Latin America has Venice talking

By Ilse Apellaniz

That time of the year is finally here — and the precedent for the most awaited films of this fall season is definitely in the air.

Yes, that time of the year back. It comes in the form of gelato, romantic gondola strolls and, of course, a film program to die for: la Biennale di Venezia is back for its 73rd edition and its lineup looks like one of the strongest ones the prestigious festival has had to date.

The Venice Film Festival started last Wednesday beckoning the end of August and the beginning of 10 days of cinematic stir. The festival opened with greatly anticipated La La Land, Damien Chazelle’s musical extravaganza starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The film got a standing ovation and was very well received in the critic eye, but the hype was replaced soon enough by other equally dazing premieres, like Denis Villeneuve’s somber sci-fi feature Arrival.

This year, one fifth of the festival’s Official Selection (four out of twenty contenders) consists of Latin American films. Competing neck to neck for this year’s Golden Lion against filmmaking legends like Wim Wenders and Terrance Malick, four latino directors stand strong.

Pablo Larraín and Christopher Murray represent Chile with Jackie (a biopic on Jackie Kennedy, starring Natalie Portman) and The Blind Christ (called ‘the discovery of the festival’ by the festival’s artistic director, Alberto Barbera) respectively. The third Latin American film contending is El Ciudadano Ilustre, directed by Argentinian duo Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn.

Representing Mexico, Amat Escalante takes a stand with his most recent film The Untamed. To the surprise of many, Escalante won a Best Director prize for his film Heli in Cannes back in 2013. His straightforward style and crude narrative are unsparing, and have certainly arisen a buzz in the past. The Untamed promises to do precisely that, and the expectative generated around his drama/horror/sci-fi feature has already set a high bar for the Mexican filmmaker.