Corto Circuito Brings a Buffet of Bite-Sized Latino Films to New York

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It may seem like film festivals are a dime a dozen these days, and it can be hard to tell one ultra-official sounding “international film festival” from the next; but for any film event to make it to the 13 year mark, you know they’ve got to be doing something right. In the case of Corto Circuito, that something may have to do with the unique niche they’ve carved out for themselves: year after year, the self-described Latino Short Film Festival of New York has opened up a unique space for short form content that keeps its finger on the pulse of young Latin American creators like no other.

This year, for its lucky 13th edition, Corto Circuito will once again bestow the Big Apple with nearly four-dozen short films from 15 countries, covering a wide range of topics that amount to a deep dive into contemporary Latin American reality, while preserving an important space for US Latino expressions. Running across a number venues in Manhattan, this year’s official selection brings the same exceptional pedigree we’ve come to expect from Corto Circuito, with big winners from important festivals like Clermont Ferrand, Cartagena, Biarritz, and Havana.

One of the more compelling US projects comes from Mexican-born filmmaker Brenda Avila-Hanna, who has followed up on a few successful shorts with her latest project, Libertad. The 10-minute documentary follows Alejandra: a transgender activist from Oaxaca who has made her life in the United States after fleeing prejudice in her small hometown. Avila-Hanna picks up Alejandra’s story just as she is returning home for the first time since her transition, but more than just a personal reconnection with the place of her birth, Alejandra has vowed to use her knowledge and experience to give back to the community.

From Brazil comes a fascinating animation titled Konãgxeka: O Dilúvio Maxakali, which dramatizes a Maxakalí indigenous myth from the state of Minas Gerais. According to Maxakalí folklore, yãmîy spirits sent a great flood to the earth to punish man for his arrogance, and Konãgxeka employs simple yet colorful two-dimensional drawings to bring this story to vivid life. Adding an important touch of authenticity, the drawings were made in collaboration with members of the Maxakalí community in a workshop carried out at the Aldeia Verde village in Minas Gerais.

And finally, Colombian director Andrés Ramírez Pulido’s third short El Edén makes its way to New York after being featured as an official selection at the prestigious Berlinale earlier this year. The 20-minute fictional narrative employs a probing, documentary-style camera as it follows two friends who they mull over the ruins of an abandoned spa hidden deep in the tropical thicket, pondering the memories contained in its walls and the lingering reverberations of violence.

Corto Circuito runs in New York City November 16-19, 2016. All screenings are free. See the full program here.