A review of the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival

MyVanCity.ca ran a contest to win tickets to the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival courtesy of the Festival. One of our winners has submitted a review of her experience.

With thanks to Colleen Tsoukalas for her “guest writer” review.

I return to the Latin American Film Festival as often as possible for so many reasons: I love to travel and learn about places through their films and literature, especially.  While in the short line-ups for the two features I was very fortunate to see, I listened to languages spoken with music and passion; everyone was so enthusiastic to be there! For this, the 12th one, I was inspired by the art work on the festival booklet and by the excellent photos and write-ups.

Thank you for the two tickets to see ILLITERATE, Chile, 2013 by Director Moises Sepulveda.  As a teacher, I was touched by Ximena’s struggle to learn to read but also by Jackeline, a  young teacher and her struggle to teach Ximena to read.  A Kindergarten teacher is inspired by early learners’ enthusiasm and confidence that they are going to learn to read, but as a teacher of high school and adult students, I was even more inspired by those who had struggled yet remained ‘in the game’.  Ximena has issues with trust – how can she tell anyone her secret and who can find the strategies to help her succeed?  Jackeline, who has found her recent teaching, not quite what she imagined, finds the true test of her skills working with an isolated adult who really needs and wants to read bus schedules, street signs, newspapers and more importantly, a letter from the father who abandoned her.  Loved the heart and depth of this movie and the fact that the director was there to talk about it.

The second film I was treated to is HAPPY NEW YEAR, GRANDMA! Spain, 2011 by Telmo Esnai, who was also in attendance and patiently and enthusiastically answered many questions after the ovations.  A totally surprising dark comedy-tragedy, this is a story about the sandwich generation, with everyone trying to look after themselves as well as Grandma.  Not a happy ending, this one shows how patterns are repeated and what catastrophes happen when resources are insufficient.  Once again, multi layered, real and indicative of our times, culturally, politically and economically.  There is darkness beneath the light and tears behind the laughter.

Thanks again Latin American Festival, 2014.

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