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Posts Tagged ‘film’

Congratulations to Coco — winner of the 2018 Academy Award for Original Song, “Remember Me” (“Recuérdame”), and winner for best Animated Feature Film.  Most of all, felicidades to all the bisabuelas (great-grandmothers) and abuelitas (grandmothers) who inspired the character of Coco with their strength, pride, and love.

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Carnaval 2018, San Martín Tilcajete, Oaxaca

And, bravo to Guillermo del Toro (Best Director) and The Shape of Water (Best Movie) — ¡Viva México!

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In the last five years one million Mexicans residing in the US have returned to Mexico, including children and youth who were born or raised in the US.  Una Vida, Dos Países presents the stories of these transborder youth, highlighting their experiences living between two countries, cultures, languages and education systems, and exploring their parents’ decisions to return to their home country after living undocumented in the US.

Thirty seconds into the new documentary, Una Vida, Dos Países by Tatyana Kleyn, tears began welling up.  Set in Ciénaga de Zimatlán and Tlacolula de Matamoros, both in the central valley of Oaxaca, the places and faces were so very familiar and it hurt to hear the anguish in their voices and see the sadness in their eyes.

I love Oaxaca and, at this stage of my life, have chosen to immerse myself in a foreign culture.  However, these kids didn’t have a choice.  One day, they are normal “American” kids — going to school, playing with friends, speaking English in bustling towns and cities in the USA.  And the next day, they are uprooted from all that is familiar to find themselves “transfronterizos,” living in small rural pueblos bound by a millennia of tradition, surrounded by strangers who are speaking languages, Spanish and/or Zapoteco, they are either not fluent in or don’t know at all.  In addition, they are forced to navigate a school system that has little or no understanding of the culture shock they are experiencing.

What more can I say?

Early in the film, Melchor’s father says, “This is my family, this is my house, not a beautiful house, but when you want to come here, the door is open for you, for everybody.”  Oh, that governments would exhibit that same generous hospitality.

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Today the Oaxaca Lending Library played host to Oaxaca FilmFest4 founder and artistic director, Ramiz Adeeb Azar.  He and 4 members of the festival staff came to the library to “pitch” the festival, which opens September 21 and runs through the 28th.  (Note:  it has moved from November to September).  It wasn’t a hard sell, as many of us have been following it since it began in 2010.  And, I’ve got to say, it’s come a long way in a short amount of time.  According to Ramiz, it has…

  • Grown to be one of the Largest International Film Festivals in Latin America
  • Discovered over a dozen films that have gone onto commercial success
  • Created a highly competitive Script Writing Competition.
  • Created “Pitch It”; a unique platform that allows screenwriters to sell their scripts to industry executives around the globe
  • Conducted the longest University Rally ever (10 days throughout the entire state!)
  • Rolled out Academia; a five-day training program designed to enhance Festival Attendees’ self-distribution skills
  •  Developed Academia Exchange; a unique exchange between filmmakers and students

  • Gained membership of the Mexican Film Festival Association (La Red Mexicana de Festivales Cinematográficos) and in 2013 was the host of their national conference
  • Gained recognition as an official IMDB Film Festival

The festival has already set up shop in Plaza San Jerónimo (on Macedonio Alcalá) where staff and volunteers are hard at work and, like last year, the site will serve as the festival’s Hospitality and Information Center.

If you love film, but have never been to a film festival, I highly encourage you to give it a try.  Prior to relocating to Oaxaca, for 7 years, one of the highlights of my calendar year was volunteering at the Mill Valley Film Festival.  Besides being a lot of fun (never forget, on my hands and knees mopping up spilled red wine at the feet of Katherine Ross and Sam Elliot), I had the opportunity to see some truly wonderful films — especially shorts and documentaries that are rarely shown in the big chain multiplexes.  The MVFF was one of the things I missed most (along with crusty sourdough bread and being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet) when I moved down here.

However, along came the Oaxaca FilmFest and, though it didn’t satisfy my craving for sourdough bread or cause new plumbing to be installed in Oaxaca, it does come with a well-considered, eclectic, and always creative selection of films (feature-length and shorts) from all over the world.

Last year, El último hielero (The Last Ice Merchant) a touching documentary from Equador was a favorite of mine, as was The Cart, a humorous short from Russia.  And, if the two short films Ramiz showed today —  the animated, Sleight of Hand and the very moving, Part of the Change — were any indication, the selectors did a terrific job again this year.  So, if you are in Oaxaca, get thee to the Oaxaca FilmFest4 information center at Plaza San Jerónimo and pick up your festival schedule or download it from the festival website.

