Films (10)

mr kaplan stillAlvaro Brechner’s second feature length film, Mr. Kaplan, has received international acclaim as well as the honor of representing the nation of Uruguay as best foreign language film in several festivals throughout the world.  Part of the international appeal of Mr Kaplan, aside from its mixture of the profound and the humorous, the tragic and the comic, this film centers on a subject familiar to all, especially in today’s world: memory. 

As the world has seemed since the second World War to be engaged in an unending war that may switch setting from decade to decade, but always focuses around the same issues of fear and insurgency, it has become increasingly difficult for national communities to construct collective historical memories.  Because information and narratives of political conflict saturate our every glance at a television or cell phone screen, notions of exactly what is happening and why become increasingly difficult to grasp as a collective whole.  One community that has been struggling with this process since the second World War are the world’s Jews, many of whom are spread out from places like Israel, to New York to Uruguay and Argentina.  Capturing ninety year old Nazis and extraditing them to Israel has been a common motif for south American Jews for several decades now, and the aged character Jacobo Kaplan seems to represent the tiredness of this common story: despite how important these moments are for members of the Jewish community and anyone else who feels the need to continue the process of international justice, Jacobo Kaplan’s hunt for a suspected ex-Nazi in Uruguay takes on an almost comic, albeit tragic, nature.

Jacobo Kaplan and his younger friend, Contreras, become a duo of amateur detectives that grasp for meaning in their own lives by investigating and tracking an elderly man they suspect of past involvement in heinous crimes.  But does anyone actually still care?  And why are they actually chasing him?  For what end?  We find through these two characters partial answers to these questions, no matter how dry, hilarious or painful they may be. 

 Mr Kaplan is our Showcase Film on Saturday Night, 8 PM - September 19th at the Bank of America Theater.  See you all there!! This is a must-see for all!

climas posterClimas follows the separate stories of three Peruvian women.  Through these three women, three different stages of a woman{s life in Peru are told through the main characters, as well as three different socioeconomic classes and three different regions of Peru.  The young woman is Eva, who is experiencing her first sexual encounters and lives in the “selva” region.  The woman entering the phase of maternity is Victoria, who is from the upper class in the capital city of Lima and has a terrible secret of her own.  Finally we have the story of Zoraida, an elderly woman from the Andean region who receives an unexpected visit from her son.

Climas is directed by Enrica Perez, a Lima native who has made a great impact in the Peruvian film scene with this film, her feature length debut.  Perez has explained in interviews that one of the driving inspirations and underlying themes of this film, which she has worked on for the past eight years, was the idea that living in different climates have an amazing impact on the way we live and experience our lives and the lives of others.  We often talk about economic and social divisions, but we don’t talk as much about climate divisions.  For this reason, the climate and natural environment of each of the three main geographical settings – the selva, the city and the Andes – plays a large role in the narrative of each of the three characters who live there.  

Join us for this expansive and evocative drama, three stories in one nation.  Our Showcase Film screening is on Saturday evening, September 19th at 6PM @ The Bank of America Theater.  See you all there! 

3-BELLEZAS RP3 Bellezas

Saturday, 19 de Septiembre

4 PM

National Hispanic Cultural Center, Bank of America Theater

Director: Carlos Caridad Montero

Carlos Caridad Montero’s highly acclaimed feature film debut 3 bellezas (“3 Beauties”) is here at CineMagnifico. 3 Bellezas is a black comedy about two Venezuelan national obsessions: beauty queens and plastic surgery. Although this may seem to solidify an already dangerous stereotype about Venezuelan society, director Caridad Montero has a skill for expressing what is known to be real, everyday life experience in his country, while also leveling a social critique through his film.

Perla, played by Diana Peñalver, is a former beauty queen who dreams, or more than dreams, about seeing her young daughter, Carolina, become a beauty queen like her mother. And Perla will do almost anything to see this happen, including damaging her relationship with her own family. With help from her sister, Estefania, Perla forces her daughters to endlessly practice the catwalk, teaches them how to diet and how to wear swimsuits and gowns the proper way. Through all of this hilarious dark humor, Caridad Montero manages to expose a cultural obsession with beauty familiar to most Venezuelans and to those living in many other nations, including our own. Certainly, this theme is not totally foreign to United States society, and calls to mind the iconic stereotype of beauty and culture in southern California.    

