Whatever the Scottish weather, passions are sure to be glowing on screen at the Glasgow Film Theatre as the seventh Latin American Film Festival begins. Alan Morrison previews this year’s attractions.
It may be a city where a merengue is more likely to be mistaken for a sugary cake in a baker's window than a close contact dance, but there‘s a little comer of a cinema screen in Glasgow that will forever be Latin American. Once a year it explodes into life. as the Latin American Film Festival hits the Glasgow Film Theatre, bringing a range of new dramas. comedies and documentaries to Scotland. This year's programme includes work from Bolivia. Mexico. Argentina. Uruguay. the US. Spain and Cuba. giving a sense of both the cultural diversity and shared concerns currently at large in one of the world's most buoyant ﬁlm industries.
Central to this year's Festival is a short, three-ﬁlm tribute to Havana-born ﬁlmmaker Tomas Gutierrez Alea. who died of cancer earlier this year. ‘He‘s probably the outstanding feature ﬁlmmaker in Cuban history.‘ says Mike Gonzalez of Glasgow University‘s Hispanic Studies department. ‘Gutiérrez Alea represents a genuinely independent cinema that arrived in Cuba in the 60s which. at its best, can be funny. insightful and humane. and which completely set aside the values of Hollywood at a time when most of Latin American cinema was powerfully inﬂuenced by Hollywood and commercialism.
‘He belongs to the ﬁrst generation of Latin
iomas Gutierrez Alea's Guantanarnera itlcits oii this year's latln American Flint Festival
American ﬁlmmakers who successfully broke out and began to explore a new form of Latin American cinema that was socially aware and well made. political with a small "p" and not propagandistic. He was part of a period of social change. part of the exploration of what it means to change the world. to change people. to address some of the problems of society. He talks about individuals. but always within a shared consciousness. whereas the Latin American ﬁlmmakers of the 90s seem. on the whole. to be more absorbed with individual experiences.‘
The Alea tribute consists of his ﬁnal ﬁlm. Guantanamera (co-directed with Juan Carlos Tabio). a road movie that satirically stabs at contemporary Cuba‘s political and ﬁnancial crisis by following a funeral car’s trip across the island; Strawberry And Chocolate. the recent Oscar-nominated. international hit that sensitively dealt with one of Cuba's taboo subjects — homosexuality; and Memories Of Underdevelopment. the director‘s ground-breaking l968 movie. shown here in a new print.
‘Memories Of Underdevelopment is based on a novel written in I962 during the Cuban missile crisis. when a man who comes from a wealthy family has to make a decision about whether to leave Cuba or not.‘ explains Gonzalez. ‘lt’s really about that decision and what Cuba has to offer. it‘s not romanticised or
all the contradictions in people.‘
And The Pink Whale. which combines those
‘8 t- is
idealised. it’s actually quite complex. searching for
Other highlights of the l996 Festival include a preview screening of John Sayles‘s richly textured thriller Lone Star. worthy of inclusion given its social backdrop of the tensions between the Mexican majority and white power-holders in a Tex-Mex border town; the sparkling documentary portrait of a rnegastar. Carmen Miranda: Bananas ls M y Business; and the acclaimed Bolivian movie Jonah
distinctively Latin ﬂavours of comedy. romance, melodrama and magic realism.
Also adding to the sense of ﬁesta will be a club event at Maxaluna after the Tuesday l0 screening of Strawberry And C Itocolale, when DJ Jazz mixes up some salsa. rumba and ﬂamenco. while the GFT’s cafe-bar literally gives ﬁlm-goers a taste of the action with an extended tapas menu and set of frozen tequilas.
The seventh Latin American Film Festival begins at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Fri 6 Sept with a screening of Gmtntanamera. preceded by an introductory talk on Tomas Gutierrez Alea by Mike Gonzalez. For individual ﬁlms. see Listings and Index. and for a chance to win tickets. see Competitions. page 92.
Seen any good endings lately? You know the sort - clandestine lovers ilnally go public with their passion and embrace in an open and suitably crowded location to a gushy outpouring iron the attendant orchestra. Or perhaps the death throes oi a hero, whose lips, after endless quivering, are silenced when his fatal gun shot wounds tlnaiiy get the better oi hirn.
Tears and stereotypes all told, Mari: lewis ior one is big on iih endings. A Vance-venous“ artist, he spent
the earlier part oi this year in For the obligatory cernetery scene, Glasgow iindlng appropriate lewis went to Glasgow’s lecropolis, locations ior A Sense 0! The End. A where a line-up oi iigures, windswept short iiirn about iilrn endings, it iorrns and iorlorn, wipe the tears iron their part oi irarnway’s Flint Culture eyes. And tor the vital death scene, season, a celebration oi cinema in its lewis chose a grain warehouse - a centenary year. must oi a location ior any thriller -
A medley oi archetypal closing on the banks oi the Clyde to iih the shots, Lewis’s iiirn does away with bloody last nronents oi a nameless iootage waiile or crucial background goodielbaddio. Bot between the last
25 plot into - depending on your lines and drarnatlc cllwaxes, there’s
g viewpoint - to present ‘the best oi’ in a sense oi the parody. In one briei
g illnr endings. Tagging an appreciative scene a wornan is shown sitting in a
>_ ioreloclt to the litres oi Godard and cute, oii-curera a voice wutters ‘the
“ Welles, it is to iilnr what li-iel is to hero dies at the end'. “What, again?’
é greatest musical hits, as every scene replies the woman with a deilnite
3, is a winner. ‘lhere’s the nraglc train curl to her lip. (Susanna document)
5 station (Glasgow Central) mowent A Sense 0! The End Is screened as
2 when a couple kiss on the concourse, pad of the m- Culture season at
8 after a potential interioper is dragged nanny, Glasgow, Sun 14 Sept-dun A m 0' The End oii by two heavies. 20 Oct.
The List 6- l9 Sept 199619