Last year, a Venezuelan film picked up top prize at the Venice Film Festival, and another just got the biggest theatrical releases ever for a Latin American film in North America. It’s this thriving film industry that the fourth edition of the Venezuelan Film Festival in New York (VFNNY) will be celebrating in theaters across Manhattan and Brooklyn later this month.
The festival will be screening Venice Golden Lion winner Desde allá (From Afar), the country’s Oscar submission for Best Foreign Language film, but it will be opening with El malquerido. Diego Risquez’s film centers on Felipe Pirela, “the bolerista de América.” The glossy biopic on the singer is sure to earn Pirela a legion of new fans once audiences see Venezuelan pop star Jesús “Chino” Miranda performing his old boleros on screen.
If your musical tastes lean more towards 90s grunge than mid-century boleros, you won’t want to miss Una Fábula Muy Trillada, by William Padrón. The music documentary goes all Behind the Music on the creation of one of the most influential rock albums in Venezuela: Dermis Tatú’s 1995 classic “La Violó, La Mató y La Picó.” Bonus: the film includes performances by a new generation of Venezuelan rockers reimagining the iconic record, stressing its lasting impact.
Homeland fans should be sure to catch Barrio vertical (Vertical Slum). The socio-political documentary focuses on the Torre David, the unfinished skyscraper-turned-slum in Caracas that served as the backdrop for that Showtime series’ season three storyline. For those looking for lighter fare, the festival will also be showing the rom-com Amor cuesta arriba (Uphill Love) as well as the heart-pounding criminal thriller Los 8-6, set in the wild days of 1980s Caracas.
And that doesn’t even cover the 16 short films being showcased. They include an animated take on the friendship between a homeless man and a chicken, an uplifting tale of two boys with down syndrome, a dream-like narrative about repressed sexuality, and a nature doc on the Churún river. So mark your calendars, folks, cause this Venezuelan film invasion only comes around once a year.
The Venezuelan Film Festival in New York runs September 14-18, 2016. See website for screening times and locations.