'Festival with a conscience' shines light on LA struggles

September 1, 2013
'Tlatelolco, Summer of 68' revisits the the massacre of peaceful protesters in Mexico City before the 1968 Olympics.

From Mexican revolutionaries to Argentine street kids, Pinochet’s Chile to Mayan eco-warriors, the Eighth Sydney Latin American Film Festival shines the light on Latin America’s dark past as well as its ongoing struggle against corporate imperialism and environmental destruction.

From September 4 to 15, the festival screens 22 new-release feature films and documentaries from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, the US and Australia.

The festival runs across two Sydney venues — Dendy Opera Quays and Bankstown Arts Centre — and will also host fiestas, feasts, children’s events and visiting filmmakers.

Festival co-founder Mark Taylor said: “The core objective of the Sydney Latin American Film Festival is to program stories that convey resilience and hope over adversity — which echoes much of the history of Latin America.”

With a revolutionary fervour and widespread social discontent now sweeping through pre-World Cup and pre-Olympics Brazil, Carlos Bolado’s award-winning film Tlatelolco, Summer of 68 couldn’t be more timely.

A love story between two student activists from different social classes, this fast-paced historical drama revisits one of Latin America’s most notorious human rights abuses — the massacre of peaceful protesters at Tlatelolco, just 10 days before the 1968 Olympics opened in Mexico City.

Another film in this year’s festival which forces Latin America to reflect on its repressive, right-wing past is Esteban Larraín’s The Passion of Michelangelo.

This powerful Chilean film tells the true story of an orphan who was used as a political pawn by the Pinochet regime after the teenage boy claimed to be able to communicate with the Virgin Mary.

Documentaries have a strong presence in this year’s program, too.

This is also a festival with a conscience: the Sydney Latin American Film Festival is a non-profit organisation run by a team of passionate volunteers, and money raised from ticket sales will be donated to grassroots community development projects in Latin America.

Since 2006, the festival has raised more than $106,000 for more than 20 groups. This year, festival proceeds will go to the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination in Guyana as well as to Brazil's Instituto Raoni, which strives to preserve the culture and traditions of the indigenous Kayapo.

Visit www.sydneylatinofilmfestival.org for the full program, and times for every film.

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