It’s like a red thread of this year’s Locarno Film Festival: Latin America. No wonder because in the next three years the focus of the section “Open Doors” will be exactly this part of the world plus the Caribbean.
After watching «Roza, «Tengo sueños eléctricos», «Medea» and now several short films, I have to say that it is one of the most interesting cinematographic journeys I’ve taken this year. Latin America & the Caribbean has a film industry that is worth focusing on and especially in countries where a film branch is only emerging there are a lot of tough and touching stories to be told. This should be considered a real treasure or goldmine for World Cinema, whereas I feel in the West we are constantly redoing the same repertoire and playing with aesthetic or technical possibilities but often have not much new to tell. At least I get this feeling when I look at the movie theater programs of my region and the many prequels, sequels and franchises.
Starting with «Leaves of K» by Gloria C. Fonseca, a Nicaraguan animation narrating the story of a young woman protesting agains and oppressive regime, losing some friends who were killed by the paramilitary and then being imprisoned and raped before finally getting out of her country, all the short from this program were relevant and deeply moving. I will only write about the three best ones in my opinion.
Another short that I really appreciated was «Techos rotos», broken ceilings, the story of Ana and her sisters growing up in a poor village of the Dominican Republic. Ana’s mother comes home late and doesn’t really take care of her children. Her oldest, Ana becomes a kind of substitute mom to her sisters. She’s about to celebrate her First Communion and wants to buy a white dress for the church ceremony. Her mother says she can’t afford it but the stubborn 12-year-old takes her money whilst she’s asleep and goes to the city center to buy one. We see Ana playing around with other boys and girls from the neighborhood. We see her struggle with being a teenager but at the same time having to act like a responsible adult. When it’s finally time for her First Communion she can’t enjoy it and her big day turns out to be a sad experience for her.
The best of all films in the program in my opinion was the Haitian one: «Agwe» by Samuel Suffren. Full of colours, beautiful nature and landscapes and a nice song sequence this one really has it all. It tells the story of a couple who is expecting a baby. The soon to be father wants to leave Haiti by boat to go to the US. He leaves his pregnant wife behind, who will have to fight for a living alone and wait for her husband to come back – if he comes back at all. The film shows the simple life of the villagers and their poor living conditions earning their money from fishing mostly. Samuel Suffren is a filmmaker you better keep an eye on. There is an aesthetic program in this short that yet has to be unveiled by further works.
If you get a chance to see a film from the section “Open Doors” or any other Latin-American film at the festival you probably won’t be disappointed. Latin America & the Caribbean has stories to tell, films to make and audiences to win.