Monday, October 15, 2007

And the winners are.....

The following is the complete list of winners for the 11th Annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival:

Features CATEGORY:
Best Film - Rita Award
Winner: El Corazón de la Tierra
Director: Antonio Cuadri
Country: Spain / Portugal / UK

Best Screenplay
Winner: Madrigal
Director: Fernando Pérez
Screenwriters: Fernando Pérez, Eduardo del Llano, Susana María
Country: Cuba/Spain

Best Director
Winner: El Cobrador (In God we Trust)
Director: Paul Leduc
Country: Mexico

Winner: Ladrones
Director: Jaime Marques Olarreaga
Country: Spain

Special Jury Award: Opera Prima
Malos Hábitos (Bad Habits)
Director: Simón Bross
Country: Mexico

Special Jury Award: Opera Prima
La León
Director: Santiago Otheguy
Country: Argentina

Best Documentary
Winner: Invisibles
Directors: Fernando León de Aranoa, Javier Corcuera, Mariano Barroso, Wim Wenders, Isabel Coixet.
Country: Spain

Special Mention:Documentaries
Estrellas (Stars)
Directors: Federico León and Marcos Martínez
Country: Argentina

Special Mention: Documentaries
Directors: Elizabeth Massie, Mathew Buzzell
Country: USA

Best Short:
Winner: The Grass Grows Green: Life and Death From Behind the Recruiting Office Desk
Director: Jesús Beltrán
Country: USA

Special Mention: Shorts
Juanito Bajo el Naranjo (Juanito Under The Orange Tree)
Director: Juan Carlos VillamizarCountry: Colombia

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Los Angeles Latino Film Festival Recap

It's been a somewhat frustrating week. We had high hopes for this year's Los Angeles Latino Film Festival since this was the first year at the Arclight in Hollywood. A beautiful space, top notch screens--a wonderful venue to discover new films in the middle of Hollywood. While there were emails each day relating the days events (a vast new improvement), it was impossible to find out what the repeat screenings would be and which films had been canceled. Posting this on the web site would have been nice--this is basic stuff. Putting on a film festival is hard work and takes a cadre of staff and volunteers who are running around for a week putting out fires and getting very little sleep. The trick is making it seamless and LALIFF is still not there. Even the procedure to pick up tickets changed mid-week, making in harder to get in to see desired screenings.

Los Angeles absolutely deserves and must have a top notch Latino Film Festival in 2007. The explosion of films from Latin America, the U.S. and Spain means there is no lack of films. And there is competition: for years AFI and the Los Angeles Film Festival have bolstered their Latino selections and what they feature is what should be at LALIFF in terms of quality and diversity.

In the end though, it's about the movies, and the week at Arclight did provide a chance to catch something engaging that might not end up on a screen somewhere near you sometime soon.

La Edad de la Peseta- a fantastic way to end the festival

On Sunday, the last day of LALIFF, I was in the mood for a feature film and the day was chock full of documentaries. I took a chance with La Edad de la Peseta (The Silly Age), a Spanish/Cuban production directed by Pavel Giroud.

Giroud's film is a bittersweet coming-of-age tale set in Havana in 1958 on the eve of the Cuban Revolution. Samuel and his somewhat slutty mother, on the heels of yet another divorce, end up not entirely welcome his grandmother Violeta's well to do home in Havana. While his mother looks for work and men, Samuel finds himself on the frustrating cusp of his teenage years as he navigates his own sexuality and love. His anachronistic relationshop with his grandmother, a sometime "blue" photographer changes over time.

Beautifully shot in vibrant colors, La Edad de la Peseta has a Sirkian quality to it mixed with deep, modern sarcasm.