Diverse, Distinct and Daring: Sydney Latin American Film Festival Announces Program!
From the wonderful and inspiring to the thought-provoking, say hola to the 12th annual Sydney Latin American Film Festival (SLAFF) this September (07-11). Returning to Dendy Opera Quays, the Festival will screen a specially curated program of captivating contemporary Latin American cinema: eight feature films, two documentaries, and seven shorts, along with vibrant opening and closing night parties, over five jam-packed days.
From stories of human resilience, to political turmoil and redemption, the 2017 program focusses on diversity and representation, providing engaging insight into the vast cross-section of Latin American cultures.
“Fifty percent of this year’s program comprises of female directors, and showcases who we are as a whole continent, with representation from Central and South America, and a special Caribbean spotlight. The program highlights the wonderful kaleidoscope that is the Latin world, bringing films from Cuba, Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic to Sydney,” said Festival Programmer Lidia Luna.
The Festival opens with pre-screening drinks and Pablo’s Kitchen empanadas introducing the Australian premiere of On the Roof. The inspirational film follows three young dreamers who share their aspirations together on the rooftops of Havana every day, as they set up their own local business, and learn more about themselves than ever expected.
A spectacular Opening Night Fiesta kicks on after the screening, with Armandito and Trovason bringing their exuberant blend of Cuban rhythms, from Mambo to Rumba to Buena Vista Social Club, to the intimate space of The Basement.
Adriana’s Pact is Lissette Orozco’s extremely personal documentary on her aunt Adriana Rivas, and her involvement with the terrifying secret police of the Chilean Pinochet military dictatorship. Accused of the kidnapping, torture and murder of political opponents, Rivas is currently considered a fugitive by the Chilean Supreme Court and currently resides in Sydney and the NSW government facing mounting community pressure for Rivas’ extradition. The film follows Orozco’s journey as she unearths harsh truths about her beloved aunt.
Bad Influence, the debut feature film from Claudia Huaiquimilla (San Juan, La Noche Más Larga – SLAFF 2013) tackles the issues and struggles of the Indigenous Chilean Mapuche people. An outsider story set in the margins of society, the film follows a troubled petty criminal from Santiago, and a shy outsider from the Indigenous community who band together after the strange death of a Mapuche leader.
Not to be missed is Everything Else, a thought-provoking examination of solitude starring Oscar nominee Adriana Barraza (Babel, Amores Perros) as a reclusive bureaucrat spending her nights watching romance films with her beloved cat Manuelito. When her only companion dies, she is forced to reach out for any kind of human connection.
Elis is a captivating biopic of the life of iconic Brazilian singer Elis Regina. From her humble beginnings, to her rise to the international stage, to her tragic and untimely death, this engaging feature is a must-see for music lovers.
Sambá, nominated for Best International Narrative Feature at Tribeca Film Festival, is a gritty Dominican sports drama following the stoic-faced hero Cisco, who resorts to street fighting for cash after returning home to the Dominican Republic after 15 years in US prison. Teaming up with washed up former pro boxer Nichi, the two set off to fight their way to personal redemption.
Other festival highlights include Koblic, the blood-pumping story of a Navy pilot who must make an agonizing decision upon discovering his aircraft will be used to execute political prisoners; When the Guns Go Silent, a gripping documentary following Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), the world’s oldest guerilla army, as they negotiate peace with the Colombian government after a 50 year struggle; and El Amparo, which follows two fishermen who must fight for their innocence after returning home from a trip in which 14 men were killed by military gunfire.
Closing the festival is Bad Lucky Goat, the hilarious story of two incompatible siblings who accidentally kill a bearded goat with their father’s truck. Set against the lush green backdrop the Colombian Caribbean, the squabbling duo must embark on a journey around the island together, visiting rastafari drum makers, pawn shops, and witch doctors along the way, as they search for a way to hide the accident.
Pre-screening drinks and a special performance by Errol H Renaud, bringing his exotic Caribbean beats spiced with soca, reggae and conscious lyricism, will wrap the Festival for another great year.
Everything Else, Bad Influence, El Amparo, and Sambá will be competing for the Jury Award for Best Feature Film cash prize, presided over by film programmer Paul Struthers, producer Jonathan Page and filmmaker Daz Chandler.
The 12th Sydney Latin American Film Festival will take place at Dendy Opera Quays cinemas from Thursday 7 September – Monday 11 September 2017 and Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre on Sunday 24 September, screening the very best in award-winning Latin American cinema.