Abre los Ojos

Cine las Americas gets hip to Latin cinema's emergent talent

Nicolás Pereda's quest <i>Dónde están sus historias?</i>
Nicolás Pereda's quest Dónde están sus historias?

Every year, the long-running Cine las Americas International Film Festival selects an invited country from somewhere in the far-flung Spanish-speaking world to receive special attention at the festival. This year, timed to its bicentennial, Mexico enjoys favored-nation status, and all year, Cine las Americas has been running retrospectives celebrating the Golden Age of Mexican cinema –films by Emilio Fernández and Gabriel Figueroa and classic fright films from the Fifties. But during the festival, Cine las Americas Executive Director Eugenio del Bosque explains, they wanted to do something a little different – less classic, more cutting-edge. Enter Nicolás Pereda.

"He's 28, and he looks 25," says del Bosque by phone a couple of weeks before the 13th annual festival is set to start. "He's a new and emergent talent that practically nobody knows, and he's a Mexican filmmaker with four features under his belt that is creating all this buzz internationally and is probably not what you would expect out of a Mexican cinema program."

Cine las Americas is devoting a special program to the young filmmaker, who has shot four super-low-budget features in half as many years. In an essay for the Cine las Americas program book, Robert Koehler says of Pereda's body of work that "each with its own thrusts, quirks, obsessions and concerns ... flow[s] together and interconnect, forming by the end of viewing a kind of gestalt" –one that Koehler likens to Austin resident Andrew Bujalski, among other contemporary, international filmmakers. The festival's focus on Pereda, whose films have never shown locally, marks both a canny awareness of a star on the rise and a programming coup for Cine las Americas.

The festival will devote another sidebar to short films coming out of the Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión de San Antonio de los Baños, Cuba, or EICTV, the prestigious filmmaking school located just outside of Havana. It's incredibly rare –not to mention logistically complicated –for a stateside festival to put on this kind of showcase.

"They never know when they're going to have e-mail or not have e-mail. The school owns the films, not the directors," says del Bosque. "We had to do coordination – somebody traveling with DVDs out of Cuba and being able to put it in the mail for us, and then we had to get screening copies from them, which we were able to pick up in Mexico."

The manner of delivery certainly is dramatic, but del Bosque is confident about the high quality of the shorts, which are all thesis films made by the school's international student body. As del Bosque puts it, they are, quite simply, "filmmakers to keep an eye on."

Cine las Americas runs April 21-29 at venues around town, including the Mexican American Cultural Center (600 River), Metropolitan (South I-35 at Stassney), and Alamo Drafthouse South (1120 S. Lamar). For more information, including lineup, schedule, and admission costs, visit www.cinelasamericas.org.

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Cine las Americas, Eugenio del Bosque, Nicolás Pereda, Robert Koehler, Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión de San Antonio de los Baños, EICTV, Emilio Fernández, Gabriel Figueroa

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