This year’s festival features 11 films from 7 countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. Special guests include 4 of the films’ directors and Latin Wave Programming Director Carlos A. Gutiérrez.
Gutiérrez, co-founder of Cinema Tropical, is based out of NYC and he’s a leading programmer of Latin American cinema. He’s got big shoes to fill after taking the reins from longtime Latin Wave Artistic Director and Programmer Diana Sanchez, who left after the 2019 festival to focus on her expanding duties at TIFF. She brought a wide range of quality films to Houston and Gutiérrez looks to follow in the same spirit, presenting a diverse lineup for the festival’s triumphant return. Lets check out the menu.
Latin Wave welcomes back LA-based Peruvian doctor-turned-director Javier Fuentes-León to present The Best Families, his satirical look at the divide in social classes via a privileged family and the people they employ as “the help.” It’s an entertaining movie and the screening will be fun. Side note: I love the look of the bright red letters in the opening credits sequence and the depiction of housemaids Luzmila and Peta’s epic journey just to get to work. (Having ridden public transportation in Texas, that hit home.) Fuentes-León previously attended Latin Wave #5 in 2010 with his first feature, Undertow.
The City of Wild Beasts takes us to the mean streets of Medellín, Colombia where battle rapper Tato (Bryan Córdoba) is forced to move to the countryside with his grandpa, a total stranger, when his mother dies. Director Henry Rincón captures the chaotic energy of the setting and of a young man in spiral, trying to find his way. Cinematographer Camilo Monsalve Ossa provides some great shots and views of the city and mountainous terrain.
Dos Estaciones transports us to a tequila factory in the Mexican Jalisco highlands and tells the story of María García and her seemingly futile fight to hold on to her business. María is played by Teresa Sánchez in a quietly impactful performance that earned her a Special Jury Prize for Acting at Sundance. This film is human through and through and it’s devoid of any Hollywood formula or flair. Compelling filmmaking from director Juan Pablo González, who will be in attendance to present the film.
César Cabral’s Bob Spit: We Do Not Like People is one of those unique gems it seems like you only stumble upon at a film festival. It’s an independent stop-motion animated film with elements of documentary, based on renowned Brazilian cartoonist Angeli and his popular punk creation Bob Spit. It’s a wild ride featuring the Kowalski brothers, punk music, and a pantless green-peckered goon fighting a gang of mini mutant Elton Johns.
Mari Carmen Ramírez, The Wortham Curator of Latin American Art, MFAH, will be in the house to introduce Alberto Arelo’s documentary Free Color on Franco-Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez’s work and his quest to present color without form. Bonus: Cruz-Diez created the Chromosaturation MFAH light installation located in the Cherie and Jim Flores Tunnel in the MFAH’s new Nancy and Rich Kinder Building. You’ll be able to walk through it before and after the screening and experience one of his creations firsthand. Chances are, if you’ve already had a chance to visit the new building, you probably snapped a picture of it or inside it. (I know I did.)
Argentine director Ana Katz will also be in town with her latest film, The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet. It’s about a man going through a midlife crises while navigating a disaster-rocked world and it’s shot in black and white to really hammer home the awkward dismal feelings.
Other films screening at Latin Wave 15 include Nathalie Álvarez Mesén’s Cannes Director’s Fortnight favorite Clara Sola set in Costa Rica during a quinceañera. Aly Muritiba’s Private Desert, a Brazilian-Portuguese production about a man searching for his lost internet lover. Comala in which director Gian Cassini “sets out to uncover the truth of his own broken family, while learning about his absent father’s story as a failed hit man murdered in Mexico.” Fernando Trueba’s Memories of My Father, which takes us back to Medellín, this time in the violent 70s, to tell the story of Hector Abad Gómez, a renowned doctor and human-rights activist. And Maximiliano Schonfeld’s Jesús Lopez a co-production from Argentina and France about a racer who dies in a motorcycle accident and his teenage cousin who’s tempted to take his place.
The forecast calls for another classic Latin Wave! Check out the schedule and get your tickets here.
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