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Latin American film fest marks 13th year

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Latin American film fest marks 13th year

The Peruvian seaside, the rooftop of a Mexican office block and a coffee plantation in 19th century colonial Cuba are among the diverse settings of the 12 movies in this year’s Latin American and Spain Film Festival opening in Palmerston North this Saturday.

Soccer, politics, religion and local traditions are just some of the themes of films spanning drama, romance, thriller, comedy and documentary genres at the festival, now in its 13th year.

Dr Leonel Alvarado, senior lecturer in Spanish Language at Massey’s Manawatū campus, says the festival will showcase “an excellent selection of critically-acclaimed Latin American films”.

“It is next to impossible to catch these movies in commercial cinemas, and that’s why events such as this offer a unique opportunity not to be missed.”

He says the line-up of films demonstrates the complexity and richness of the cultures and people of Latin America and Spain. The festival is also a great opportunity for native speakers and students of Spanish to hear the language spoken in a range of contexts, says Dr Alvarado.

This year’s selection includes Scent of an Oak, a Cuban story of colonialism, slavery and love; Sleep Tight, a celebrated Spanish thriller about secrets, emotions and obsessions; Undertow, a complex Peruvian drama about feelings and the difficulties of fitting into a society; and The Tiger and the Deer, a beautiful Salvadorian documentary about traditions, music and national history.

In The Middle of Heaven, a stressed advertising executive and a cleaner are trapped on the rooftop of their high-rise office for a weekend. And in Chilean comedy drama The Maid, Raquel’s 23-year employment as maid to a wealthy family comes unstuck when they hire another maid to help her.

The selection of films comes from the New Zealand-based embassies of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, México, Peru, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela. Each selects a film from their country to screen for the festival, which is on tour across the country with screenings in Auckland, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wanganui, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

The festival in Palmerston North is a collaborative cultural event between Massey University, the Palmerston North City Library and the embassies.

Cuban Ambassador María del Carmen Herrera Caseiro will be at the opening night screening of Scent of an Oak and will invite the audience to a Cuban cocktail. Chilean Ambassador Isauro Torres Negri will host the closing night screening of The Maid.

The programme as follows:
• Saturday 4 October: Scent of an Oak (Cuba)
• Monday 6 October: The Hidden Face/La Cara Oculta (Colombia)
• Friday 10 October: It’s Not You, It’s Me/No Sos Vos Soy Yo (Argentina)
• Saturday 11 October: Sleep Tight/Mientras Duermes (Spain)
• Monday 13 October: In the Name of the Girl/En el nombre de la hija (Ecuador)
• Friday 17 October: The Tiger and the Deer/El Tigre y El Venado (El Salvador)
• Saturday 18 October: Undertow/Contracorriente (Peru)
• Monday 20 October: Simonal (Brazil)
• Friday 24 October: The Engineer/El Ingeniero(Uruguay)
• Saturday 25 October: In the middle of heaven/ En el ombligo del cielo (Mexico)
• Monday 27 October: Topsy-Turvy/ Patas Arriba (Venezuela)
• Saturday 1 November: The Maid/ La Nana (Chile)

All movies have English subtitles and will screen at 7pm in the Central Library’s Sound & Vision Zone (George Street entrance). Opening Night on Saturday, 4 October, is at 6.30 pm, with entry fee a gold coin donation.

For more information contact the Palmerston North City Library at (06) 3514100, or the School of Humanities, Massey University, at (06) 3569099 ext 81148/ 81143, or at

For information about the films click here.

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