August 17, 2001

Sundance Channel Showcases Dynamic Voices of Contemporary Latin American Cinema With September Filmfest "Arte Latino"



(L) Adrián Castilla as Sammy and (R) Daniella Ropert as Daniella in Sergio Castilla's "Te Amo" (Made in Chile).

Sundance Channel celebrates the richness and vitality of contemporary Latin American cinema in September with its second "Arte Latino" FilmFest. Recent years have seen Latin America re-emerge as a significant force in international cinema; production has increased across the region, and a number of filmmakers have begun to explore the creative potential of new and developing technologies. "Arte Latino" samples from Latin American cinema's diverse artistic currents to bring viewers an up-to-the-moment array of exceptional films by established and emerging filmmakers. The Film Fest's lineup includes seven features and nine short films, representing Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador and Mexico.

Said Liz Manne, Executive Vice President, Programming and Marketing, "We are very excited about this year's Arte Latino' focusing on contemporary Latin American cinema. The filmmakers represented here bring an amazing energy and breadth of vision to their work; every inch of the frame is part of a fully imagined world. With `Arte Latino,' we hope to give viewers a feel for the bold, original work that's being created throughout Latin Amer-ica."

"Arte Latino" showcases several critically acclaimed films in their U.S. television premieres, including two standouts from the 2001 Sundance Film Festival. International filmmaker Sergio M. Castilla returned to his native Chile to make Te Amo (Made in Chile), a vibrant and moving coming-of-age story set within the multi-cultural, middle-class milieu of Santiago's Generation Y. Castilla's son Adrián stars as Sammy, a linely half-American, half-Chilean teen whose parents divorced when he was eight. As summer vacation begins, Sammy and three friends from Santiago's English high school transform an abandoned villa into a private hideaway, customizing their "rooms" and making video movies for entertainment. Gradually, however, it is revealed that each teen harbors an awful secret; over the course of summer vacation, the friends' natural hunger for connection and acceptance will force those secrets into the open. With its unforced dialogue, vivid performances and fluid camerawork (including DV footage shot by the young cast), Te Amo (Made in Chile) is a stunning slide of adolescent life. The Amo (Made in Chile) premieres on September 14th at 9:00 p.m. and also airs on September 22nd at 12:00 a.m. ET/PT.

Argentine filmmaker José Luis Marqués' darkly comic F**kland was one of the most provocative entries of the 2001 Sundance film Festival; it is also the first Latin American film to be shot according to the Dogme 95 manifesto. Shot in DV, F**kland is styled as the clandestine video diary of Fabián (Fabián Stratas), an Argentine visitor to the Falkland Islands. Fabián, however, is no ordinary tourist; he has traveled on a mission to reclaim the disputed territory for his homeland by impregnating the women of the Falklands in an effort to repopulate the islands with Argentineans. Marqués deftly weaves cinéma vérité footage of actual islanders into the film's fictitious narrative, which chronicles Fabian's seduction of the likeable Camila (Camila Heaney); the result is a bold conflation of reality and illusion that is by turns funny, raw and startling. F**kland premieres on September 7th at 9:00 p.m. and also airs on September 12th at 9:00 p.m. and the 16th at 11:00 p.m.

Veteran Mexican director Arturo Ripstein created one of the boldest, most imaginative works of his distinguished career with Such Is Life (Así es la vida), which won the FIPRESCI Award and Special Jury Prize at the 2000 Havana Film Festival. The film updates the Medea legend to the slums of modern Mexico to tell the tragic story of Julia (Arcelia Ramírez), an alternative healer who is betrayed by her boxer husband. Shot on DV in a mere three weeks, Such Is Life is filled with inspired details (including the traditional Greek chorus recast as a television mariachi trio), and laced with Ripstein's characteristic black humor. Reviewing the film when it screened at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival, Variety critic Leonardo Garcia Tsao declared that the director was "working at the top of his form... Ripstein goes for broke and reinvents his style, while pursuing his usual themes of love gone bad and the woeful designs of destiny." "Arte Latino" offers another look at this extraordinary talent when Ripstein guests on a new episode of Sundance Channel's "Conversations in World Cinema," premiering September 6th at 8:30 p.m. Such Is Life premieres on September 13th at 9:00 p.m. and also airs on September 16th at 12:30 a.m.

