Contemporary Latin American Cinema
September 3 - December 13
This series looks at fourteen Latin American films made from the early 1980s, when many countries in the region were transitioning to democracy after long periods of dictatorship, through the present day. We will examine how experimentation with conventional narrative, documentary technique, and film form have allowed Latin American filmmakers to comment on their respective countries’ recent histories, ongoing social problems, and prospects for the future. What role does cinema have to play in confronting legacies of military regimes; difficult questions around poverty, migration and narcotrafficking; debates over emerging racial and sexual identities; and aspirations for a just and prosperous future in a region historically bereft
— Daniel R. Quiles, Associate Professor of Art History, Theory & Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Tuesday screenings include lectures by Daniel R. Quiles, Associate Professor of Art History, Theory & Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The series is presented in cooperation with the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism. Additional screenings of the films on Friday or Saturday do not include Prof. Quiles’s lecture.
— Martin Rubin, Associate Director of Programming, Gene Siskel Film Center
Admission to all "No Borders" programs is $5 for Film Center members; usual admission prices apply for non-members. Click here to learn how to become a member.
2008, Heddy Honigmann, Peru/Netherlands, 93 min.
"OBLIVION throws its net across a considerable range of human behavior and bittersweet survival stories, and the result is a wise and beautiful documentary." — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
Returning to her Lima birthplace, Netherlands-based documentarian Honigmann (THE UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA) engages the overlooked underclass citizens she encounters in bars and in the streets. OBLIVION makes for strong comparison with THE PEARL BUTTON as a film essay that evaluates an entire nation’s present in relationship to its past. While the city only appears as a shimmering specter for Guzmán in a film like NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT (2010), Honigmann is on the ground in Lima, face to face with the underclass whose labor, both official and informal, permeates life in the capital. We will reprise our discussion of film as a bearer of national memory, juxtaposing it with quite different approaches to recent Peruvian history like Claudia Llosa’s MILK OF SORROW (2009). In Spanish with English subtitles. 35mm. (Daniel R. Quiles)
Dólares de Arena
2014, Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán, Dominican Republic, 84 min. With Geraldine Chaplin, Yanet Mojica.
"An artful and slyly political example of contemporary art cinema informed by the ethos of the New Wave." — Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times
A young Dominican woman (Mojica) blithely sells her favors to the foreign tourists and expatriates at a beach resort, but things become more complicated with the elderly Frenchwoman (Chaplin) who has fallen in love with her. Many of the films in NO BORDERS inevitably touch or focus on encounters: between different classes, genders, races, sexualities, nationalities, and so on. Sand Dollars is premised on a monetized version of encounter—tourism (and perhaps “sex tourism,” depending on one’s perspective)—that defines Caribbean economies. To better understand Cárdenas and Guzmán’s politics of intimacy, we will compare their film with Third Cinema’s conception of tourism in Mikhail Kalatozov’s I AM CUBA (1964) as well as related examples. In Spanish, French, and English with English subtitles. DCP digital widescreen. (Daniel R. Quiles)
2003, Fernando Pérez Valdes, Cuba, 85 min.
"What’s so rich about this work is its meticulously complete picture of a city caught between decay and reconstruction." — Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine
This semi-documentary collage of Havana tracks ten individuals over the course of a single day. Contemporary Cuba has been defined by the “Special Period in Peacetime,” which began in 1989 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and its economic support. HAVANA SUITE is not strictly a documentary, but it nonetheless offers rapturous images of a desiccated capital nearly forty years on from the Embargo. We will review the history of the Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos, or ICAIC, the heart of the country’s state-funded film industry, and consider Pérez Valdes’s approach in comparison with Revolutionary Cuban cinema’s oscillation between propaganda and nuanced expression in Santiago Álvarez’s shorts, Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT (1968), and contemporary examples such as Ernesto Daranas’ CONDUCTA (2014). In Spanish with English subtitles. 35mm. (Daniel R. Quiles)
2015, Jayro Bustamante, Guatemala, 93 min. With María Mercedes Coroy.
"A vividly observed debut feature ... Bustamante dramatizes his characters and their indigenous way of life with a powerful, almost feverish sense of immersion." — Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times
IXCANUL will return for a full week in January 2017!
IXCANUL ends our series where it began, in Guatemala. Rather than focusing on the devastating rupture with origins that is the experience of migration, however, Bustamante’s film portrays a fixed, traditional indigenous community of coffee-farming peasants. One of them, 17-year-old María, evades an advantageous marriage to the plantation overseer and gets impregnated by a young worker who she hopes will take her with him to the U.S. The affinities and differences between this film and EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT will be a must in our discussion. IXCANUL has been lauded for a feminist storyline — will we feel that such an approach, coming from a Ladino (criollo) director, is appropriate? In Kaqchikel with English subtitles. DCP digital widescreen. (Daniel R. Quiles)