Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Toulouse Roundup

Last week I attended the Cine Latino Film Festival in Toulouse, France. It's an annual showcase of the best in Latin American cinema, one of the biggest in the world. I attended as a guest of the CINEMA EN CONSTRUCCION strand, which is a competition for unifinished films looking for post-production money.

The Festival is very relaxed, laid back, and the beer is cheap. The anti-Cannes, if you will. Lots of directors from Latin America fly in and the atmosphere is positively latino. Last year I attended as part of the CINE SIN FRONTERAS (now CINEMALAB) programme, with the CINE ESTELI project.

I saw seven films in two days, including opener from Argentina ROMPECABEZAS, a tired collection of cliches about a woman who obsesses over puzzles (the title of the film). Not a great beginning. This was a finished film which competed the year before for the CONSTRUCCION prize.

Another finished film I saw was LAS MARIMBAS DEL INFIERNO, from Guatemala, which can only be described as Central America's answer to ANVIL, about a poor marimba player who joins a heavy metal band. This is one of the best films I have seen all year: moving, hilarious, beautifully shot. A real original crowd pleaser, and made in the docu-drama style of ALAMAR.

I won't bore you with the collection of unfinished films because it's not really fair to review something which doesn't even have a sound design, but suffice to say, most were done in the 'slow cinema' style that has completely taken over all festivals worldwide, and they bored me to death. Except one: BONSAI, a Chilean film from Cristian Jimenez (pictured), a director from Valdivia (where I was last year), also produced by Bruno Bettati, a friend and director of the Valdivia Festival. BONSAI, as I tweeted, was like 500 DAYS OF SUMMER with a PhD in Proust. As the director himself sais before the screening, it's a film about love, books and plants. It's also gorgeously shot (in Valdivia and Santiago), well acted, cleverly written and genuinely erudite in its use of literary references (a cat is called Gogol). It should be a festival hit and might even be a minor commercial success in selected territories. This film won the Best Film Prize at the Construccion competition, which ensures its post-production and distribution in France (TONY MANERO was a previous winner).

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