FOR THE first time, seven Latin American countries have banded together to present the best of their cinematic exploits with CineLatino: The Latin American Film Festival which will run from Dec. 6 to 10 at the Shang Cineplex of Shangri-La Plaza Mall in Mandaluyong City.

“This was a joint initiative [from the seven countries],” said Brazilian ambassador Rodrigo do Amaral Souza during a press conference on Nov. 23.

“We have previously done national film festivals but we arrived at the conclusion that together [a film festival] will make the impact greater and deeper,” said Mr. Amaral Souza adding that the film festival was the idea of Roberto Bosch, the ambassador of Argentina to the Philippines.

The festival will feature 11 films from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela.

“It was too much to organize [national film festivals] by ourselves so [we decided to] share the burden to colleagues,” noted Mr. Bosch before adding the Latin American countries want their common cultural identities to be presented to the Philippines, as it is a region “with a lot of similarities with the Philippines.”

The films to be presented during the five-day run include Argentina’s El hijo de la novia, (2001) directed by Juan Jose Campanella, a story about a man who is having a crisis and tries to reconstruct his past and look at the present in a new perspective.

Also from Argentina is Esperando la Carroza (1985) by Alejandro Doria, a comedy about a woman who tries to help her son, but unfortunately everything she does, she does wrong.

From Brazil comes Cidade de Deus (2002) by Fernando Meirelles, about a 1960s era housing project which became a dangerous place in Rio de Janeiro. Meanwhile, 2 Filhos de Francisco, (2005) by Breno Silveira, tells the rags-to-riches story of two poor rural boys who grew up to become one of Brazil’s biggest sertanejo (“country music”) singers.

Chile will present Marcelo Ferarri’ Subterra (2003), about a workers’ uprising that took place in what was, at the time, the largest coal mine in the world.

Colombia puts comedy and drama front and center with Andres Burgos’s Sofia y el Terco (2012), which tells the story of the titular character and her husband. After living lives of tedious repetition for years in the countryside, Sofia decides to go on a trip and leave her husband to fend for himself as she tries to fulfill a long-held dream.

Mexico presents Bernardo Arellano’s El Comienzo del Tiempo (2014), about an elderly couple who find themselves in deep trouble when pensions are suspended due to social and financial crisis. The lives of the couple change when their son and grandson reappear.

Mexico will also present a series of six short films: Porcelana, a struggle between childhood fantasy and reality; Carreteras, about a two-day romance; Mirar atras, a confrontation with an aunt’s ghost; O ser un elefante, an eight-minute film about an obsession with the personality of elephants, who, they say, never forget; Papalotes rosas, about two small girls who see a little more of reality while their father figure falls apart; and, Aun nos queda el recuerdo, a spoken portrait of the world of cinema of the past.

Panama, meanwhile, presents Abner Benaim’s El Chance (2009), a comedy about two housekeepers for a noble family who decide to take control of the mansion when the family goes on vacation.

Finally, Venezuela presents two films: Marcel Rasquin’s Hermano (2010), about two football player brothers whose wish to go professional has been stymied, and Alejandro Garcia Wiedemann’s Patas Arriba (2011), about an elderly man who tries to teach his granddaughter the importance of simple things, the value of friendship and respect towards the other views of people.

CineLatino: The Latin American film festival runs from Dec. 6 to 10 at the Shang Cineplex, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. For inquiries, call 370-2500 local 597, visit, or any of its official social media pages. — Zsarlene B. Chua