Through his first several short films that made a splash in international festival circuits, Caridad Montero has gained the attention of the public and academic critics alike, a gap between styles of spectatorship that is often difficult to bridge. This speaks to the Maracaibo native’s ability and unique capacity to express in realistic terms the everyday life in popular Venezuelan society while simultaneously satisfying the academic desire to see a dynamic critique of this very same society that is being portrayed. Caridad Montero, before even delving into feature length films, has seemed to quickly master the art of making films that carry weighty social critiques, but only to the viewers that want to see them – for anyone else, it could seem like a movie that simply ‘expresses the reality’ of a life in Venezuela. In this way, Caridad Montero, with the release of his first feature length film, has quickly become one of Venezuela’s most important directors.

Perhaps one of the most important notes about Caridad Montero’s young career is that he studied film at the film school in San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba. It is evident in his work that when he returned to his home country of Venezuela after graduation, he not only was returning with a new tool belt of film technique, but also a new perspective on his own nation after having experienced life on the Caribbean island to the north.

la isla minima posterLa Isla Mínima (The Marshland)

Directed by Alberto Rodríguez

Showing at the Guild Cinema on Saturday, September  19th at 5PM


La isla mínima won thirteen prizes at Spain’s Goya Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Score and Best Screenplay.

Director Alberto Rodríguez takes us to the territory of his home, where he was born and raised: Andalucía – the deep south of Spain. He takes us there for a mysterious thriller that takes place in 1980. Two detectives with different opinions on how to treat their work unite to investigate the murder of two young women in town. The texture of the film along with the small town mystery and the southern landscape is reminiscent of the first season of True Detective. The artistic aesthetic of the frames were inspired by the photography of Atín Aya. Not only does this film thrill, but it connects to history and politics.

One of the detectives is older than the other, and his style is stuck in the days of Franco’s brutal regime, which is now supposedly finished, although so many of its remnants hang linger above the rural roadways fo the town like gossip and dust in the heat. One of the directors stated linkages with the Franco regime is the state’s poor treatment of women and misogyny that prevailed during the Franco era, but is by no means gone from the culture. As the two detectives, from two distinct epochs of Spain’s recent history, attack the truth of the crimes against these young women, truths about the nature of the community also come to light.

One of Spain’s most celebrated films in recent memory and one that has had a strong reception here in the US, La isla minima is not a film you should miss. Showing at the Guild Cinema on Saturday, September  19th at 5PM. See you all there!!

messi-filmSaturday, September 19

National Hispanic Cultural Center, Bank of America Theatre

2:00 PM


Country: Spain

Director: Alex de la Iglesia

Release Date: 2015

Language: Spanish with English subtitles

The film dramatizes Lionel Messi's early life, combined with documentary footage and interviews with some of the most famous men in recent soccer history. Included in this group are Dutch legend (and former Barcelona player and manager) Johan Cruyff and World Cup-winning Argentine manager César Luis Menotti. Also featured are some of Messi's current teammates, including Andrés Iniesta and Gerard Piqué. Beautiful personal revelations are not omitted; whenever Messi scores and stares skyward with his fingers pointing to the heavens, it is his grandmother to whom he is beckoning—she is still the one to whom he dedicates all his goals.

Alex de la Iglesia has directed this feature length documentary about one of the world’s most recognizable names, and most of the most undeniably dominant players in all of modern sports: Lionel Messi. The film, which documents Messi’s childhood and coming of age, displays the struggles that Messi encountered along the way to be being recognized as a prodigy and an absolute phenomenon. One of the largest obstacles Messi encountered was uncontrollable: his body size. Messi was incredibly short and undersized and because of this he was overlooked by scouts and recruiters. It took the foresight of specific mentors and coaches to see the gem that lay hidden in the rough of Messi’s unorthodox body type. One of the main reasons Alex de la Iglesia was drawn to this project was the message that it holds not just for children, but anyone who is pursuing a dream. Along the way, your disadvantages and weaknesses will be highlighted and revealed, and you may even be told by those closest to you that this dream is not for you. Especially in today’s highly competitive world, this message holds resonance for almost anyone, particularly as they see the unimaginable, colossal place that Messi has gained in international football. And imagine, as a child he was told he was too small to play… he who became the world’s best footballer.

Alex de la Iglesia directed the popular Hollywood movie The Oxford Murders, starring Elijah Wood in 2008. Messi was nominated for an award at the Venice Film Festival. Messi was produced with support and partnership from FIFA, F.C. Barcelona and Messi’s family.

Screening Saturday, September 19th @ 2PM in the Bank of America Theater. See you all there!!!  

