The Films 2007

Still image from the filmCocalero

Alejandro Landes
Bolivia/Ecuador/Argentina, 2006, 86 min. 

Recently, the U.S. has directed its war on drugs against Bolivian coca-growing regions, and the Bolivian government has attempted to eradicate coca crops, devastating the livelihood of Indigenous people who cultivate it. In response, the farmers formed a powerful union. Their leader is the Aymara Indian Evo Morales, and in 2005 this unwavering, unpretentious socialist made an historic bid for the presidency. A lively story about geopolitics, people's movements, Indigenous culture, and one man's impressive determination, Cocalero closely follows Evo's campaign, getting up close and personal with the candidate and the union organization backing him, while presenting critical views of both. Cocalero offers fresh insight into big political changes afoot in Latin America.


Still image from the filmFotografías

("Photographs")
Andrés Di Tella 
Argentina, 2007, 105 min.

This is a personal essay about my mother, based on a box of photographs my father passed on to me. A documentary investigation involving a journey to the past and also a real one from Argentina, where I live, to the place where she was born and which she wanted to forget: India. While I try to solve the mysteries in my mother’s story, going from one place and one unexpected encounter to the next, the twists and turns of the journey reveal something more – the discovery of my own hidden identity. –Andrés Di Tella


Still image from the film¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

Santiago Álvarez
Cuba, 1967, 19 min.

¡Hasta la victoria siempre! is one of the most exemplary films of Santiago Alvarez's prolific career. The brief film, completed in October of 1967, concerns the circumstances that led to Che Guevara's death at the conclusion of his failed Bolivian guerrilla campaign. It is a pure distillation of the highly unusual conditions of production that shaped Alvarez's filmmaking practice. “Give me two photographs, a moviola, and a piece of music; I'll give you a movie!”


Still image from the filmOur Brand is Crisis

Rachel Boynton
USA, 2005, 87 min. 

A fascinating look at the involvement of James Carville’s consulting firm in Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada’s 2002 presidential campaign in Bolivia. The film starts with bloody riots breaking out in the streets of La Paz, with people throwing stones at the presidential palace as they call for the government's downfall. Flashing back a year, we begin to see the events that led to the bloody tragedy.  Sánchez de Lozada (“Goni”) is on the campaign trail, promising to solve Bolivia 's devastating economic crisis if he is elected.  With unprecedented access to think sessions, media training and the making of smear campaigns, the film follows the detailed media coaching with the candidate, allowing us to watch how the consultants’ marketing strategies shape the relationship between a leader and his people.  


Still image from the filmSantiago

João Moreira Salles
Brazil, 2006, 80 min.

In 1992, João Moreira Salles started making a film about Santiago, the butler who had been working for his parents since his childhood. Thirteen years later, Salles looked back at the unused material on the now deceased flamboyant servant. From these images, Salles made a documentary about an extraordinary man who, in addition to his demanding work for the prosperous family, was equally conscientious in dealing with his past time: collecting, arranging, interpreting and documenting information about the history of all great and well-to-do families in the world. Through Santiago's detailed memories and erudite contemplations and the director's voice-over, the film reflects on identity, memory and the nature of documentaries. The old footage - often repeated takes, provided with stage directions, of scenes that were shot in Santiago's kitchen, or in front of the bookcase where he kept his life's work, bound together with a special ribbon - is in black-and-white, which enhances the nostalgic character of the film. During the course of the documentary, Salles gradually finds out why this is his only unfinished film.


Still image from the filmEl telón de azúcar

("The Sugar Curtain")
Camila Guzmán
France-Cuba, 2006, 80 min.

This is an autobiographic documentary on the generation of Cubans born and raised in the golden years of the Revolution. Camila Guzmán Urzua goes back to Cuba after years of exile to remember her early childhood and to figure out what happened to her generation who used to live with ideals and became disappointed as they came of age. What’s left when utopia has not only been unfulfilled, but it’s also becoming doubtful that it ever really existed? Although she implements the “first person diary” format, and even though she doesn’t pretend to deliver truths she herself can’t be certain of, The Sugar Curtain shows much more than it says, as it deploys its intelligent, watchful eye over the present and the history of the Cuban Revolution.