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The First Latin American Film Festival

Tamara Acosta in the Chilean film Revenge (La Desquite)

In a first for New Zealand, a festival of movies from Latin America comes to the Paramount Theatre in Wellington from Anzac Day through to 1 May 2002.

The First Latin American Film Festival is an initiative from Kerry Robins of DeLuxe Cinemas, and the Ambassadors of the Latin American countries represented in Wellington: Enrique de La Torre of Argentina, Edgard Telles Ribeiro of Brazil, Jorge Alvarez of Mexico, Carlos Appelgren of Chile, and Javier Leon Olavarria of Peru.

It is presented by Corona, Mexico's #1 beer.

The ambassadors are presenting a film festival with productions from their region in the hope that the event will contribute to the cultural calendar of this city. Latin American films have been seen in NZ in local festivals, with a number of commercial releases, but never before have the films been presented in a structured manner.

Selton Mello and Matheus Nachtergaele in Brazilian comedy The Dog's
Will (O Auto Da Compadecida)

Mother Mary in Brazilian comedy The Dog's Will (O Auto Da Compadecida)

The First Latin American Film Festival features seven diverse films that share a regional identity and deal with different aspects of the same mosaic, from realistic urban or rural conflicts caused by social contrasts and tensions, to comedies satirising ancient customs and modern morals.

The films include a surreal comic take on poverty and religion (THE DOG'S WILL), a contemporary comic smash built around candid talkback conversation (THE SENTIMENTAL TEASER), an Alcatraz-style prison drama based on the 1986 Peruvian riots (ALIAS LA GRINGA), a fantastical farce about hypocrisy and greed (THE DEBT), powerful women's STORIES (REVENGE, MINERVA'S QUEST), and a gritty social tragedy about class war (TO AND FRO).

Full details of all films follow.

Latin American cinema is as old as cinema itself, and the quality and originality of Latin American films have always been acknowledged. Since the 1960s and 70s Latin American features won major awards in all the important film festivals and Academy Awards. More recently, Latin American films are reaching the huge audience in the growing Hispanic population of the USA. Promising new directors are emerging, and their work is capturing the imagination of audiences around the world.

This selection of features will no doubt appeal to the imagination of local film-goers, and increase the growing awareness of Latin America in New Zealand.

And the natural venue for the Festival is the Paramount Theatre, well established as the premiere venue in New Zealand for film festivals.



Thursday 25 April at 11am: The Dog's Will/O Auto Da Compadecida
Friday 26 April at 2pm and 8.30pm: Alias La Gringa (Peru)
Saturday 27 April at 2pm and 8.30pm: The Sentimental Teaser/El
Chacotero Sentimental (Chile)
Sunday 28 April at 2pm and 8.30pm: To And Fro/De Ida Y Vuelta (Mexico)
Monday 29 April at 2pm and 8.30pm: The Debt/ La Deuda (Colombia)
Tuesday 30 April at 2pm and 8.30pm: Revenge/El Desquite (Chile)
Wednesday 1 May at 2pm and 8.30pm: Minerva's Quest/Entre La Tarde Y
La Noche (Mexico)

Censorship certifications are still pending. Refer to newspaper ads, and to

All sessions screen at the Paramount, 25 Courtenay Place, Wellington,
phone (04) 384 4080.
Tickets for the free screening of The Dog's Will at 11am on Thursday 25 April will be available from the Paramount from 9am on Thursday 18 April on a first come, first served basis.

Advance ticket sales for all other films are available from the Embassy Theatre during normal opening hours. Fax credit card bookings to (04) 384 4408, or email to (include credit card number, expiry date, contact name, phone number). On the day of screening, tickets will be available from the Paramount only.



The First Latin American Film Festival will open with a invite-only reception hosted by the Ambassadors at the Embassy Theatre on the night of Wednesday 24 April.



In a further act of generosity, the Ambassadors and DeLuxe Cinemas are providing a one-off FREE screening of the Brazilian film THE DOG'S WILL. This will take place on Anzac Day, Thursday 25 April, at 11.00am. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis from the Paramount box-office at 9.00am on Thursday 18 April.



The Dog's Will (O Auto Da Compadecida)
Brazil, 2000
104 minutes
Director: Guel Arraes
Winner of best film, director, actor and screenplay at the annual Cinema Brazil awards, this comedy takes barbed strikes at the hyprocritical Catholic priesthood, becoming increasingly incredibly strange in the process. When the hunger of handsome dreamer Chico (Selton Mello) and quick-witted liar Jack the Cricket (Matheus Nachtergaele )results in the death of the beloved dog of their boss's wife, it sets in motion a complex web of deceit that unravels in fine style. Filmed in north-eastern Brazil, and paralleling that region in the 1930s with Europe in the Middle Ages, this comic saga of poverty, loyalty, love clerical corruption, military incompetence and infidelity, culminating with a judicial showdown for human souls between the Devil, Jesus, and his mother.

