34th Annual Latin American Film Series, 2012

Presented by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, UWM Union Programming, Union Theatre and The Department of Film.

April 13-20, 2012

UWM Union Theatre

All films will be shown in their original language with English subtitles. Films are not rated; many include adult content. For more information please call the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at (414) 229-5986.

If you just can’t wait for LAFS Opening Night . . .

Wednesday, April 11

Share the Earth Environmental Film Series
Land (Tierra), A new film by Julian T. Pinder
7pm, UWM Union Theatre
The southern Pacific coast of Nicaragua. American developers charge on, transforming jungle and beach into resorts, hotels and gated communities. Unexpectedly, the former revolutionaries sweep back into power and re-claim the country. This modern day wild west erupts into a battle between former revolutionaries, angry locals, and foreign developers over the land beneath their feet. But progress marches on . . . Or does it?

Cosponsored by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies

Thursday, April 12

Event organized by Marquette University in conjunction with the Latin American Film Series
The Cuban Game (El juego de Cuba), Directed by Manuel Martín Cuenca
Marquette University, Cudahy Hall 001

6:30 pm – Panel discussion on the politics of baseball

Panel participants:
Larry Baldassaro (UW-Milwaukee)
Raúl Galván (Milwaukee Public Television)
J. Gordon Hylton (Marquette University Law School)
Armando González Pérez (Marquette University)

7:30 pm – Documentary screening
9:05 pm – Talk back with the director
Full program information, PDF download

In 1999, a Cuban All-Stars baseball team played home and away games against the Baltimore Orioles – the first such encounter between the US and Cuba in more than 30 years. The games were welcomed by some as a politically motivated gesture of reconciliation, but dismissed by others as a cynical attempt by the Orioles to gain leverage on Cuba’s immense pool of talent. This emotive and skillful documentary traces the history of baseball in Cuba and speaks to the political sentiment involved in the sport. Co-organized by the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

LAFS Opening Night

Friday, April 13

Norberto’s Deadline (Norberto apenas tarde)
Uruguay, 85 min – 35mm – Directed by Daniel Hendler
For the 30-something Norberto, life does not seem to live up to all that he has expected. No longer content with his job or his marital arrangements, he attempts to immerse himself in an entirely different lifestyle. Watch as Norberto improvises his way through this change by taking acting workshops for beginners to improve his confidence and tries to fit in with the younger crowd that he meets there. This is a hilarious story of what happens when we are not honest with ourselves and those we love.

Saturday, April 14

Nostalgia for the Light (Nostalgia de la luz)
Chile, 2011, 90 min – DVD – Directed by Patricio Guzmán
The Atacama Desert of Northern Chile is best known as a paradise for astronomers and stargazers. Its landscape is ideal for sky viewing due to its high altitude, dry air and lack of light pollution. However, not often mentioned is the truth that the Pinochet dictatorship discarded many of its deceased political prisoners in the same territory. This is the latest installment of the critical documentaries produced by the famed director, Patricio Guzmán. With an interdisciplinary scope that covers many different fields of thought, Nostalgia for the Light gives us a snapshot of the dynamic nature of the Atacama as well as its historical atrocities.
Nostalgia for the Light trailer

Saturday, April 14

Co-presented by UWM Film Studies
Juan of the Dead (Juan de los muertos)
Cuba, 2011, 100 min – 35mm – Directed by Alejandro Brugués
Attention: horror film buffs and zombie movie freaks; make sure not to miss Juan of the Dead! Watch as the protagonists, Juan – an unemployed outcast – and his close friends, form a zombie killing business in Havana amidst a chaotic modern day coup d’etat led by the living dead. Brugués’ film is breaking new ground in Cuban cinema and is the country’s first full-fledged zombie thriller. Interestingly, the result is not simply a replica of other Western gore movies. Do not get us wrong, Juan of the Dead is extremely gruesome, and yet, it also features subtle Cuban idiosyncrasies, many political commentaries on U.S.- Cuba relations, and a critique of the 1959 revolution.

Sunday, April 15

The Good Herbs (Las buenas hierbas)
Mexico, 2010, 117 min – DVD – Directed by María Novaro
Since pre-Columbian times, the use of medicinal plants to heal the body and the soul has been a long standing tradition in Mexico, and Lala knows this very well. Unfortunately, they have never been of great interest to her hippie daughter, Dahlia, a young single mom who is trying to raise her small son on her own. This is a story woven with elements of humor and magical realism, motifs of plants and herbs, and words that come to life, but most of all, it is a dramatic portrayal of resilience and the power of love. It is a story about the strength of the independent grandmother, Lala, who is forced to come to terms with the fact that she is slipping away as her Alzheimer’s progresses and the need to pass along her knowledge to a daughter who is desperately trying to save her.