FYI:  All screenings are public and free (except Cinemex and Foundation Nights) and every film is projected in its original language, with Spanish, English, or dual subtitles.

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Still recovering from last week’s Día de los Muertos celebrations, another marathon of activities is upon us — last night the third Oaxaca FilmFest opened.  With 10 days, 25 venues, 300 films, 5 days of academic programs, among many other events, I can see it’s going to be no rest for the weary!

FilmFest3 logo projected on screen

So, with Golden Key passes (approx. US$11.50) hanging from our necks, last night my indomitable 86-year old neighbor and I walked down to the festival’s headquarters at Plaza San Jerónimo on the Alcalá for the opening night cocktail party.  Gringos and international filmmakers mingled with a predominantly young and hip Oaxaqueño crowd.  Needless to say, cervesas, mezcal, and horchata flowed freely, accompanied by yummy (though less plentiful) botanas.

We eventually wound our way over to Teatro Juárez to hear founder and artistic director, Ramiz Adeeb Azar, welcome an almost full house, open the festival, and introduce the three opening night films:  shorts, Postmodern Times from Austria and The Game from Poland and feature length film, Tilt from Bulgaria and Germany.  All three were gripping, thought provoking, and held the audience’s attention.  (Chris, they all passed the Low Cough Principle test.)  It was a good start!

Ramiz Adeeb Azar standing at podium

Ramiz Adeeb Azar

During the course of the evening, we spoke with two American screenwriters, who each have scripts entered in a Script Competition, and American filmmaker Matt Dunnerstick, whose film, The Custom Mary, will be screened tonight and again later in the festival.  It’s truly an international festival and (at least last night) all the films were subtitled in both Spanish and English, as is all the program material.

I can’t believe how much bigger and more professional this festival has gotten in only three years.  I attended in 2010, the first year, and coming off eight years of volunteering at the Mill Valley Film Festival and attending for many more, I was underwhelmed and thus ignored last year’s Oaxaca FilmFest.  All I can say is, you’ve come a long way, baby!  I’m glad I’ve got my Golden Key pass and, like these folks, I will be intently studying my program booklet and scheduling grid.

Man and woman sitting reading program

I’ll see you at the movies!!!

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Argiope’s neighbor (of Orb Weavers blog post fame) has returned! Two days ago I spotted the Neoscona oaxacensis (Ms Oaxaca, to her nearest and dearest) nestled among the leaves of a succulent in the pot next to her original home. However, no large round insect catching web was seen.

Neoscona oaxacensis spider nestled in the leaves of a succulent

Apparently, last night Ms Oaxaca must have stayed up pretty late. This morning, when I came out to say, “buenos días,” I found her happily sitting in the middle of a brand new web.

Neoscona oaxacensis spider in the middle of her web.

According to SpidCat, the range of the Neoscona oaxacensis runs from the USA, down to Peru and the Galapagos Islands. They are not only beautiful and harmless, they keep the flying insect population down. So, if you’re lucky enough to have one in your garden, leave her be. If you don’t want to take my word for it, there was the study published in the California Avocado Society Yearbook (1980) that concluded,

…the significance of the orb weaving Neoscona in avocado orchards is probably not that they prevent dramatic population increases in the pest population or control the pests through the year. Instead, the presence of spiders, even in years of low pest populations, may dampen the increases in pest species during the later months of the season and serve as stabilizing agents to restrain the pest outbreaks during the interval between pest population increases and the numerical response of more specific parasites.

Anything that is good for avocados, is okay by me!

(ps) And now for something completely different… The answers to the Name that film quiz are:

  • Birds of America = Vecinos y enemigos
  • Brokeback Mountain = Secreto en la montaña
  • Easy Virtue = Buenas costumbres
  • Midnight Sting = El golpe perfecto
  • People I know = Noche del crimen
  • Tenderness = Asesino intimo
  • That Evening Sun = Una historia de traicion
  • Up in the Air = Amor sin escalas

Sorry, no prizes… just this bonus bizarre title translation my Spanish teacher contributed: Mrs. Doubtfire = Papá por siempre. Definitely a case of, lost in translation!!!

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Librarians, especially at the reference desk, are often called upon to be detectives.  However, sleuthing goes on behind the scenes, as well.  Lately, I’ve been cataloging DVDs at the Oaxaca Lending Library.  While most of the films are from el norte, they have been purchased in Mexico and thus have been given Spanish language titles.

Can you match these titles with the DVD jackets below?

  • Amor sin escalas
  • Asesino intimo
  • Buenas costumbres
  • El golpe perfecto
  • Una historia de traicion
  • Noche del crimen
  • Vecinos y enemigos
  • Secreto en la montaña

Answers will be revealed at the bottom of the next blog posting.

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