To someone who’s a fan of long, contemplative takes and abstract narrative techniques, Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Syndromes and a Century really delivers! But what’s most refreshing is the lightness and humor the director manages to infuse into a story that deals with memory. I’m still mesmerized by his exquisite compositions.
The next film is Lucrecia Martel’s La Ciénaga, about the life of two women and their families in the small provincial town of Salta, Argentina. Martel’s a master at conveying mood and a sense of place. Like Weerasethakul, Martel is forging a cinematic language that’s all her own. Watching her films is like being honored to take part in a conversation with someone who’s more insightful and thoughtful than I can ever hope to be.
Syndromes and a Century
(Thailand) 2006, Strand Releasing
(Argentina) 2001, Homevision
Music video director, Tijuana Bass and Tengo La Voz
As a local filmmaker with films screening March 12 at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, I’d like to share a few of my influences and inspirations: David Lynch’s masterpiece, Lost Highway. Underrated, it represents all that a great film should have: suspense, amazing plot, and excellent cinematography. It’s one of the most visually poetic films I’ve seen.
Lynch’s film-noir style has been an enormous inspiration. But my second pick, Mulholland Drive, demonstrates how non-linear storytelling can be taken to the next level. With its multilayered plot and eccentric twists and turns, this movie’s a must for any aspiring filmmaker. After watching it 50 times, interesting gaps still remain.
My final pick is Terry Gilliam’s ferociously visual Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Gilliam takes the already surrealistic scenarios of Las Vegas and launches them into another dimension.
(USA) 2001, Universal
(USA) 2002, Universal
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
(USA) 1998, Criterion
Curator, San Diego Latino Film Festival
In 15 years at the festival, I’ve seen Latino cinema push the boundaries of storytelling. Recently, I enjoyed how the quick-paced Ladron Que Roba A Ladron stirred up the standard American heist film and made it uniquely Mexican. Raul Mendez (who stars in Kilometro 31 at this year’s festival) helps make the film thoroughly enjoyable.
Niñas Mal could be dismissed as another rebellious teen comedy, but it brings depth to the characters by exposing very real class struggles. Much-loved actress Martha Higareda (who presents two films at SDLFF) dazzles the camera.
Finally, a real genre twister that combines women wrestlers, monsters, and mad doctors! You can’t help but fall in love with the stunning former Miss Mexico Lorena Velazquez in top form in the ’60s cult classic Las Luchadoras Contra la Momia. I can’t wait for the special tribute for her at this year’s festival.
Ladron Que Roba A Ladron (Wide Screen)
(Mexico) 2007, Lionsgate
Niñas Mal (Charm School) [NTSC/REGION 4 DVD. Import-Latin America]
(Mexico) 2007, Columbia/TriStar
Las Luchadoras Contra La Momia
(Mexico) 1964, Image Entertainment