Emerging talents in Latin cinema return to present their works thanks to NewFilmmakers LA

“InFocus: Latinx & Hispanic Cinema Shorts”, the annual mini-festival organized by the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles Association (NFMLA) with the support of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), had to go virtual during the pandemic. But now, it returns to face-to-face presentations to bring its ninth edition to life, which will take place this Saturday from 3 pm at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater, located at 1313 Vine St., Los Angeles, CA 90028.

As has been happening since it began, the show brings together short films created by young filmmakers of Hispanic origin who live in Latin America or the United States, which means that the dialogues of their work are in Spanish, English or a combination of the two languages. The films are also linked by a level of production and artistic quality that allows them to be appreciated beyond the interest they may generate due to their cultural references.

And, if what has been said were not enough, they deserve to be equally seen for what they reveal about their authors in terms of current social, political and aesthetic discussions, because although they are mostly early efforts in the career of their filmmakers, they possess in more than one case a maturity that never ceases to amaze.

To shape the plot aspect of the whole, the festival organizers have separated the 18 works that will be exhibited into three categories, starting with “Connection and Disconnection”, which they themselves define by their ties to family issues, traditions and emotions. In this selection, we highlight “Pool Boy” (USA), a particularly sensual story about the complex relationship that develops between a wealthy Anglo-Saxon university student and the person in charge of cleaning the pool at his parents’ house, who he is a non-binary Latino boy; to “I am not Oscar” (USA/Mexico), a documentary that draws moving parallels between a Salvadoran-American father who has a comfortable life with his daughter and a Salvadoran father who died next to his own daughter. him trying to cross the Rio Grande; and, above all, to “Anywhere” (Mexico), a powerful and beautifully filmed title that initially seems to speak of the ideal relationship that exists between an older man and his little granddaughter in a small Mexican town, but that totally changes course revealing a deeply puzzling twist.

The next segment, “The Surreal’, leans towards the fantasy genre, and frequently surprises with the creativity of the authors of the works presented to achieve extremely decent results in terms of science fiction and horror despite the limitations of means. Although it is the most irregular section of the event, it has notable proposals, such as “Tundra” (Cuba), an impressive work that qualifies rather as a medium-length film -it lasts 30 minutes- and that takes us to a city in Havana affected by an infestation of apparently extraterrestrial origin while telling the story of an electrical inspector who finds himself obsessed with a mysterious “woman in red”. The staging and photography are top notch.

We also liked “Mancha” (United States), where we are introduced to the Puerto Rican owner of a Latin restaurant in Anchorage, Alaska, who faces a kind of supernatural and invasive incarnation of the abuse suffered by the women of her family at the hands of the men; “Night from Hell” (United States), which takes us to a female sorority of Hispanic-oriented students whose initiation rite pits young girls of different origins and ethnic traits against each other who reject the ‘Latinity’ of their opponents; and “I am a vampire” (Mexico), a nice, light and comic story about a girl who thinks she has become a bloodthirsty creature after her parents quarantine her due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Tundra”, a fascinating Cuban short film.

(NFMLA)

The event closes with the “Representation” segment, which allows for the exhibition of our community in the media and in society, and which includes in its proposals “Bad Hombrewood” (USA), an interesting documentary of 24 minutes that, in addition to analyzing the way in which we have been shown in cinema and television in this country, collects opinions and testimonies of young Hispanic filmmakers living in the United States and ends by offering advice for Latinos who intend to follow the route audiovisual in the same American Union, taught neither more nor less than by the great Guillermo del Toro.

Within the same segment, “Arctic Flavor: Latinos in Alaska” also caught our attention, whose name seems to say it all and which, in effect, takes us to the remote state to show us the numerous challenges that immigrants of different origins face (there are statements of people from Mexico, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Peru) to try to reproduce traditional culinary recipes there and maintain their customs in a territory as complicated as that.

At the time of publishing our note, the 2022 edition of “Focus: Latinx & Hispanic Cinema Shorts” is completely sold out; but you can enter this link to sign up for a waiting list that will allow additional viewers to enter.

Emerging talents in Latin cinema return to present their works thanks to NewFilmmakers LA