7:00 PM  




Genre: Drama

Director: Ernesto Daranas

Language: Spanish with English subtitles

Q&A with director Ernesto Daranas after the film


“The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts” (C.S. LEWIS)

Chala is eleven years old and lives alone with his drug addict mother. He trains fighting dogs for a living, and this world of violence sometimes surfaces when he is at school. Carmela is his sixth grade teacher, for whom the boy feels affection and respect. One day she becomes ill and must give up the school for several months. The relationship between the veteran teacher and the boy grows stronger, but this mutual commitment may put in jeopardy their ability to continue at the school.

Written and directed by Ernesto Daranas, a Cuban director only slightly known before this film for his previous feature-length work, “Fallen Gods”, Conducta is in many ways an homage to the teacher as a pillar of society. In “Fallen Gods”, Daranas dealt with stories of prostitution in Havana, including the history the ‘oldest profession’ in the streets of Cuba’s capital city. It seems Daranas has a recurring interest in focusing on and paying tribute to professions that go overlooked or underrepresented by society, or perhaps by other filmmakers. Daranas is also a member of the generation of Cuban filmmakers who are experiencing a vast opening of censorship. Similar to Spanish directors after Franco, Cuban filmmakers are able to produce works today that would not have been possible even several years ago.

Although Conducta deals with the school as an institution of government, Daranas does not leave us inside the classroom. In fact, much of the film takes place outside of the school building, on the streets, and in the homes of students and teachers. This creates a sensation of the school as an educational institution which is actually not as rigid as the walls of the building – the process of education goes well beyond the classroom, into the streets and the home. This also places the character of the teacher as a mediator between the government and the student. In this case, the teacher, Carmela (played by Alina Rodríguez) intervenes in the government’s attempt to control the lives of her students, in particular a student named Chala (played by Armando Valdes Freire).

Conducta has won prizes at The Havana Film Festival, The Goya Awards, Malaga Film Festival and many others.  It is regarded as one of the best film's to come out of Cuba in 2014.  Conducta will play at the Bank of America Theater in the National Hispanic Cultural Center on Friday, September 18th. This is our Opening Night Film, and director/writer Ernesto Daranas will be in attendance, including a question & answer session following the film. This is an amazing film and an amazing opportunity for the community to meet and speak with one of Cuba’s dynamic young filmmakers. See you all there!!

A scene from "Espiritu de la memoria"Guatemala: El espíritu de la memoría (2014): directed by Natalia Díaz


Friday, September 18th

UNM College of Fine Arts, Room 2018


11 AM

Guatemala, el Espíritu de la Memoria

Country: Spain/Guatemala

Genre: Documentary

Runtime: 65 min.

Director: Natalia Díaz

Release Date: 2014

Language: Spanish with English subtitles


Guatemala: El espíritu de la memoría (“The Spirit of Memory”), directed by Natalia Díaz, is a documentary that follows two religious leaders as they accompany indigenous communities on the road to resistance, redemption and the rebuilding of collective memory. These two longtime community activists, Catholic priest Rafael Delgado and Lutheran minister José Pilar Cabrera, serve as a guide for us as viewers as we delve into the details of the tremendously complex and persisting issues that face the indigenous communities of today’s Guatemala, issues that include international corporate interest in the exploitation of the nation’s rich resources such as gold and water.   Much of these resources reside in the land of indigenous communities, whose land rights have been threatened by outside business interests for centuries, but especially during the modern age.

For 36 years, Guatemala was embroiled in a civil war (1960-1996) between the national government and guerilla forces. This conflict resulted in the genocide of hundreds of thousands of indigenous Guatemalans. Often people would simply “disappear” and massacres went unpunished. The 1996 peace accord which officially ended the war on paper did not change everything on a day to day basis; general impunity regarding systematic violence, terror and oppression continues to this day.  

In addition to getting the rare chance to learn from the inside about the work of activists such as Delgado and Pilar, director Natalia Díaz also brings us in this documentary the testimony of Amelia Martínez, a 76-year old human rights activist from Spain. In 1996, Amelia began to collaborate with a Guatemala-based human rights project called REMHI (Recuperation of Historical Memory), a project that was promoted in large part by the Office of the Archbishop of Guatemala. In 1998, the major religious and social leader behind this project, Bishop Juan Gerardi, was assassinated by a group of attackers linked to the National Military of Guatemala.

This assassination seriously shook the nation, especially those indigenous communities who had only recently started to heal and rest hope in such projects, and it served as a reminder that, despite the peace accords, this was no time to feel safe in resistance or activism. In a showing of solidarity, 76-year-old Amelia traveled to Guatemala in 2013 for a memorial service held in honor of Bishop Gerardi, and the director Natalia Díaz followed along with her camera. That was the beginning of the making of this film. Through Amelia and her network of tireless and fearless activists, we meet Father Delgado, Pastor Pilar, as well as many members of the communities with whom they work alongside to rebuild elements of collective and historical memory.

