Cinélatino: the diversity of award-winning films testifies to the richness of Latin American cinema

Immersed in the trans milieu of Medellin in Colombia, a city that is both conservative and transgressive, this is what offers the film Anhell 69 by Théo Montoya, awarded the SFCC Critics' Prize at the 35th Cinélatino meetings in Toulouse. © Cinélatino 2023

Text by: Isabelle Le Gonidec

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The winners of the XXXVth edition of the Rencontres de Cinélatino fell on Saturday evening. We can only hope that these films find a distributor in France, as they often tell us, starting from the intimate, universal stories. Among the distinguished films, the Mexican Dos estaciones, by Juan Pablo Gonzalez and the Colombian Anhell 69 by Theo Montoya. Two very different proposals that testify to the cinematographic richness of the American continent.


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from our special envoy in Toulouse,

These two films Dos estaciones and Anhell 69 were in competition in the fiction category but both flirt with documentary, raising the question of cinematographic genres, labels placed on films for festivals, said a director. Dos estaciones tells the story of a woman owner of a tequila distillery who fights to keep her business alive, against competition, especially from North America. Massive silhouette, economical with words and expression, Maria inherited the distillery from her family, she is the guardian of a long tradition even if she does not hesitate to modernize. But we must have the means.

The distillery is beautifully filmed with its giant copper-colored stills. The film - which we discovered at the San Sebastian Film Festival (in the Horizontes latinos section) last September - also tells the story of the director's family who comes from the state of Jalisco, and was a tequila producer for three generations. Maria works in an artisanal way in a market that has become globalized with the explosion of tequila consumption. She watches over her little world of workers and peasants (non-professional actors) wonderfully interpreted by Teresa Sanchez, a Mexican actress who also works a lot in the theater, but rather confined to supporting roles in the cinema, at least in the films distributed on this side of the Atlantic.

She was discovered in the film Perpetuum mobile (2009) by Nicolas Pereda where she was the mother of Gabino (Rodriguez) a young man living from odd jobs, then reviewed in La camarista (The maid) by Lila Avilés who called on her again for the role of the nurse in his film Totem, also in competition at Cinélatino this year where it won a prize in Berlin. And the film leaves with the fiction audience prize of La dépêche du Midi. In Totem, which features a family celebrating the birthday of a seriously ill young man, Teresa Sanchez is the guardian angel of the house, the tender and comforting nurse of the patient and little Sol, his daughter.

The film Totem by Lila Avilès was also in the fiction competition in Toulouse, a choral film awarded the audience prize of La dépêche du Midi. © Cinélatino 2023

Between Dos estaciones and Anhell 69, there is a chasm, a cultural gap. We move from the highlands of Jalisco, from a rural and traditional world, from a woman struggling to keep a family business in the city of Medellin in Colombia, to an urban generation that questions the place attributed to it in a destructured and violent country. The young director Théo Montoya, whose film went through the box Cinema under construction, makes a moving and terrible portrait of his band of friends, or at least what remains of them.

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The first images of the film are those of a young man dead, in a hearse in the streets of Medellin. You can just see his face standing out against the white satin. The driver of the hearse is none other than the director Victor Gaviria also from Medellin, we could not dream of a safer guide ... In voice-over, the dead tells his story, his city, his country. He tells his desire to make a film - about a cult of ghosts - and gives his friends a casting to know which one he will retain for the role. In front of the camera, each his story is then staged in trans parties, in the street, in a cemetery where relatives are buried one after the other. Sex, drugs, cross-dressing, show... To escape the violent universe in which the country is immersed, one must accept to live from day to day, at the risk of burning one's wings.

Anhell 69 had its world premiere at the International Critics' Week of the Venice Film Festival in 2022 where it received the Special Jury Mention. An original film in its form, poetic and moving and also, like that of Juan Pablo Gonzalez, but as filmed on another planet. On the Latin American continent there are many cinema planets and the Cinélatino Encounters are the telescope that allows us to align them.

Here, all the winners of the 35th Rencontres Cinélatino

Cinélatino, 35th Rencontres de Toulouse © Cinélatino 2023

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  • Cinema
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  • Colombia
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