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CINEMA Cinelatino Festival

New films from Latin America pack a sharp political punch

LA CHICA NUEVA (The New Girl) by Argentinian film-maker Micaela Gonzalo is a splendid debut film, which tells the story of the homeless and broke Jimena who goes to meet her half-brother in Rio Grande.

Seeking to change her life in the midst of a financial crisis, the young Jimena finds a job in a factory there and, with it, a community to belong to.

The director intermingles the personal transformation of the young protagonist with a critique of working life in a film tackling the injustices of an uncaring capitalism. As it does so, it invokes an authentic socialist alternative in an innovative and vigorous way.

Unsentimental and angry, it’s nevertheless a film with an emotional charge throughout.

Set in the near future, Michel Franco’s New Order chronicles a bloody coup d’etat against Mexico’s wealthy ruling class.

Despite chaos in the streets, a guest list of judges and other top society figures attend an opulent wedding celebration but protesters break in and the killing begins.

A  provocative film which explores class warfare and the abuse of power, it holds a powerful message that might be unpalatable to some.

Joao Paulo Miranda Maria’s Memory House is the story of an indigenous black man from the north of Brazil who, in order to keep his job in a dairy factory, has to move to a conservative Austrian community in the south of the country.

Striking visually and brilliantly performed, the film is written and directed with total conviction — a mesmeric homage to tenacious people fighting for their own right to work, identity and dignity.

Colombian film El Alma Quiere Volar (The Soul Wishes to Fly) by Diana Montenegro is a feminist portrait of women connected to men who are abusive, absent or infirm and who want to liberate themselves from this curse.

This is a poignant and relevant film about women’s struggles which, despite its surface placidity, manages by the end to reveal a great deal.

Tengo Miedo Torero (I’m Frightened, Bullfighter) by Chilean Rodrigo Sepulveda is suffused by the oppressive gloom of the Pinochet dictatorship, the revolutionary activism of the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front and the underground life of homosexuals and transvestites — three forces which collide and interact as the narrative develops.

The screenplay is adapted from the eponymous novel by Pedro Lemebel, an emblematic figure of irreverence and marginality in Chile, and the film memorably evokes the solitude, ambiguities and rootlessness of a world in which some are forced to hide.

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