On the film’s official website, director Natalia Díaz explains that there was a common experience amongst all of the activists she met who had spent time working alongside indigenous communities in Guatemala, an experience which served as a major foundation for the ideas behind this documentary. Everyone who has worked with and struggled with the construction of historical memory in Guatemala in the post-Civil War era has been awestricken by the brutal juxtaposition between the beautiful country advertised as a tourist destination and the brutally violent and genocidal regimes that have torn apart so much of the nation in recent history. She mentions that often Guatemala is for foreigners made to seem a place “of eternal spring”, with mountains and lakes and always the picturesque indigenous peoples with their handicrafts and idealized way of life. However, this depiction of Guatemala could not be farther from the truth, and most terrifying is the prospect of us foreigners continuing into our “eternal spring” without truly understanding what has happened in Guatemala and what the stakes are for the people there today.

This is perhaps even more, or at least equally as terrifying as the prospect of Guatemalans themselves not being able to construct enduring collective memories of their own history, due to violence, intimidation, fear, terror, poverty, or whatever else. The director goes on to say: “We have asked ourselves: What can we do from the comfort of our own homes and our safe, stable lives to at least chip away at this enormous wall of unknown information and unheard stories?” The director concedes that there is no one easy answer, but, perhaps, being able to view a documentary is a start. “Our tools are humble, we are far apart, and the media does not talk about us much. But we know that an image is what makes us believe something; we know that a voice and a word can stay recorded in our minds forever. And we hope that this effort can at least plant a small seed.”

We look forward to seeing you all there for the screening of this incredible and moving piece of documentary film from Guatemala. Thank you all and see you there!!   

diamantes negros destacadoDiamantes Negros, a docudrama that follows two aspiring amateur footballers from Mali as they pursue their dreams to be famous players in the professional European football leagues. Amadou and Moussa, motivated by their desire to make their fathers proud and buy their mothers a brand new house that lacks nothing, realize that their opportunity has arrived when two professional agents offer them a contact to travel to Spain and play for a football club. Once they arrive, however, they find themselves in a nightmarishly unknown world, where people aren’t always as friendly as one might hope, particularly in the cutthroat, corrupted and greedy world of professional football.

Director Miguel Alcantud, a native of Cartagena, Spain, has a penchant for documenting competitive worlds that don’t always rise to the surface for all spectators. Alcantud’s 2007 Anastezsi documented the brutally competitive underground of Europe’s best youth violinists. Here again, we are treated to an eye-opening exposé of youth, talent and the pursuit of dreams in Europe’s most elite echelons of entertainment. The exploitation of youth, particularly the manipulation of their most precious dreams, is at the heart of Diamantes Negros.

Eventually, when Amadou and Moussa’s footballing futures become less promising, we follow them to the streets as they pursue life’s other treasures: happiness, friendship and travel. All the while, Alcantud maintains a realistic eye, and does not reach for Hollywood happiness; rather, he lets his camera show the story, the good and the bad, the victories and defeats. Diamantes Negros is like taking a big drink of pure life, and everything that comes with it.


Spanish/Portuguese production, a docudrama directed by Miguel Alcantud, traces the journey of two young boys from Mali across Spain, Portugal, and northern Europe-an odyssey of deceptions and abuses-after they are persuaded to pursue their dream of becoming professional soccer players. Revealing the sordid underground of Europe's most popular sport, the film received the Audience Award (Premio del Público) at the Málaga Spanish Film Festival. 98 minutes; not rated.

“My Straight Son” (“Azul y no tan rosa”) is the Venezuelan actor/writer/director Miguel Ferrari’s first major feature length film, and his ‘opera prima’ that deals with social intolerance against homosexuality won him recognition from around the world, as well as the prize for Best Iberian-American Film at the Goya Awards, Spain’s equivalent to the American Academy Awards.  Aside from superb acting, writing and music, the story’s main attack on the ridiculousness of homophobia and its sincere portrayal of family is what brought this Venezuelan film across the borders with such success. ferrari goya

Ferrari stated in an interview with the Spanish film review "El Antepenultimo Mohicano" that in his home country of Venezuela there has always been a ridged taboo against homosexuality, and the few times homosexual characters have actually been presented in Venezuelen cinema, they have been portrayed “through a burlesque and disrespectful perspective”.  He added that television and cinema, despite having the power to change social paradigms, is as responsible as any other field of media production for the distorted representation of LGBTI characters and topics that have been disseminated to the public, and above all to the youth. 

