National Gathering of Latin Canadian Filmmakers

Screening Program 2: New Generations (82 mins)

Curated by: Dr. Zaira Zarza

Friday, May 12 – 5 PM

Salle Clark – Maison du développement durable (Montreal)

Ante mis ojos (Lina Rodríguez 2018) 7 min. Experimental, Colombia. (Rayon Vert)
Shot on grainy, amber-like Super 8, Lina Rodríguez’s elusive and evocative Ante mis ojos offers a fragmentary glimpse of Colombia’s mythic Lake Guatavita, long considered the inspiration for the legend of El Dorado.

Song for Cuba (Tamara Segura 2014) 7 min. Fiction, Cuba. (National Film Board of Canada.)
This short experimental documentary about memory and music follows a young Cuban couple charting a new course for their lives on an island in the North Atlantic. The film features original music by Patrick Boyle and Cuban popular songs “Preferi Perderte” by Benny Moré and “Suavecito” by Ignacio Piñeiro.

A Time to Dwell #1 (Katherine Jerkovic 2006) 10 min. Experimental, Uruguay-Argentina.
Filmed along the northern coast of the Saint Lawrence River, this piece is part of an audiovisual series that meditates on migration and the coastal landscape, as it reveals the limits of the frame and the image as an ellipse in space.

Burnt (Alejandro Valbuena 2009) 14 min. Fiction, Colombia. (Aluna Films)
Triggered by a father’s actions within a traditional nuclear family, courage and despair are expressed through the performance of the dancing bodies in Burnt. Based on a real-life story, the film is a monochromatic portrait that recounts events told by a lover’s voice.

Presidio Modelo (Pablo Álvarez Mesa 2008) 16 min. Experimental Documentary, Colombia.
Presidio Modelo explores the idea of historical figures as monuments and the tension between a social justice revolution and the prison system linked to it. The walls of Cuba’s Presidio Modelo crumble, revealing a past covered by layers of thick yellow paint. When left unvisited, pain turns into amnesia, and history cannot absolve everything.

Pink Girl – Sao Paulo (Sarah Shamash 2010) 4 min. Experimental, Brazil.
Shot on Avenida Paulista in the heart of São Paulo, this video reflects a moment of limbo and escape into a fantastic pink girl dance reality as her street performance generates unexpected interactions with passers-by. Pink Girl-Sao Paulo furthers a collaboration between artist Sarah Shamash and dancer/choreographer Toshiko Oiwa.

Silvia in the Waves (Gio Olmos 2017) 13 Minutes. Fiction, Mexico.
Noa struggles to honor the identity of his recently deceased parent while his mother tries to uphold the appearance of a conventional family. Grief and fantasy entwine to reveal the complex relationship between history and erasure, identity, and memory.

The Sweater (Jean-Pierre Marchant 2021) 5 min. Documentary, Argentina-Chile.
The Sweater blends 16mm hand-processed film with found footage and video to explore childhood memories triggered by finding the last thing my deceased father gave me. Using short vignettes, I tell several stories that defined our relationship with each other and how the world shaped us both.

Do I Have Boobs Now? (Milena Salazar & Joella Cabalu 2017) 6 min. Documentary, Costa Rica.
In 2015, Victoria-based trans activist Courtney Demone launched the viral online campaign #DoIHaveBoobsNow. She posted topless photos of her transition on social media while undergoing hormone replacement therapy. One year later, Courtney revisits the global conversation she catalyzed on social media censorship policies and the sexualization of feminine bodies and reflects on the impacts of being thrust into the critical spotlight as a visible trans activist and queer feminist.

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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