Alias La Gringa
Peru/Spain, 1991
92 minutes
Director: Alberto Durant
La Gringa (Germán Gonzáles) cannot be incarcerated in any jail. After a night of freedom following one escape, he is thrown into a wing of an island prison with a professor who shares the space reluctantly with Marxist terrorists who do their own cooking. With the professor's assistance La Gringa escapes his new prison, then returns in disguise to aid his accomplice. But before they can escape, they are trapped by a riot, and encounter corruption beyond the control of even this charismatic criminal. Loosely based on the experiences of an infamous convict at the island prison of El Fronton (a Peruvian Alcatraz), and the infamous 1986 prison riot, this powerful political drama from award-winning director Alberto "Chicho" Durant plays like Papillon meets The Rock. Winner of the Bogota Film Festival Golden Precolumbian Circle for Best Film, Cinematography, and Actor.

The Sentimental Teaser (El Chacotero Sentimental)
Chile 1999
90 minutes
Director: Cristián Galaz
A box-office smash in Chile and winner of the Audience Award at the Chicago Film Festival, this witty, fast paced and light hearted film is based on a hugely popular talkback radio show with callers who candidly disclose their trials, tribulations and passions to an eccentric young host who dispenses off-beat personal advice. Stories from three callers explore aspects of Chilean culture and society: a student and a publicist conceal their love affair only to end up with an unexpected surprise; a young student discovers a family secret through a childhood game of disguise and spying; and a young woman and her husband cannot find time to be intimate in their apartment crowded with three children and a grandmother.
To And Fro (De Ida Y Vuelta)
Mexico, 2000
90 minutes
Director/writer: Salvador Aguirre
This haunting, intelligent social tragedy about the battle between powerful landlords and migrant workers shows how despair can poison love, friendship and identity. It marks the assured directorial debut of Salvador Aguirre, former directorial assistant to Ridley Scott and Paul Leduc. After working for three years in the USA, young Mexican peasant Filiberto returns to his native village hoping to remake his life and gain the respect he thinks he is due. Things have changed in his absence: his mother is dead, and his ex-girlfriend has married his best friend. Filiberto soon becomes embroiled in a deadly war over water with outlaw landowners, which will threaten his pureness of heart. Winner of the FIPRESCI (foreign press) award for Best Latin American Feature, the International Jury prize for Best Film at the Guadalajara Mexican Film Festival, and the Golden Apple First Works award for Best Film at New York LaCinemaFe.

The Debt (La Deuda)
Colombia, 1997
98 minutes
Directors: Manuel Jose Alvarez and Nicolas Buenaventura
This strange and magnificent farce is set in the little town of El Paraíso (The Paradise). The local usurer, known as Turkish, has been poisoned. His fruitless quest for assistance among his neighbours sees him die in the street. Though his death represents a relief for these neighbours who owe him money, all know they have acted incorrectly. As they search for the killer, try to liquidate their own debts and cover up their hypocrisy, while coping with their consciences, superstition and greed, another death occurs - and Turkish appears to return. The powerful magic realism on show is enhanced by fabulous expressionist cinematography and a dynamic musical score.

Revenge (El Desquite)
Chile 1999
120 minutes
Director: Andrés Wood
This beautifully shot melodrama filled with seduction, passion, rejection and revenge was abridged by Andrés Wood from the TV mini-series that he in turn adapted from a play by well-known Chilean writer Roberto Parra. At the beginning of last century, Anita's family is killed in a terrible flood. Her impoverished godparents send her south to be lady-in-waiting to the wealthy but sickly Lucía and her husband Don Pablo. Lucía dies when Anita is 15, and a relationship develops between the young girl and Don Pablo. When Don Pablo gets Anita pregnant and then begins making designs on her friend, Anita finds a way to settle the score.

Minerva's Quest (Entre La Tarde Y La Noche)
Mexico 1999
107 minutes
Director/writer: Oscar Blancarte
Minerva, a middle-aged writer (Angelica Aragon), is failing at her work and unhappy with her life. She decides to break with the conditions that do not allow her to create the novel that has nested in her mind for years. Consumed with bitterness and anger toward her father and her lover, she sets out in search of her past and its chimeras on a journey to her hometown in Mexico. Paradoxically, on the journey she finds herself and begins to write the story of her life.

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