Ferrari, who left Venezuela to study cinema production in Spain and subsequently returned to produce films in his home country, acknowledged the great risks involved in undertaking a project like “My Straight Son”; despite the good social intentions of the script, if carried out improperly a film such as this can actually run the risk of offending viewers even within the LGBTI community. 


 However, that has clearly not been the case with this film, which has moved viewers towards the ideal of social openness and understanding in audiences throughout the world.  Most importantly, the film has made a great impact in Ferrari’s home country of Venezuela, where the subject of homosexuality has been particularly ignored, even in comparison to other Latin American countries that maintain a similar streak of social conservatism and homophobia within their societies.  In the last decade, a couple of important films containing LGBTI subjects came from joint projects involving Argentine, Uruguay and Spain, from the writer/director Lucia Puenzo, a Buenos Aires native. 

 To see those films, check out “XXY” and “The Fish Child” (“El niño pez”).  In addition, the theme of social intolerance is not only confined to topics of sexuality; in fact, “Bad Hair” (“Pelo malo”) will be showing on Sunday at Cine Magnifico, a film that involves filmmakers in Argentina, Venezuela and Peru, deals with similar social pressures that arise from homophobia and engrained class distinctions. 

Clearly there is a tide of films with intense messages and depictions of social issues that are often overlooked, left under the table in the proverbial dining room of Latin American culture and society.  Look no further than our film lineup this year at Cine Magnifico, not only including “My Straight Son” and “Bad Hair”, but also “The Golden Dream”, which deals sincerely with intense social pressures and culturally ignored subjects.  

“My Straight Son” will be a moving and enlightening film screening, not only for Miguel Ferrari’s prize-winning script and cinematic direction, but also for the way this film fits into the rising trends of Latin American cinema over the course of the last two years.  “My Straight Son” will be our Showcase Film on Saturday night, September 12th @ 8 PM.  See you there for a wonderful showcase presentation!!            

Although “The Golden Dream” (“La jaula del oro”) is writer-director Diego Quemada-Diez’s first feature-length film, it is not his first time working with themes and images of Mexico-U.S. immigration.  

Director Quemada-Diez working on the set of "The Golden Dream"

The Spanish native who is now based out of Mexico City was a camera operator in the 2003 hit film “21 Grams”, directed and written by the renowned duo of Mexico City natives, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu and Guillermo Arriaga. 

The three main characters in "The Golden Dream"


“21 Grams” is a masterfully designed tale set in various locations throughout the world, one of which includes a woman and two children lost in the desert borderlands between Mexico and the U.S.  In “The Golden Dream”, Quemada-Diez draws on the quiet, austere landscapes of the rural areas in Mexico that attract the many north-bound migrants seeking to keep themselves from the eyes of the public as they make their way to the border.

One of Quemada-Diez’s major achievements in this film is his ability to elicit magnificent performances out of three non-professional actors.  Quemada-Diez’s “The Golden Dream” which began production in 2013 and was released in Mexico in May of this year, could not have come to the U.S. market at a better time, as the issue of Central American children illegally crossing the border has come to occupy a central storyline for mainstream media outlets since the summer.  “The Golden Dream” follows three main characters, teenagers from a village in Guatemala. 

Quemada-Diez on set with young actors

In the end, it is that rawness which renders this film a sincere and not sensationalized portrayal of the journey north. 

“The Golden Dream”, which won awards at Cannes, 

Quemada-Diez and his young cast at awards show

Chicago and Palm Springs, among others, was touted for its honest and direct approach to the portrayal of the heart wrenching and vicious truths of this journey, which has come to occupy a part of the American Dream imaginary, often distorted and simplified, if for no other reason than its perceived commonality or an overall cultural laziness to delve deeply into the truths and realities of those making the journey north every day. 

Scene from "The Golden Dream"

Working on “21 Grams” with Iñarritu and Arriaga, who together are responsible for the films “Amores Perros” and “Babel” in addition to “21 Grams” (that’s 3 Oscar nominations and 1 win), Quemada-Diez could not have been afforded a better learning opportunity for dealing with scenes and images of border crossings – it would be akin to a minor league ballplayer for the Albuquerque Isotopes getting the chance to sit in the dugout with Dodgers all-stars Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw.

This Showcase Film screening is a must see not just for film aficionados, but for everyone in our border-state community interested in truth, sincerity and the ultimate beauty, and irony, of youth and dreams.  Don’t miss it!!

Screening Saturday, September 13th @4:30 PM.  See you there!!