Representing a new wave of Cuban filmmakers is Gerardo Chijona, whose effervescent sex face A Paradise Under the Stars (Un Paraiso bajo las estrellas) won the Audience Award at the 1999 Havana Film Festival and went on to charm audiences at the 2000 Sundance Film Festival. Set against the glamorous backdrop of Havana's Tropicana nightclub, the film follows the increasingly bizarre travels of Sissy (Thais Valdes), who defies her macho truck driver father to audition for a slot at the fabled club. What Sissy doesn't know is that her father has quite a history of his own at the Tropicana, a legacy that creates enormous complications for sissy and her new boyfriends, the dreamy Sergito (Vladimir Cruz). Combining screwball antics with sly satire and dazzling production numbers, A Paradise Under the Stars delivers enjoyment on a multitude of levels. A Paradise Under the Stars (Un Paraiso bajo las estrellas) premieres on September 9th at 9:00 p.m. and also airs on September 21st at 12:00 a.m. ET/PT.

Rounding out the U.S. television feature premieres is Argentine filmmaker Daniel Burman's perceptive comedy/drama Waiting for the Messiah (Esperando al Mesías). Set in Buenos Aires, the film limns the impact of a bank's failure on the lives of two different men: Ariel (Daniel Hendler), the son of a Jewish restaurateur who longs to escape the yoke of family responsibility; and Santamaría (Enrique Pineyro), a bank teller who suddenly finds himself both jobless and homeless. The recipient of numerous film festival honors, Waiting for the Messiah was developed at the Sundance Institute's Latin American Lab. Waiting for the Messiah (Esperando al mesías) premieres on September 10th at 9:00 p.m. and also airs on September 16th at 9:00 p.m. and the 22nd at 4:30 p.m.



Sandra Arau Exquivel as Alejandra in her own "La Mirada de la Ausencia (Dream On).

"Arte Latino" also features a generous selection of short films from several Latin American nations. Making its U.S. television premiere is the award-winning La Mirada de la Ausencia (Dream On) by Mexican filmmaker and actress Sandra Arau Esquivel (daughter of noted novelist Laura Esquivel and filmmaker Alfonso Arau). Imaginative and witty, La Mirada de la Ausencia is narrated by Alejandra (played by a succession of actresses, including Esquivel), who describes her lifelong search for Prince Charming. What follows is a hilarious roll call of misbegotten candidates that starts with a preschool bully and goes downhill from there. By the time the film reaches its exuberant finale, Alejandra has gotten a better idea. La Mirada de la Ausencia is part of "Latino shorts II", which airs on September 16th at 8:00 p.m., September 20th at 3:30 p.m., and September 25th at 1:00 a.m.

Additional films airing as part of "Arte Latino" include Mercedes García Guevara's Hidden River (Rio Escondido) (Argentina), a poetic tale of a woman's journey of self-discovery, which airs on September 15th at 9:00 p.m.; Carlos Bolado's Under California: The Limit of time (Bajo California: El Limite del tiempo) (Mexico), a luminous road movie that won Mexico's equivalent of the Academy Award, the Golden Ariel, in 1999, which airs on September 11th at 9:00 p.m. Short films include Day to Day (Todo día Todo); Fidel; News for Man-uela on the Death of Bolivar, The Road to the Coast (El Camino a la costa); El Rio; Siesta; The Tortured Clown; and White Noise (Sonido Blanco).

Under the creative direction of Robert Redford, Sundance Channel brings television viewers daring and engaging feature films, shorts, documentaries, world cinema and animation, show uncut and with no commercials. Through its original programs, Sundance Channel connects viewers with filmmakers, the creative process, and the world of independent film. Launched in 1996, Sundance Channel is a venture between Robert Redford, Showtime Networks Inc., and Universal Studios. Sundance Channel operates independently of the non-profit Sundance Institute and the Sundance Film Festival, but shares the overall Sundance mission of supporting independent artists and providing them with wider opportunities to present their work to audiences. Sundance Channel's website address is www.sundancechannel.com.

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