Maravilla, the New York-based organization dedicated to raising awareness of Latin America through films and the arts has announced the third edition of the Venezuelan Film Festival in New York (VEFFNY), which will take place September 23-27 at the Village East Cinema, with the attendance of many of the featured filmmakers and actors.
Launched in 2013, VEFFNY is committed to showing the very best of the new Venezuelan cinema to local audiences and it has been successful in attracting international attention for Venezuelan films. The festival goes hand on hand with the exciting renaissance of Venezuelan cinema, which has fostered the careers of numerous filmmakers who present diverse views of the South American country.
Testament to this film resurgence is the prominent international film prizes awarded to recent Venezuelan releases, as well as the record-breaking numbers at the domestic box office for local productions. In the past couple of years, two Venezuelan films have won major prizes for the first time: Mariana Rondón’s Bad Hair won the top prize at the San Sebastian for Best Film, and Miguel Ferrari’s My Straight Son was the winner for the Goya Award for Best Ibero-American Film.
Last year, Alberto Arvelo’s epic saga The Liberator was shortlisted to the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film –the first time for a Venezuelan film– and Lorenzo Vigas’s Desde Allá will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in a few days, marking the first time a Venezuelan production participates in the main competition for the Golden Lion.
"We are one of the few countries where film production is increasing, not only in quantity level production but also quality–both technically and artistically–and we’re in the process of reconquering domestic audiences to go see our local productions. I believe that this new era of Venezuelan film making is due in grand part to the role played by state institutions (like the Centro Nacional Autónomo de Cinematografia CNAC, la Villa del Cine, Cinemateca Nacional and Amazonia Films) not only in the form of financial support but also in training and access to technology,” she adds.
With a selection of 17 feature films, 15 of them in competition, VEFFNY -presented by CITGO Petroleum Corporation- offers some of the most acclaimed and popular recent productions from Venezuela, most of them in their U.S. premiere. In its third edition, VEFFNY will present two awards. A jury composed of three renowned film professionals will present the award for Best Film, and the public attending the screenings will vote for the Audience Award.
The festival will opens with the U.S. Premiere of the drama The Deserter (pictured left), the debut feature by Raúl Chamorro set in 1980 and framed by the beauty of the Venezuelan Andes. The story follows two young lovers who must overcome the toughest challenges to defend their love. The lineup also includes the dark comedy 3 Beauties (pictured top left) by Carlos Caridad-Montero, which offers a satirical and poignant take on Venezuela’s obsession with beauty pageants and plastic surgery through the story of Perla, who is obsessed with having a beauty queen in the family and she is willing to do whatever it takes to make her dream come true.
VEFFNY will also feature the New York Times Critics’ Pick Bad Hair by Rondón. Hailed as a “strong, moving film” (Los Angeles Times), the poignant drama offers a compelling depiction of a mother-son power struggle in a fatherless family. Other highlight includes Claudia Pinto’s assured debut feature The Longest Distance (pictured above right), winner of the Platino Award for Best First Film, which according to Variety is “successfully tempered by well-drawn characters, engaging performances and a convincingly rooted storyline.”