The second edition of the Ecuadorian Film Festival in New York, EFFNY: One Ecuador! is hoping to build on last year’s inaugural outing by yet again showcasing the strong filmmaking work coming from the Latin American country. Presented by Maravilla, the New York-based organization dedicated to raising awareness of Latin America through films and the arts, EFFNY will be showcasing ten feature-length and 17 short films this year. The diversity of projects to be screened are a perfect example of the burgeoning growth the country’s cinema industry has experienced in the past decade.
If you need a reminder: Ecuador produced a total of four features in the ’90s. But ever since 2006, the government has made inroads to increase production and now they boast an average of 10-12 films a year, many of them traveling the world in festivals and championing a new voice in Latin American cinema. Darío Aguirre’s Cesar’s Grill, for example, played the Hamburg Film Festival, the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, and the Milwaukee Film Festival, before landing at last year’s EFFNY and winning the Jury Award for Best Film as well as the Audience Award; while the flick that tied Aguirre’s for the Jury Award — Tito Molina’s Silence in Dreamland — was eventually chosen as Ecuador’s Oscar submission in 2014, only the fourth film ever submitted by the country for that elusive golden statue.
Even with a competition lineup that may seem entirely modest in size compared to the larger festivals that play New York City, we figured you’d want to know the highlights of what you should catch at this year’s EFFNY. We’ve put together a list of Remezcla’s Top Picks that run the gamut from inspiring soccer docs to teenage coming of age tales.
The Ecuadorian Film Festival in New York runs June 2-5, 2016.
UIO: Sácame a pasear
Starting her senior year of high school, Sara is ready for adventure—especially as a way to break away from her overbearing mother. Enter: Andrea, her new schoolmate with whom she starts an intimate relationship that’ll force her to come to terms with herself. Boasting a pop-friendly soundtrack and a sun-dappled look at young love, Rueda’s film promises to be a lovely entry to the LGBT canon.
María y el araña
María is a thirteen year old girl who lives in a Buenos Aires shantytown with her grandmother and her rather shady partner. She’s a smart girl and she has it in her to succeed; perhaps leave her live of working at the subway. It’s there she meets a 17 year old boy who wears a Spider-Man costume and juggles for wages. Their sweet bond rattles her world and further reveals the uncomfortable life she’s been living at home.
A weekend getaway to her family’s old Colonial country home becomes a haunting experience for Sara, a 23 year old blind woman. Moving through the empty hallways of the house, repressed memories of when she lost her sight begin to flood back, turning what would have been a joyful visit to the Ecuadorian tropics, an eerie experience that is bound to titillate and terrify in equal regard.
Un secreto en la caja
Marcelo Chiriboga (1933-1990) was an Ecuadorian writer internationally known as member of the Latin American “boom” generation (the generation of Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Carlos Fuentes and Julio Cortázar). He remains unknown in his country to this day. That may have to do with his fictional origin but for Javier Izquierdo, the ironic gesture that birthed Chiriboga is an excuse to plumb Ecuador’s history and culture in this off-beat documentary that blurs reality and fiction.
Afro-descendants in Ecuador make up 5% of the country’s population. Yet more than half of the national soccer team is Afro-Ecuadorian from El Chota Valley. DreamTown looks into this fascinating statistic by telling the inspiring story of three young soccer players who chase success in the face of extraordinary challenges. In telling their story, the documentary gives voice to the current lives of Afro-Ecuadorians who are still struggling with poverty, racism, and neglect — it’s no surprise many see, as the film’s subtitle suggests, soccer as their ticket out.