Sunday, April 15

Chinese Take-Away (Un cuento chino)
Argentina, 2011, 93 min – Directed by Sebastián Borensztein
In Buenos Aires, the bitter and methodic Roberto (Ricardo Darín) is a lonely man and the owner of a hardware store. Roberto collects bizarre worldwide news in an album as a hobby and his acquaintance Mari has an unrequited love for him, but Roberto is always evasive. One day, Roberto sees a Chinese named Jun being expelled from a taxi while he is watching the landing of airplanes in the airport and he helps the man to stand up. Jun does not speak Spanish and shows a tattoo with an address on his arm. Roberto heads to the spot with Jun and discover that the place belonged to Jun’s uncle that sold it three and half years ago. Roberto goes with Jun to the police station, to the China’s embassy and to a Chinese neighborhood to seek out his uncle but it is a fruitless search. Roberto lodges Jun in his house and after a series of incidents, he finds a delivery boy to translate Jun and he learns the dramatic story of his life.
Un Cuento Chino trailer

LAFS 2011 Audience Favorite

Monday, April 16

The Gift of Pachamama(El regalo de la Pachamama)
Bolivia, Japan, 2008, 102 min – DVD – Directed by Toshifumi Matsushita
On Bolivia’s inland salt sea (the Salar de Uyuni), 13-year-old Kunturi and his family cut bricks of salt by hand, which they use to barter for goods. It is not an easy life, but still rich with friends and family. When Kunturi’s grandmother falls ill, his father decides to take his son on the almost four-month journey along the salt trail (the Ruta de la Sal) to see her. Their first stop is the Potosí mine to find a friend’s long-absent father and the last stop is the famous Bolivian Tinku festival. As tragedy and joy commingle, Kunturi is forced to confront the complexities of adult life, including death, suffering, and his first love – the most powerful of all.

Tuesday, April 17

Karen Cries on the Bus (Karen llora en un bus)
Colombia, 2011, 98 min – 35mm – Directed by Gabriel Rojas Vera
Karen is a woman in her thirties who realizes that she has spent the last ten years of her life in a loveless marriage, so she decides to walk away from it to finally seek an identity of her own. With her savings, she rents a tiny apartment in the center of Bogotá, but she has no friends, no job and no money and she soon begins to run into some obstacles. With few job prospects, having no prior work experience and considered too old for some positions — soon Karen feels lost and she begins resorting to everything from stealing apples from fruit stalls to begging for change at bus stops. This is an endearing tale of finding freedom, facing the challenges that come along with it, and starting over.

In collaboration with the Chicago Latino Film Festival

Wednesday, April 18

Day of Black (Dia de preto)
Brazil, 2011, 90 min – Blu-ray – Directed by Marcos Felipe, Daniel Mattos, and Marcial Renato
Set in Brazil during both the seventeenth century and the modern era, this film explores two narratives that highlight the continuing struggles for freedom faced by Brazilians of African descent. Dia de preto begins with the story of the first black slave to be freed in Brazil. The plot then shifts to portray a contemporary allegory in which the black man is the driver for a wealthy family. Involved with the daughter of his boss and the theft of a sacred relic, he spends a crazy night in a mall facing a series of bizarre characters. After a journey of life and death, our hero learns that there are times when the night is dreadful, and some stories never end.

Thursday, April 19

Granito: How to Nail a Dictator
U.S., Guatemala, 2011, 103 min – DVD – Directed by Pamela Yates
Sometimes films make history; they do not just document it. Such is the case with Granito, the astonishing new film by Pamela Yates. The documentary follows the process by which Yates and her team attempt to use the 1983 film When the Mountains Tremble as evidence to prosecute Guatemalan leaders for genocide within the international justice system. Part political thriller, part memoir, Yates transports us back in time through a riveting, haunting tale of impunity and she returns to the present with a cast of characters joined by destiny and the quest to bring a malevolent dictator to justice. The characters become integral to the overarching narrative – of wrongs done and fairness sought – that they have pieced together, each adding their granito, their tiny grain of sand, to the epic tale.
Movie Trailer

LAFS Closing Night

Friday, April 20

Shores (Orillas)
Argentina, Benin, 2011, 96 min – 35mm – Directed by Pablo César
Shantas is a young delinquent living in the shantytowns of the outskirts of Buenos Aires. He has just professed to the Orishá religion and he survives the streets with two weapons: a gun and the conviction that he is an immortal being. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Benin, West Africa, the young Babárímisá’s heart is failing and his mother, in one last desperate attempt to save his life, turns to a priestess to perform rituals and sacrifices that will restore his link to the Orishá gods. Orillas is an account of two boys, two continents, one religion, and a ritual that will bring their lives and the shores of these two continents together once again.

The series is co-sponsored by UWM Union Sociocultural Programming, the Center for International Education, the Women’s Studies Program, the Urban Studies Program, the Office of Diversity and Climate, the Departments of Africology, Art History, Film, Film Studies, History, MALLT, the Latin American and Caribbean Studies Certificate Program, and the major in Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies (LACUSL). Programming by Aaron Bethke-Shoemaker and Marisela Chávez-Narváez. In collaboration with the Chicago Latino Film Festival.