The 16th annual Latin American Film and Video Festival is already underway and this year, an incredible variety of films are jostling for attention. The festival's title, "Silent Film, Cinema Novo, Contemporary Trends," reflects this year's interest in covering three distinct historical epochs. The program will include agitprop, investigative documentaries, neo-realist dramas and old-fashioned genre standbys like sex comedies, and caper thrillers. They're short, they're long, they're shot on film and video. Most of the films are in Spanish, but others are in English and Portuguese.
Some of the films have a familiar ring, including the festival's opener, Y tu mamá también, which has already been screened. Other theater hits getting a fresh look include Robert Rodriguez's career breakout El Mariachi and the delightful Argentine caper, Nueve Reinas (Nine Queens).
The festival will also feature one of the most successful Brazilian films not called Central Station: Eu, Tu, Eles (Me, You, Them). Andrucha Waddington's film was virtually ignored in the United States despite being a hit at Sundance, but now Triangle moviegoers will have a chance to see this feminist comedy starring one of Brazil's most popular actresses, Regina Case.
Brazil is the focus elsewhere in the program, with the retrospective of Nelson Pereira dos Santos' work. Pereira dos Santos was one of the great masters of Brazil's Cinema Novo movement in the 1960s and '70s, and several of his best films will be screened, including Tenda dos Milagres, Amuleto de Ogum and Vidas Secas. Also to be screened is Masters and Slaves, his recent documentary exploration of Brazil's turbulent history.
The festival began Nov. 3 and will continue through Nov. 19, with screenings on six of North Carolina's college campuses, including UNC, Duke, N.C. State and N.C. Central. For more information about the offerings, schedules and venues, go online to www.unc.edu/depts/ilas/filmfest.html. --David Fellerath