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Fowler’s Flix 12.05.18: Película independiente Latinoamericana!

Film Movement
Giovanny García and Reggie Reyes are a father and son of the run in the Venezuelan drama "La Famila."
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Maybe I am a little biased—okay, fully biased—but the films of Latin America willfully captivate me in a way few other films are capable to do anymore. From the imaginative new wave of fantasies and the darkest realms of horror, to the wish-fulfillment of dreams in dramas and the old-fashioned adaptations of classic telenovelas, point blank, these films have got more of what I want in the movies I watch.

My latest love in Latin film culture, however, has to be this current era in independent film, one that instead of trying to mimic Hollywood for a quick buck is instead interested in telling their own stories, usually from the streets and their attempts to either live in them or get out of them. They’re written with a gritty grace and filmed with a documental eye towards truth in every shot.

The brutally poignant lives of impoverished Caracans is unconventionally put on the screen by director Gustavo Rondon Cordova in the heartbreaking film La Familia (Film Movement). Living in the slums, where violence is seemingly an everyday part of life—even among the kids playing ball in the streets—young Pedro is a burgeoning tough who thinks he’s the baddest guy on the block. When he accidentally cuts a kid in self-defense, he only then finds out how tough he truly is.

The boy’s father Andres, knowing what painful retaliation is coming their way, grabs the kid and tries to go far away, but as the money runs out and Pedro’s attitude continually worsens, the father tries to hold his remaining family together as the danger becomes imminently clear. With brave performances by Giovanny Garcia and Reggie Reyes, this film explores the bond of father and son very rarely seen in circumstances like this.

Not so far removed are the real-life Mexican rappers featured in the enthralling documentary Somos Lengua: Fragments of Hip-Hop in Mexico (Kino Lorber). Following around various self-proclaimed “bad guys,” the film is a mesmerizing look at the influence of usually American hip-hop culture on the whole of not only another culture, but just how it mixes with their homeland to become almost a near new thing entirely of their own creation.

Featuring up-and-comers such as Serko Fu, Menuda Coincidencia and Tino El Pinguino, you’ll find the usual topics such as drugs, sex and murder in their lyrics, but sampled with a distinctive flair for Catholic guilt—and sometimes, the rejection of it—layered through their tunes. With very little opportunity left in their country, these performers believe that this just might be their only way out; Somos Lingua puts those dreams on the screen, exposing a new world to many who didn’t know it even existed.

Finally, from Chile comes the bizarrely touching La Madre, El Hijo y la Abuela (IndiePix), superbly directed by relative newcomer Benjamin Brunet. A treatise not only on family, but the bonds that make a family, Brunet captures the elegant terror of life after a volcanic eruption, trying to find things and put them back together—even people—that seem to be lost forever. A deft mixture of both fiction and documentary, each section of film is broken up to explain how familial love can form under even the most trying of consequences.

Additionally, much like La Familia and Somos Lengua, this film is from a true indie filmmaker, using and abusing popular tropes, all personalized for his (and his characters) lives on screen, mostly on a little less than a shoestring budget--but it completely works. They all completely work and, many times, pull off their jobs better than the now-popularized mass-media merchants of so-called modern indie film even attempts to do here.

Next week: Italian gore and so much more!

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About the Author

Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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