When Latino Cinemedia curator Cristina Venegas put the documentary Stranded at the top of her sidebar’s must-see list, I initially treated the recommendation with skepticism. How could a documentary about the famous 1972 crash in the Andes of a plane full of Uruguayan athletes be the film I most need to see? But not even five minutes in, I was hooked. The soundtrack is haunting, the first-person accounts of the survivors are compelling, the filmmaking is beautiful, the editing of reenactments, interviews, and historical footage is seamless. Like many of the selections in Latino Cinemedia, it is not to be missed.
Venegas, a UCSB professor, is quick to point out that by its very nature, this particular series is varied and covers a lot of territory. Latin American films are represented (a huge and vibrant genre on its own), as well as selections from Spain and the U.S. But there’s also an indigenous program, featuring two films from Navajo filmmakers (Water Flowing Together and Horse You See) and other native-made shorts and features from Australia and New Zealand.
The topics covered span everything from questions of sexual identity in XXY to Mexican legal issues and family conflict in Where Are Their Stories? (Â¿D³nde Est¡n Sus Hist³rias?) to a crime drama set in Barcelona called My Way, which is compelling and full of psychological intrigue, family conflict, and surprise until the last frame. If you like your films dark, Venegas recommends Brazilian director Cl¡udio Assis’s Bog of Beasts (Baixio das Bestas). With a different tone, Who Killed the White Llama? (Â¿Quien Mat³ a la Llamita Blanco?) is a political parody from Bolivia.
There are also world premieres offered here, including Water Flowing Together, 3:19, and The Man of Two Havanas. The U.S. premieres screening at the festival include Hills of Disorder (Serras de Desordem) and My Way. Since the program is vast, the films mentioned here represent only a few of the many available titles screening. Check the schedule, don’t be afraid to read subtitles, and prepare to be entertained.