Another year of Latin American cinema has drawn to a close, with some of the more outstanding films finishing up their festival runs with a very special love letter from New York known as the Cinema Tropical Awards. Last night, the ceremony’s fifth edition once again brought together a passionate community of Latin American cinema folk — from filmmakers, to programmers, critics and fanatics — to give out the requisite laurels and fete the winning filmmakers, and in a much broader sense, to celebrate a region and its cinema as it closes in on nearly two decades of artistic maturity and global presence.
Masterminded by Cinema Tropical‘s commander-in-chief, Carlos Gutiérrez, and emceed by NY1 Noticias’ anchor Philip Klint, the ceremony brought a handful of the nominees — including Hatuey Viveros, Rodrigo Reyes, Yolanda Pividal, Carlos Sandoval, and Catherine Tambini — to the New York Times headquarters in midtown Manhattan for an evening of good-natured accolades accompanied by the requisite acceptance speeches and plastic wine glasses.
This year’s nominees, while unquestionable in their quality did feature a more reduced geographic spread than previous editions with powerhouse countries like Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico crowding out other, no doubt, worthy entrees. But this is all part of the natural ebb and flow of production in the region. Next year we can certainly expect serious contenders from up-and-comers like Colombia and Peru, or even some dark horses like the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.
Be that as it may, the real winner this week is Latin American cinema as a whole. With an ever-expanding diversity of styles and themes, the Cinema Tropical Awards is really just an opportunity for brothers in the cinema struggle to get together, pat each other on the back, and say, “We made it.”
For you New Yorkers, don’t miss out on the chance to see all of winning films during the Cinema Tropical Festival at the Museum of the Moving Image from February 6 – 8, 2015
Here are the winners…
Best Fiction Film
El lugar del hijo (The Militant)
Director: Manuel Nieto Zas
During a strike at his university, Ariel hears that his father has died. He is forced to return home to put financial affairs at his father’s ranch in order.
Best Director, Fiction Film
Film: El Rostro (The Face)
A man in a small boat reaches an island on the Paraná River. He heads towards a site where there used to be a house or small village. Now there is nothing. There are slight signs of something old and lost: the place where he was born.
Best Documentary Film
Café (Coffee, Chants of Smoke)
Director: Hatuey Viveros
Jorge is a young indigenous Mexican and is about to become the first person from his town to have a career as a lawyer. While cleaning and roasting coffee beans his family members discuss their everyday troubles.
Best Director, Documentary Film
Camila José Donoso and Nicolás Videla
Film: Naomi Campbel
Yermén is a transgendered woman in her thirties who works as a spiritual guide and tarot card reader. She also films her neighbors and the neighborhood’s stray dogs from her run-down apartment on the outskirts of Santiago.
Best First Film
Las niñas Quispe (The Quispe Girls)
Director: Sebastián Sepúlveda
Based on a true story that happened in 1974, the film tells the tale of sisters Justa, Lucia and Luciana Quispe who live a lonely life in the altiplano. While mourning the death of a sister, bad news arrives leaving them with existential doubts that will drive them to a tragic end.
Best U.S. Latino Film (tie)
Director: Cristina Ibarra
A documentary about an extraordinary rite of passage in Laredo, Texas where Mexican-American teenagers debut in a grand Colonial Ball dressed as American revolutionaries — a tradition that goes back 114 years.
Best U.S. Latino Film (tie)
Purgatorio: Journey Into the Heart of the Border
Director: Rodrigo Reyes
This compelling and provocative meditation on the Mexico-U.S. border presents the area as a Dante-esque place — beautiful, compelling, and brutal.