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Five Must-See Films at the 2017 Cine Latino Film Festival

Catch icy westerns, controversial true tales, an Into the Wild-like blend of drama and documentary, and a film featuring Gael García Bernal — of course.
By Sarah Ward
November 25, 2017
By Sarah Ward
November 25, 2017

From French, Greek, Italian and Japanese to Jewish, British, Turkish and Russian, Australian cinemas have welcomed a vast array of cultural film festivals throughout 2017 — but they're not done just yet. Now in its second year, the Cine Latino Film Festival might be the last touring film fest of this year; however, it's here to help end the movie-going calendar with plenty of Central and South American cinema gems.

This year's lineup includes Mexican rom-coms, Argentinian escape thrillers, Peruvian musicals and Chilean road movies, plus more from the festival's 26 film journey through everywhere from Uruguay to Cuba to Colombia to Ecuador. With the fest currently doing the rounds of Aussie capitals until November 29, we've picked five must-see movies from the jam-packed program.


Is it possible to put on a Latin American film festival without Gael García Bernal showing up somewhere? Based on Cine Latino's two outings so far, clearly not. After turning in one of the finest performances of his career in last year's Neruda, the Mexican star returns for You're Killing Me Susana. Swapping poetry, police and politics for marital dramas, he plays the suddenly solo Eligio, who wakes up to find his wife has left him and then follows her to the US — as based on the novel Ciudades Desiertas by Mexican writer José Agustín.


Winter may roam across an icy landscape but it's every inch the western, its frosty sights playing home to a classic tale of survival in an unforgiving location. Winning a special jury prize for its cinematography at last year's San Sebastian International Film Festival, the debut feature from writer/director Emiliano Torres follows an older worker forced to face his future when a younger counterpart starts taking over much of his foreman role. Like many a traditional oater, it values sparse dialogue and stunning sights to help thrust the story forward


Set in a Dominican Republic prison, stemming from reality and shot on location, Woodpeckers genuinely tells a tale you don't hear every day. In fact, you likely haven't heard this tale before. While the idea of love trying to conquer the odds is far from new, the story of petty thief Julián (Jean Jean) and female inmate Yanelly (Judith Rodriguez) is immersed in a location-specific sliver of jailhouse culture. Here, in a moving and immersive effort, detainees communicate via their own form of forbidden sign language — also known as woodpecking —  from their respective men's and women's facilities.


Add El Inca to the pile of big-screen boxing efforts, and add it to the list of controversial films as well. In its homeland, the Venezuelan feature was taken out of cinemas as a result of a court order; however, that hasn't stopped it from becoming the country's submission for this year's foreign-language film category at the Academy Awards. Based on the plight of real-life two-weight world champion Edwin 'El Inca' Valero, the movie not only steps through his professional bouts, but also his personal troubles — including his relationship with his wife, and the tragedies that result.


Gabriel and the Mountain might initially seem like a Brazilian version of Into the Wild, but this Cannes Critics Week standout delves deeper as it tells its own true tale. With spectacular visuals providing quite the backdrop, this blend of recreation and reality charts traveller Gabriel Buchmann's quest to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. He's played by an actor, João Pedro Zappa; however the film pairs him with the people the actual Buchmann crossed paths with, in an involving, insightful and all-round stirring feature that's part travelogue, part character study, part untraditonal documentary.

The 2017 Cine Latino Film Festival will screen at Sydney's Palace Norton Street and Palace Verona from November 14 to 29, Melbourne's Palace Cinema Como and Palace Westgarth from November 16 to 29, and Brisbane's Palace Centro from November 16 to 29.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit the festival website.

Published on November 25, 2017 by Sarah Ward
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