National Gathering of Latin Canadian Filmmakers

Screening Program 1: Trailblazers (91 mins)

Curated by: Dr. Zaira Zarza

Thursday, May 11 – 7 PM

AdaX, 4001 Berri (Montreal)

Crucero/Crossroads (Ramiro Puerta 1994) 28 min. Fiction, Colombia.
An exploration of Latino identity and its representation in North America, the film centers on Guillermo Verdecchia’s two-stage personae, Guillermo, an Argentinian-born Toronto actor, and Wideload, an inflated stereotype designed to deflate stereotypes. Displaced from his history, surroundings and himself, Guillermo is caught between fixed borders and alienating cultures. At the same time, Wideload ponders “Saxonian” attitudes, examines myth and mysticism, and provides controversial lessons in language and dancing.

Niños (Carlos Ferrand 1974) 16 min. Fiction, Peru.
Shot on bright black and white 16mm, Niños relates a day in the life of four Andean boys as they experience school, work, and community relations. This project, filmed in Cuzco and Ollantaytambo, led to the creation of the film collective Liberación Sin Rodeos, integrated by Carlos Ferrand, Marcela Robles, Nenée Herrera, Pedro Neira and Raúl Gallegos.

Lentement (Marilu Mallet 1976) 27 min. Fiction, Chile. (National Film Board of Canada.)
Made by three Chilean filmmakers exiled in Quebec after the military coup, the feature Il n’y a pas d’oubli explores the difficult conditions of the Chilean community’s survival in the diaspora. Lentement (Slowly), the second short in the trilogy, follows Lucia, a young woman struggling to integrate into a new social environment as she deals with the traumatic memory of the coup.

Unbound (Claudia Morgado 1995) 20 mins Documentary, Chile.
Unbound is an act of physical defiance against societal expectations, reframing “the nude” and giving women control over their breasts. The film plays into the contradictions of female body politics in a whimsical and humorous way.

Cinemas of Resistance: Mapping Latinx-Canadian Stories

One of the main issues artists in the diaspora often face is a recurrent state of in-betweenness. A feeling of (non)belonging divided amongst multiple spatiotemporal dimensions: now and then, here, there, and elsewhere. Latinx-Canadian filmmakers are not foreign to this complex condition as they navigate life and labour in a country where colonial histories and waves of migration intertwine. The works of the filmmakers in this program reveal the myriad of interests, formats, genres, materialities, and subjectivities that inspire the members of this creative community. As cinemas of resistance, historically marginalized in the auteurs’ birthplace and host societies, these pieces are quests for selfness, collectivity, and new forms of citizenship.

This curatorial gesture aims to highlight the extraordinary achievement of filmmakers from the Latin American diaspora in Canada. Their stories allow us to establish meaningful connections in both our wide heterogeneity and shared histories of border crossing, displacement, adaptation, and integration. Although forcibly limited, this selection of films attempts to include the filmmakers’ relations to their roots and routes as they shoot in multiple languages, in their countries of origin, in Canada, and other locations. Nine Latin American countries are represented in thirteen short stories aesthetically moving from performing arts, to dance and video art, experimental, documentary, and fiction. Temporal and chronological, the structure of the two programs seeks to help map a history of Latinx-Canadian cinemas.

Program #1: TRAILBLAZERS shows the endeavours of four foundational artists that established the presence of this creative ethnocultural community in Canada over thirty years ago. Their legacy is crucial to understand where we position ourselves today. Program #2: NEW GENERATIONS celebrates a group of filmmakers making movies in the 21st Century. The program includes many early experimental pieces by filmmakers whose careers span the last ten to twenty years. Single-authored and co-directed films express complex relations with the homeland, the host land, other Latin American countries, and other diasporic communities in Canada. Overall, they deal with topics as diverse as systemic violence, ethnic diversities, women’s bodies, transgender activism, indigenous sovereignty, bi-racial couples, family traumas, the politics of place and space, and the challenges of migration itself.

At times, with the support of the cumbersome film financing system in Canada and, at times, bypassing it, these filmmakers have created powerful stories that still struggle to find audiences and screens. Conversations about the ethical archiving of the creative production of this diasporic community is also long over-due. The counter-archives these films represent need further sharing, repairing, and responsible stewardship. May the omissions, gaps and oversights in these programs be honoured in future encounters. May this first national gathering be the ideal setting for Latinx-Canadian filmmakers to get to know each other, expand our community’s networks, find larger audiences, incite future collaborations, and increase solidarities. In an era where discussions on identity politics have the potential to unite us and make us stronger, but also to divide us or pigeon-hole us, let this be fantastic opportunity to reinvent ourselves, reclaim the screens, be present and be heard.

Zaira Zarza
Montreal 2023

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