Julian Gutierrez-Albilla's film festival highlighted the following films:
Directed by Carles Bosch and José Maria Domènech, 2002
In the summer of 1994, a team of public television reporters began filming and interviewing seven Cubans and their families a few days before they risked the open sea on homemade rafts to reach the U.S. coast. One of the balseros (rafters) was on a raft that was not seaworthy and had to return to Havana. The others made it far enough to be picked up at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard and taken to the North American naval base at Guantanamo, where the film crew caught up with them and recorded their many months of confinement. Their families in Cuba had no news of them. When the balseros were finally allowed to go to the Unted States, the film crew went with them to a string of cities that included Miami; the Bronx; York, Pa.; Grand Isle, Nebr.; Albuquerque, N. Mex.; and a host of other places. Seven years later, the film crew visited them again to discover what their destiny has been in the United States. This is a true story about some of the authentic survivors of our times, the human adventure of people who are shipwrecked between two worlds.
Directed by Chus Gutiérrez, 2002
Lucia, a young teacher who lives in Madrid, goes back to her homeland with her daughter Clara when her father dies. Once there, she rediscovers her childhood village of “La Isla.” Beside this world bordered by the sea and buffeted by the constantly blowing wind, Lucia finds another universe, a world made of plastic. In this mixture of universes, there is a multi-ethnic world arising from successive waves of migration. Some people have just arrived, some arrived many years ago, and some of those who have returned to their homeland seem to have forgotten the time spent in exile. Fear is in the air: fear of others, fear of difference. Lucia decides to stay on in this island-town to carry on with her father’s business, and this is to provide the pretext for changing her whole life.
A post office is a crossroad of written emotions. Contained emotions that are barely spoken and often badly written. This is what has found Carla Perez, a young modern woman, working in the Cuban post administration. A scribbled word, here or there, may bring so much joy or contain the deepest sorrow. With talent and success, Carla starts changing letters by giving her emotions word and meanings.
At first, it is just a game to help her wait for an unlikely opportunity to escape her boring life in Cuba. But soon she’s deeply involved in helping her fellow citizens find happiness, and she falls in love with a young Cuban. After winning a U.S. green card at the annual immigration lottery, she finds the unbelievable opportunity to sail to America a sudden reality. Now she has to make a difficult choice between her future and the life of the people who depend on her.
From the producers of Y tu mama tambien comes a shocking new thriller about the power of the media. Tabloid TV reporter, Manolo Bonilla (John Leguizamo), has traveled from Miami with his news crew on the trail of a story about a serial killer striking a small town in Ecuador. Convinced this story could be the “big one” that makes him a network star, he is willing to bend the rules to get the facts. But the closer he gets to uncovering the truth, the more he finds his carefully planned story spinning dangerously out of control. Soon, Bonilla and his crew find themselves at the center of a frightening situation where even the best intentions can backfire. Featuring a pan-Latin cast and crew, Cronicas is written and directed by Sebastian Cordero and produced by acclaimed filmmakers Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro.
Dirt is the story of the clashing of cultures and classes in modern-day New York. Dolores Del Rosario is an undocumented Salvadoran immigrant who cleans luxury apartments in New York City. Her story takes us from Manhattan’s Upper East Side to Corona, Queens, to Metapan, El Salvador. Dirt is an insider’s look—both comic and tragic—at the invisible lives of the “illegals” who live and work alongside us every day.
El lápiz del carpintero
Since the year Spain split in two, Herbal always carries a carpenter’s pencil. Shortly before that, he had volunteered to follow Daniel Da Barca, a young republican doctor, whose girlfriend, Marisa Mallo, was the daughter of a renowned reactionary opportunist. Herbal, invisible to the eyes of the couple, becomes their shadow, fascinated by Daniel’s knowledge, Marisa’s beauty, and their love. But very soon, he starts mistaking passion with hate, admiration with jealousy, and obligation with obsession.
Daniel is soon incarcerated for his ideas, but he is not a common prisoner; his culture, imagination, and compromise make him very popular among his comrades and put him in the spotlight of the guardians. From outside, Marisa fights against the intolerance of her father and desperately tries to free her boyfriend. Herbal, the silent guard, listens, with a mix of fury and astonishment, to the stories the prisoners tell to make their imprisonment less painful.
The injustice of war shakes the country. Many prisoners are clandestinely executed in horrifying random decisions; soon it will be Daniel’s turn, and it will be Herbal who, once again victim and executioner of his own fears, will have to choose between violence and conscience.
Co-writers and directors Gabriel Retes and Loures Elizarrarás co-star as clownishly self-important director Mariano Pacheco and his lead actress in this Altman-esque comedy that uses the real-life Guadalajara festival in Mexico as its backdrop. Featuring cameos by Fidel Castro, Harry Belafonte, the late Cuban director Pastor Vega, and internationally renowned actress Daisy Granados. Despite the universal rejection of their film Welcome as a betrayal of Latin American cinema, Retes and Elizarrarás manage to hustle it into festival contention. Their fortunes change when rumors surface that Spielberg is interested.
Reprinted with permission from the Latino Film Festival promotional brochure.