ALUCINE TORONTO LATIN@ MEDIA FESTIVAL OPENING NIGHT PROGRAM (various directors) Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
The AluCine Latin@ Media Festival is suffering from an identity crisis. I'm all for the diversity suggested in the fest's programs, like Experimental China, Croatian Docs and Belgium and France. But how exactly are these "Latin@"?
That programming perplexity comes across in the fest's grab bag of opening night shorts (Friday, June 1), the best of which have nothing Latin American about them except the translated Spanish synopses in the AluCine program book.
Hossein Martin Fazeli's Tricko/T-Shirt is set in a corner store in Slovakia, where a half-American, half-Slovak customer bonds with the store clerk, who's displaying a U.S. flag on the wall and a T-shirt that seems to be saying something about God. This leads to some unexpected and darkly funny surprises about war, terrorism and nationhood. It's a tidy comment on U.S. sloganeering and cultural imperialism.
The other stand-out film is Luiso Berdejo and George C. Dorado's La Guerra/The War, a stylish film by two Spanish directors about a boy who tries to save his own life and his baby sister's during the second world war. The brutality of the situation comes out in matter-of-fact French narration, and the directors use elements of suspense, horror and even dark comedy to tell their story. The film's best line, about being "not very smart and armed," resonates, of course, today.
AluCine runs June 1 to 9 at NFB Mediatheque and Innis Town Hall.