We live in a strange world: a world in which the nations of Latin America can produce Oscar winners, box-office busting popular comedies and shamelessly schlocky horror flicks as though Hollywood hadn’t actually dominated global film production for the better part of the last century. But that’s not the idea behind the Un Mundo Extraño Showcase at the upcoming 22nd annual San Diego Latino Film Festival. No, the idea is that our world isn’t as normal as we think, and the five films and seven shorts featured in the showcase deal with the unusual, the horrible, and the macabre in ways that reveal the dark mysteries lying beneath our reality.
Co-presented by the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival and the Film Geeks at the Digital Gym, Un Mundo Extraño will bring the San Diego area a horrific selection of recent genre fare from Argentina, Brazil, Peru and beyond, including a special screening of the Spanish-language version of 1931’s Dracula. From symbolic science fiction to zombie apocalypses to simmering psychological horror, this special series is just a taste of the diverse genre offerings coming out of the region, and will give you a few more reasons to sleep with the light on.
“He” seeks the elevation of his conscience through dreams and intuition. An enigmatic encounter with his soulmate, Ana, reveals symbols leading to a marked path. His journey through the Blue Desert is his chance to understand the purpose of life and the meanings of human experience. The imagined world in this modern and visually singular science fiction film is a barren and immaterial one; suggesting that in the future, the only way to find affirmation in one’s life is through transcendence.
The aftermath of a catastrophic zombie apocalypse leaves Ana, Jonathan, and Axel stranded inside a dilapidated bunker. Romantic relationships develop in this claustrophobic place; and an awkward dynamic between the three escalates, as Axel begins developing feelings for Ana. Further complicating matters is the arrival of a zombie that Jonathan and Axel have captured. The increasingly hostile living environment elicits savage instincts between the inhabitants, indicating that very little separates humans from zombies, in this fully imagined post-apocalyptic world.
In a future Argentina, the class divide has become so great that most people live desperate lives in the tunnels beneath the city like moles; while the elite live in comfort on the surface. One human mole, however, deceivingly makes his way into a surface dance academy, attempting to break free of the confines of his class. Topos defies categorization, choosing to supplement the class conflict themes with extremely stylish cinematography and art design. Director Emiliano Romero takes full advantage of the visual language of film to present an exaggerated and hallucinatory world.
In 1930, while Tod Browning was directing Bela Lugosi in Hollywood’s first horror talkie film, another cast and crew would take over the sets at night to shoot their own version of the same movie in Spanish. The cast and crew hailed from Spain, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. Mexican director Enrique Tovar Ávalos was uncredited in favor of his American co-director George Melford, who couldn’t speak Spanish. Since it was filmed at night after Tod Browning wrapped for the day, the Spanish version’s crew had access to dailies, which they were able to improve upon. The Spanish-language Drácula starring Lupita Tovar is considered vastly superior to the original by film critics.
Mercedes is an orphan who is desperate for work. In her desperation, she goes to work as a maid for the lonely, widowed Silvia, who lives a solitary existence in a rundown mansion. While there, she catches the eye of Jaime, a backpacker scraping by as a handyman. Unknown to both of them, however, is Silvia’s devious plan to get Mercedes pregnant, and then at all costs, to claim the baby as her own. This dark, twisted tale will leave you with a new perspective on family planning.