What to See: The Vancouver Latin American Film Festival

The Vancouver Latin American Film Festival (VLAFF) kicks off its 16th season tomorrow, and you don't want to miss it! This year features International Hits, New Directors, the ¡Activismo! focus on activist documentary, a program of queer Latinx films, a highlight of Indigenous film from BC and beyond, and a section dedicated to Black Filmmakers from Latin America. But how do you pick which films to see? Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of picks to get you started. Take a look at our selections below, then check out the full program guide and add some of your own: vlaff.org/program-guide-2018



Director: Óscar Catacora
August 25th, 7:30 @ SFU Woodward's | Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
August 30th, 2:30pm @ The Cinematheque

The first Peruvian feature film in the Aymara language.

"The main characters of Wiñaypacha carry upon their bent backs the sadness of being forgotten by their son. Nonetheless, they do not invest in anger nor build up blame. They spend their days weaving the blanket that keeps them warm on cold nights, chewing on coca leaves, and dreaming of a wind that will bring their firstborn back home. This debut film by Óscar Catacora draws with delicate lines the emotional story of his grandparents who taught him to speak Aymara when he was seven years old and his parents sent him to live with them in the highlands of Acora. Wiñaypacha, the first Peruvian feature film in the Aymara language, imprints upon the screen panoramic postcard images painted with the nostalgic breath of a zen-like couple who, despite their solitude, wake up every morning embraced by the illusion of hope." - Mar del Plata Film Festival

Una Mujer  Fantástica  poster via VLAFF.

Una Mujer Fantástica poster via VLAFF.

A FANTASTIC WOMAN - Una Mujer Fantástica (Chile)
Director: Sebastián Lelio
September 1st, 7pm @ The Cinematheque
September 6th, 8:30pm @ Goldcorp Centre for the Arts

First Chilean film in history to receive the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (2018).

"Marina and Orlando are in love and plan to spend their lives together. She works as a waitress and pursues her passion for singing by night. Her lover, twenty years her senior, has left his family for her. One night, when they return home after celebrating Orlando’s birthday together at a restaurant, he suddenly turns pale and stops responding. After rushing to the hospital, a doctor confirms his death. Events follow thick and fast: Marina finds herself facing unpleasant and invasive questioning from police, and Orlando’s family shows her nothing but anger and mistrust. On top of her loss, Marina, a trans woman, must now contend with the prejudice, hatred and disrespect she faces as she attempts to grieve. With the same pride and determination she once used to fight for her right to live as a woman, Marina now fiercely insists on her right to mourn."

El Concursante poster via VLAFF.

El Concursante poster via VLAFF.

THE CONTESTANT - El Concursante (Colombia)
Director: Carlos Osuna
August 26th, 1pm @ The Cinematheque
August 30th, 6:45pm @ The Cinematheque

"A film made for those who have suffered some kind of injustice. A movie for those who have to live in a society governed by chance. A society where we are always on a list to be selected but never get chosen. A society of contestants who will never win." - Carlos Osuna

"A spice company announces a nationwide contest where 2000 pressure cookers will be handed out in exchange for 20 labels of one of their products. In Cartagena, Cristobal’s mother, obsessed with securing one, orders him to stand in line; when he arrives, he discovers that thousands more have already been waiting since the early morning hours. Twelve thousand hopeful people sit in the blazing sun for hours on end for their chance of getting a free cooker. All hell breaks loose when the participants begin to suspect that their efforts will come to nothing. Rife with delightfully absurd humour and a roast of machismo culture, The Contestant is a scathing satire of a society pushed to its limits by consumerism."

Oso Polar poster via VLAFF.

Oso Polar poster via VLAFF.

OSO POLAR (Mexico)
Director: Marcelo Tobar
August 29th, 6:30pm @Vancity Theatre
August 31st, 9:30pm @  The Cinematheque

The first Mexican film to be shot entirely on a cell phone camera.

"Shot entirely on cell phone cameras, Marcelo Tobar’s Oso Polar is a riotous accomplishment of DIY filmmaking. Taking place in one day, it follows the story of Heriberto, Flor and Trujillo, three elementary school friends who meet up again after many years to go to a class reunion party together. Along the way—which is full of car malfunctions, rambling stories, and booze—intense childhood secrets come to light. As Heriberto attempts to reconnect with Flor and Trujillo, it becomes clear that the latter are not really his friends at all, as they begin to replicate the abusive dynamic they exhibited so many years ago. But Heriberto is no longer the same person he was back then, and he is about to give them the surprise of their lives."

Heredera del viento poster via VLAFF.

Heredera del viento poster via VLAFF.

HEIRESS OF THE WIND - Heredera del viento (Nicaragua)
Director: Gloria Carrión Fonseca
August 29th, 5pm @ The Cinematheque

What does individual suffering matter in face of the suffering of an entire country? This is the question implicit throughout the documentary. And we see how it does matter. -Juan Carlos Ampié, La Prensa (Nicaragua)

"In 1979 Nicaragua, a dictatorship that lasted decades has been overthrown and the revolutionary Sandinistas have taken over. As far as young Gloria is concerned, they are superheroes—particularly as her parents are on the front line of the coup and subsequent civil war. But the revolution takes its toll—her parents’ dedication to the cause means they have little time for their children. Years later, their adult daughter turns to the camera as she touches on painful subjects relating to her parents. This results in candid, searing discussions about torture, tragic deaths, doubt, disillusionment and parenting, which always took second place to the greater good. Extensive use of archive footage also presents us with a clear historical impression of a changing Nicaragua." -IDFA

Candelaria Poster via VLAFF.

Candelaria Poster via VLAFF.

CANDELARIA (Cuba/Colombia)
Director: Jhonny Hendrix in attendance
September 1st, 7:15pm @ SFU Woodward's | Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
September 2nd, 3:15pm @The Cinematheque

Part of the Spotlight on Black Cinema, director Jhonny Hendrix will be in attendance!

"Havana, 1994. Right when the embargo is at its peak, the Cold War comes to an end and the Soviet Union disintegrates. Candelaria, 75, and Víctor Hugo, 76, are more focused on finding enough to eat and preserving their one remaining lightbulb than they are on each other. The days are repetitive, conversations are sparse, dinners are sad. But the monotony is suddenly broken when Candelaria finds a video camera tangled in the dirty sheets of the hotel laundry where she works. Not sure of what to do with it just yet, she brings it home. The arrival of this foreign object in their home unleashes all kinds of unexpected consequences. This sweet and saucy tale of an older married couple re-finding their spark, is absolutely lovely to watch." 

La Vida Suspendida de Harley Prosper Poster via VLAFF.

La Vida Suspendida de Harley Prosper Poster via VLAFF.

THE STILL LIFE OF HARLEY PROSPER - La vida suspendida de Harley Prosper (Mexico, Canada)
Director:  Juan Manuel Sepúlveda
August, 24, 7:15pm @ The Cinematheque

Best Film in Burning Lights - Visions du RéelSpecial Mention - FICUNAMBest Director (Documentary) - Málaga International Film Festival

"As a child, Harley Prosper was appointed to become the traditional healer of his community, a Cree village in the plains of central Canada. When he grew up, Harley rejected his responsibility and ran away to Vancouver where he sunk into an abyss of alcoholism, defying the Spirit who had chosen him. Now in his early 30s and confined in a hospice for the terminally ill, the film follows Harley’s daily ritual as he confronts the inner voices that constantly remind him that it is impossible to escape his destiny. And even less so, his history." 

The Vancouver Latin American Film Festival runs from Thursday, August 23rd to Sunday, September 2nd, at various venues across the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations (Metro Vancouver).