Cannes 2014: Latin American Report


As the 67th edition of the famed Cannes Film Festival winds down, the five selected Latin American films competing in the different sections have all premiered by now. 2014 will be marked as another solid year for Latin American cinema at Cannes -even though the region was only represented by Argentina and Colombia in this edition.

The Latin American film that has gotten the most critical acclaim is Lisandro Alonso's Jauja. The fifth feature film by the Argentinean director is participating in Un Certain Regard, and it has been one of the best reviewed film in the festival so far. Starring and produced by Viggo Mortensen, in Jauja, a father and daughter journey from Denmark to an unknown desert that exists in a realm beyond the confines of civilization.

"We have in Jauja the most beautiful scenes we've seen since the beginning of the festival" wrote Le Monde, while the Hollywood Reporter noted that "its reception in Cannes' Certain Regard was ecstatic." "The effect is nothing if not poetic," wrote Screen.

Damián Szifron's Relatos salvajes / Wild Tales, the only Latin American film competing in the official selection, was also well received getting a long and loud standing ovation and with (mostly) enthusiastic reviews. "A little bit Almodovar, a little bit Tarantino (...) Wild Tales is loose-limbed, rowdy and exhilarating" wrote Village Voice's Stephanie Zacharek on the the Argentinean film starring Ricardo Darín, Darío Grandinetti and Leonardo Sbaraglia.

Vulnerable before a reality that can suddenly be modified and become unpredictable, the characters of Wild Tales cross the thin line that divides civilization from brutality. A story about love deception, the return of the past, a tragedy, or even the violence contained in an everyday detail, appear themselves to push them towards the abyss, into the undeniable pleasure of losing control.

Szifron's feature film has been acquired for U.S. distribution by Sony Pictures Classic, so the ingredients are in the table for the film to make a big international splash. 

Participating in the Directors' Fortnight independent section, Diego Lerman's fourth feature film Refugiado was also received warmly by the press. In Refugiado, Matias and his mother Laura, find themselves forced to hurriedly abandon the house they live in to escape another outburst of violence from Fabian. Matias is 8 and Laura is newly pregnant. Thus they begin a wandering journey in search of a place they can feel safe and protected. They embark on an unusual road-movie of everyday life, a drama shot through with great humanity. Hollywood Reporter hailed it as a "poignant, admirably executed, and touchingly performed by its two leads."

Participating in the International Critics' Week parallel section as the only Latin American selection, was the Colombian-French production Gente de bien by Franco Lolli's. In the film Eric, 10, finds himself almost overnight living with Gabriel, his father, who he barely knows. The man has trouble keeping their heads above water and building a relationship with his son. Maria Isabel, the woman Gabriel works for as a carpenter, decides to take the child under her wing.

Last, but not least, the Argentinean film El ardor / Ardor by Pablo Fendrik was premiered out-of-competition in the official selection. Starring and produced by Mexican actor Gael García Bernal -who is also participating as a member of the jury this year, as a mysterious man who emerges from the Argentinean rainforest to rescue the kidnapped daughter (played by Brazilian actress Alice Braga) of a poor farmer after mercenaries murder her father and take over his property. The film received some lukewarm reviews from Variety and the Hollywood Reporter.

Additionally and even though it's not officially Latin American production, German director Wim Wenders premiered in Un Certain Regard his most recent film Salt of the Earth, a documentary celebrating the work of Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, which he co-directed with Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, the phorographer's son. Hailed as a "stunning visual ode" by Variety's Jay Weissberg, the film also received an enthusiastic standing ovation.

The awards for the 67th edition will be announced this weekend, we can only hope any of the above film productions will be awarded. 

Photos: FDC