From Guerillas to Beauty Queens: 5 Must-See Movies at Panama International Film Festival LA

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Hoping to shed a light on its burgeoning film industry, Viva Panama Organization (VPO) and NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) have announced the launch of the first annual Panama International Film Festival LA. For its launch, they’ve nabbed Justine Pasek, Miss Universe 2002, who will be at the Inauguration Reception and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony.

Taking place in Los Angeles this weekend, the festival will feature works by up-and-coming filmmakers. This year, the films selected tackle the world of beauty pageants, the suppressed history of a key figure in Panamanian history, and the vexing relationship the Central American country has with the United States.

The Panama International Film Festival LA takes place on Saturday, November 21, 2015 at the AT&T Center in Los Angeles.


Caja 25

Delfina Vidal, Mercedes Arias

Caja 25 (Box 25) surveys the major events in the troubled relationship between Panama and the United States, focusing on 114 recently discovered letters written by Panama Canal diggers, which describe brutal working conditions, rampant discrimination, and enduring hope. Making elegant use of archival documents, photographs and films, as well as contemporary interviews, Box 25 brings these lost voices back to life, reminding us of our diverse history and of the sacrifices made to make a dream a reality.

Joaneska Grossl
Delfina Vidal, Mercedes Arias



Ana Endara Mislov

Reinas focuses on the complex world of festival queen competitions, an integral part of Panamanian folklore. Following and interviewing women who spend plenty of money, time and effort in the hopes of becoming reinas, Endara Mislov’s documentary shows how these pageants at once promote an aspirational vision for many young girls, all the while instilling a potentially troubling image of womanhood.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Pilar Moreno, Ana Endara Mislov


Héroe transparente

Orgun Wagua

Wagua’s documentary follows the life of Victoriano Lorenzo, who successfully waged guerilla warfare against the central government in Panama in the early 1900s. By looking back to this oft-forgotten figure, Héroe transparente excavates the very beginnings of modern Panama. Lorenzo, who had been instrumental in the conflict that led to the 1902 Peace Treaty, was arrested and sentenced to death the same year Panama celebrated its independence from Colombia.

Synopsis By: Manuel Betancourt
Maricarmen Castillo, Enrique Singh


Los trapos sucios se lavan en casa

Abner Benaim

This hilarious comedy tells the story of Toña and Paquita, housekeepers for the aristocratic González-Dubois family. After years of mistreatment they decide to get even. When the family plans a shopping trip to Miami, the maids make a plan of their own; to take control of the mansion. Unexpectedly, they discover a family secret.

Papús Von Saenger, Abner Benaim
Paula Jaramillo, Matthias Ehrenberg, Abner Benaim


Let Me Finish

Carlos Carrasco

Written in collaboration with his co-star, Kent Minault, Carlos Carrasco’s short film, Let Me Finish examines the lengths to which individuals will go in search of basic companionship.

Synopsis By: Remezcla Estaff
United States
Short Film, Comedy, Drama
Carlos Carrasco, Kent Minault
Norma Galeana