Cine las Americas

Passionate documentaries, visually poetic features, work by young directors and marginalized voices are all part of this year's Sixth Annual International Film Festival of the Americas.

Passionate documentaries, visually poetic features, work by young directors, and marginalized voices are all part of this year's sixth annual International Film Festival of the Americas. Organized by the Cine Las Americas Media Arts Center, the festival is a showcase of award-winning and hard-to-see films from across the Americas.

"Hard to see" may sound like a marketing gimmick, but acquiring films is no cakewalk, particularly when negotiating with international bureaucracies. Yet, some films are worth the effort, including this year's opening feature by Cuban filmmaker Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, Nada+ (Nothing More). Festival organizers were so excited about Nada+ that they moved the entire festival back a week for a chance to screen it, securing one of only two English-subtitled versions of the film available in the world. Central to Nada+ is Carla, a bored postal worker who creates romances when she begins revising letters that pass her workstation. Comparisons to the French hit Amélie are common.

"I think the comparison rises from the fact that the main characters are very different than [in] most films," Malberti said. "When we showed in Cannes, I noticed that about 80% of the film posters featured guns in them. Carla is similar to Amélie or to Dora in Central Station, in that they are people who help other people; they aren't struggling against others. These are different characters than the average in the movie industry."

Coincidentally, Nada+ was postproduced in the same studio where Amélie was completed three months earlier. There, technicians and artists commented on the similar artistic sensibilities of the films. Shot in black and white, Nada+ was painstakingly painted frame by frame, digitally and by hand. The result is all the more intriguing when one discovers that Malberti is colorblind.

"For me it was like a dream to be able to make this happen. I always knew that I wanted to paint over black-and-white film, not over color film because that would be a mess."

(Thanks to Eugenio Del Bosque for translating Malberti's remarks.)

Nada+ opens the sixth annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival of the Americas on April 23, 7pm, at the Alamo Drafthouse (409 Colorado). A festival schedule is online at, and see next week's Chronicle for complete coverage of the fest.

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Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, Nada+, Cine Las Americas

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