For one week only, the Cinecenta is showing films from south of the border, as part of the Latin American & Spanish Film Week.
The seventh annual event is taking over the University of Victoria movie theatre from Sept. 19 to 25, with screenings of dramas and documentaries from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, Peru, Mexico and Spain, devoting each night to a different country.
“The objective is to promote Latin American studies at the university,” said Dan Russek, an associate professor in the department of Hispanic and Italian Studies. “We believe not enough Latin American movies arrive in Victoria. We believe there’s an audience for these films.”
Russek, who teaches Latin American film and serves as the president of the Hispanic Film Society of Victoria, said the film week is a cultural promotion for cinema south of the U.S./Mexico border. While only seven films are shown during the week, he said moviegoers will have an opportunity to see some amazing works by Latin American directors, producers, writers and actors.
“The advantage of bringing a few movies is that they’re really well selected,” he said. “I’m always on the look for new releases and I read reviews, so I have a sense of what’s going on. We try to bring the best of the best.”
This year’s lineup kicks off with Ixcanul, the dramatic debut film by Jayro Bustamante about the clash between traditional and modern lifestyles of Guatemala’s indigenous people. Other highlights include El Club, a Chilean film about former priests secluded from society because of their past sins; Magallanes, a Peruvian drama about a military-aide-turned-taxi-driver who encounters a victim of his ex-superior; and the Oscar-nominated El Clan, based on the true story of Argentina’s Clan Puccio, a middle-class family who kidnapped wealthy people for ransom.
Arguably, the standout of this year’s film week is The Man Who Saw Too Much, a documentary about Mexico City tabloid photographer Enrique Metinides, known for his jarring-yet-astounding images of crime scenes and accidents. The film raises the question of the role of violent imagery in our culture.
“When you hear about photographs of crime scenes, murders, accidents, you don’t usually see beauty or aesthetic value in that, but that’s what’s amazing about these pictures,” said Russek. “Aesthetically, they’re quite interesting, so you have this clash between pain and beauty.
“He’s an artist, even though the subject matter is far from what you would consider palatable.”
In addition to screening the film on Sept. 22, director Trisha Ziff will be on hand for a Q&A after the first showing.
“She manages to do a great job of showing us who this man is and his work,” said Russek. “It adds another dimension to have a director speak about their work.”
The film week is open to the public. The screenings are as follows: Ixcanul (Sept. 19, 7 and 9:10 p.m.), Magallanes (Sept. 20, 7 and 9:10 p.m.), El Club (Sept. 21, 7 and 9 p.m.), The Man Who Saw Too Much (Sept. 22, 7 and 9:15 p.m.), The Second Mother (Sept. 23, 7 and 9:15 p.m.), El Clan (Sept. 24, 7 and 9:10 p.m.) and Truman (Sept. 25, 7 and 9:10 p.m.).
For film synopses, trailers or more information, visit hispfilmvic.ca.