OPENING NIGHT FILM
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!!
Guatemala: El espíritu de la memoría (2014): directed by Natalia Díaz
Friday, September 18th
UNM College of Fine Arts, Room 2018
Guatemala, el Espíritu de la Memoria
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!!
¡CineMagnífico! Albuquerque’s Latino Film Festival is exactly one month away from the opening night of its 3rd annual festival. We are extremely excited this year, with a fantastic lineup of films, new local artists to showcase, and fabulous events for the family and the entire community. Those who have attended in past years will remember the beautiful grounds of the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the gorgeous Bank of America Theater. Join us for a beautiful evening on Friday, September 18th for our opening night presentation, the New Mexico debut of Conducta, an exquisite drama that the Havana Times has recently called a serene and sincere portrait of life in the Cuban capital. This is the second feature film for director Ernesto Daranas Serrano, a highly acclaimed and dynamic, young artist in the Cuban film world. Director Daranas will be attending ¡CineMagnífico! For the state debut of his film on Friday the 18th.
We have a full day Saturday, September 19th, with multiple films showing at two theaters: the Bank of America Theater at the NHCC and the Guild Cinema in Nob Hill! At the Bank of America Theater we will be showing three films during the morning and afternoon, including Messi, a film from Spain about the iconic Argentinian star-player for Barcelona’s legendary football club, and a documentary for the family, Abrazos, which will be followed by a Q&A session with the director. In addition, we will be showing three films at the Guild Cinema in Nob Hill, including the incredible, must-see Spanish blockbuster La isla minima about a mysterious murder in the 1980s in the Spanish ‘deep south’. La isla minima plays at 5PM at the Guild Cinema. At the Bank of America Theater, our Saturday Night Showcase Film, Mr. Kaplan, is a taught comedy-drama from Uruguay about an aging European immigrant, Jacob Kaplan, who thinks he’s discovered a former Nazi in hiding. Mr. Kaplan will play at 8PM in the Bank of America Theater. Back at the Guild Cinema on Saturday night at 9PM, we will also hold a screening of short films at the Guild Cinema.
On Sunday, September 20th, we will show five fantastic films at the Bank of America Theater in the NHCC. Three films from Mexico, Llevate mis amores, Amor de mis amores and Buen Día, Ramon will play at 11 AM, 4PM and 6PM respectively. Buen Dia, Ramon, is a prize-winning box office hit from Mexico that tells the heartwarming story of a young man from a small Mexican town who immigrates to Germany to find work and support his family, but becomes stranded without shelter or employment. It is a strange relationship with a senior citizen named Ruth that changes everything, and transcends the often problematic issues of race, prejudice and international borders. The Argentinian film Mariposa will play at 2PM. Mariposa is a fascinating philosophical drama in which the flapping of a butterfly’s wings separates two parallel realties for Romina’s life, one in which she becomes friends with and falls in love with a boy named German, and another in which she is separated from her biological parents and adopted as German’s sister. Accompanying our Closing Night Film at 8PM, De pez en Cuando, we will have our annual Closing Night Gala at the NHCC, which will be a lovely evening that I hope you all will join. De pez en cuando is a film from the Dominican Republic and, almost in a Garcia-Marquez-esque streak of magical realism, tells the story of a frustrated young writer whose futile and halfhearted suicide attempt is interrupted by an unexpected friend.
We look forward to seeing you all this year. For such an incredible cast of films, events and guest directors, we have to thank all of those who make this incredible event possible for our community here in Albuquerque. First, we have to thank the main organizers, the Bernalillo County Office of Economic Development, The National Hispanic Cultural Center, Instituto Cervantes and The University of New Mexico’s Latin American and Iberian Institute. This year, we would like to extend special gratitude for all of the key support we have received from our major supporters here in our greater-Albuquerque community. We would like to thank all of the fantastic community organizations that support ¡CineMagnífico! Latino Film Festival: New Mexican Women in Film, The Atrisco Heritage Foundation, The Macune Foundation, New Mexico Arts, Douglas Peterson Investments, Dual-Language Education of New Mexico, IATSE Local 480 Film Technicians Union, the Albuquerque Film Office, UNM Department of Spanish & Portuguese and Print New Mexico.
We look forward to seeing everyone at this year’s festival, the 3rd annual ¡CineMagnífico! Latino Film Festival of Albuquerque, which is quickly becoming one of our communities most exciting, dynamic and important cultural events. For more on each of these amazing films that will be showing, I will be posting articles to ¡El Blog! throughout the next month, so keep an eye on our Facebook page for new blog articles with more information on directors, actors, film reviews, international awards, and what to look forward to in this year’s lineup.
Thanks for reading and supporting, and we will see you there!
¡CineMagnífico! Albuquerque’s Latino Film Festival – September 18th, 19th and 20th, 2015