Vancouver Latin American Film Festival kicks off for viewing across Canada with Indigenous and LGBT picks in the mix

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      With international vacations on hold, here’s an opportunity to learn more about the people, cultures, and issues of some of the travel destinations most frequented by Canadians.

      All films at this year’s 18th Vancouver Latin American Film Festival will be viewable online across Canada from today (August 27) to September 6.

      For those who prefer the experience of viewing films in theatres, seven screenings of the films in the New Directors Competition—which includes films from Mexico, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, and Argentina—and the Tribute to Jorge Lozano and Alexandra Gelis will be presented at the Cinematheque (1131 Howe Street).

      Toronto-based artist and filmmaker Jorge Lozano Lorza, who was born in Colombia and has lived in Canada since 1971, recently won the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts from the Canada Council for the Arts. 

      With over 150 films to his name, two programs will present a selection of his work, as well as a collection of works by Alexandra Gelis, curated by Lozano.

      The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

      The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open by local filmmakers Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn is among the selections in the Indigenous Films from B.C. and Beyond series, which foregrounds women this year. 

      The East Vancouver drama depicts the relationships that develops after a well-educated East Side woman (Tailfeathers) meets a barefoot, pregnant woman in the rain who is trying to escape an abusive home. 

      The film was named best Canadian film by both the Vancouver Film Critics Circle and the Toronto Film Critics Association.

      Mothers of the Land

      There’s also The Border (La Frontera), about a young pregnant Wayuu woman during a political crisis at the Colombian-Venezuelan border, and Mothers of the Land, a documentary about women who protect heirloom seeds amid the industrialization of Peru’s Andrean Highlands.

      The ¡Activisimo! series includes Eliza Capai’s Your Turn (Espero tua (re)volta), a documentary chronicling Brazil's student movement for better public education and an end to austerity measures, from protests in 2013 to the election of President Jair Bolsonaro in 2018.

      The Right Girls

      Queer Cinema includes several offerings, including The Right Girls, about a group of transgender women from El Salvador and Honduras who travel on migrant caravans through Mexico as they struggle to reach the U.S. border while facing transphobia, threats, and obstacles.

      There’s also Argentina’s One in a Thousand (Las mil y una), about a relationship that develops between two young women in the hostile environment of project houses, and Mexico’s Things We Dare Not Do (Cosas que no hacemos), in which a 16-year-old prepares to tell their family about their gender identity.

      There’s plenty more to check out, including several short film programs, and it’s all detailed at the VLAFF website.

      VLAFF call for submissions

      Meanwhile, VLAFF also announced a “Voces Afro Indígenas Voices” call for submissions for its first Cine en Construcción (Work in Progress), which will highlight advanced final cuts of feature films by Afro-descendants and Indigenous filmmakers from Latin America and the Caribbean.

      The films, including fiction, animation, or documentary features, will be screened online from November 23 to 25 to showcase work to festival programmers, exhibitors, distributors, sales agents, and Canadian TV networks and to provide Canadian audiences for Latin American works.

      Seven finalists will be chosen to participate in virtual workshops and compete for an award of US$3,000.

      The deadline is October 30, and full details are available at the VLAFF website.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.