DIFF Latino Showcase: Reality, Imagination and Latin America | 2015 Dallas International Film Festival—April 9-19
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DIFF Latino Showcase: Reality, Imagination and Latin America

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ON SCREEN
ALICE IN MARIALAND
Sunday, April 12 @ Angelika
Tuesday, April 14 @ Angelika
MR. KAPLAN
Sunday, April 12 @ Angelika
Saturday, April 18 @ Angelika
ASCO
Sunday, April 12 @ Angelika
Saturday, April 18 @ Angelika
WORDS WITH GODS
Sunday, April 12 @ Angelika
Friday, April 17 @ Angelika

Latin America, for the minds and hearts of many living there and abroad, stands as a land of magic, and not just because it’s the origin of magical realism literature. In fact, it’s the other way around: magical realism could only arise as a genre in a region that’s as much populated by myths, fantasies, and life’s beauties as it is by people and their harsh realities.

The films of the 2015 Dallas International Film Festival Latino Showcase come from that same background, each with it’s own optic blending of realities and imagination that shine light upon truth and spark their own kind of movie magic.

The most obvious case of that trend is Jesus Magaña’s ALICIA EN EL PAIS DE MARIA (ALICE IN MARIALAND), which literally showcases a fractured storyline that jumps not only in time, but also in planes of reality, switching from oneiric to real life as often as it transitions between scenes.

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But what better way to depict the highs and lows, the troubles and the glory, the breathtaking euphoria, and the ineffable tragedy that deep, passionate love can represent for a couple? That’s director Magaña’s most subtle and yet most prominent point in this feature starring Bárbara Mori, Stephanie Stigman, and Claudio Lafarga. The story unfolds as a statement of how crazy, beautiful, and complicated love can be, and how life can be the same way, particularly with its unpredictable events.

The struggles between a couple lead to a love triangle that defies reason, timelines and reality, thus challenging the audience and portraying a love story that seems all the more real because of it’s almost-magical approach with Mexico City as the setting.

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The magic in MR. KAPLAN, directed by Alvaro Brechner, comes in a much more subtle form, almost as relaxed and understated as the Uruguayan towns and beaches depicted in the film—it’s all about the internal life and larger-than-life ambitions of the title character, Mr. Kaplan. In order to break out of the rut his life has become at 80, he begins hunting to hunt down a fugitive Nazi war criminal that allegedly lives close to his hometown.

What follows transcends the apparent slice-of-life take on the story, twisting it ever so slightly in a detectivesque tale of Quixotic proportions, as Mr. Kaplan becomes increasingly obsessed by his quest despite all the evidence and the odds against him. Nonetheless, a bit of that magical happenstance gives meaning to both his life and his quest towards the climax of the film.

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But for the magical subtlety of MR. KAPLAN, Brazilian art film ASCO makes up for with surrealism that borders in the absurd. Alejandro Pascoliani’s black-and-white feature negates any sort of division between fantasy and reality—they’re one and the same, at least for the lead characters in the film. Life may not be black and white, and to challenge that, Pascoliani delivers a story shock-full of situations that challenge the audience’s perceptions and beliefs, all while depicting it in pristine black-and-white cinematography and almost completely stripped of any dialogue.

Images, symbolism, and surrealist situations collide and intertwine, weaving together a narrative that is sometimes as confusing as the character’s obsessions, or as abandoned and dark as their lives—and Pascoliani’s style does so unapologetically, using a certain magical accent to it all.

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WORDS WITH GODS, an anthology film spearheaded by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Arriaga, demonstrates that the setting doesn’t need to correspond to Latin America to still reflect that magic about reality. Spanning locations all around the globe, from Japan to India, to the Middle East, to the Balkans, and to Latin America itself, WORDS WITH GODS presents nine stories from nine different directors of varying faiths and cultures, with each narrative embodying the style and philosophical questions championed by it’s given auteur. Family dysfunctions, disasters, religious tensions, human vices, and personal struggles thus receive a coating of film narrative prowess that sometimes edges on the supernatural and other times simply highlights the rawness of the human condition on grander, universal scheme, which is both awful and awesome whether magical or not.

In the end, the Latino Showcase this year could be said to redefine Hitchcock’s dictum: drama may not after all be “life with the dull parts cut out”, but rather, drama, and all of art, may very well be life with it’s magic posted front and center. At least, that’s how it’s done in Latin America.


MAJOR DONORS

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DALLAS STAR AWARDS

L.M. Kit Carson (Posthumously)
Lone Star State legend and influential writer, actor and producer Carson first gained recognition as creator of the mockumentary, DAVID HOLZMAN’s DIARY (1968), and co-wrote PARIS, TEXAS (1984).

Blythe Danner
Danner is well regarded for her roles in films such as MEET THE PARENTS and THE GREAT SANTINI. The Emmy-winning and Golden Globe-nominated actress is alos know for her work on television shows such as Will & Grace and Huff.

John Landis
A director for more than 40 years, Landis' films include NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE (1980), THE BLUES BROTHERS (1978) and AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981).

Learn more about the honorees

TEXAS AVERY AWARD
Presented by REEL FX

Phil Lord and Chris Miller
are the prolific writing and directing duo behind some of today’s most successful comedy films including, THE LEGO MOVIE, 21 & 22 JUMP STREET and CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS.

Learn more about the honorees

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