Bill Gates is a pretty good dude. Through his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, together with his wife, the tech mogul and archetypal nerd who grew up to rule the world, has turned his unfathomable fortune into a tool for social good, and effectively shown wealthy magnates across the world where they can shove their private jets. This year, in collaboration with the Sundance Institute, a small chunk of his billions even found its way into the hands of a few lucky filmmakers.
No, it’s not because he took pity on the starving artists of the world. Instead, as part of the second annual Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge, he invited starving artists to submit compelling stories about individuals overcoming extreme poverty, combating disease or somehow improving health in the world. Other than these basic guidelines, the competition was wide open for different stylistic approaches, and came with an impressive bounty of $10,000 and a free trip to Sundance for the five winning filmmakers.
The idea: “To start a conversation about the innovative solutions that real people are using to conquer these challenges.” Sounds like a great way to mix film, social responsibility and a little prize money. In addition, some more well known artists were asked to contribute their own stories to the showcase. One of those artists was Remezcla’s boyfriend, Gael García Bernal. Another one was Remezcla’s other boyfriend, Diego Luna. Plus, there’s another Remezcla fave, Marialy Rivas, the Chilean Director of Joven y Alocada.
Here are three Latin American films that made waves at this year’s Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge.
La Mano Visible
Director: Gael García Bernal
Making ironic reference to capitalist philosopher Adam Smith’s concept of the “invisible hand” of the market, García Bernal uses an understated story about a bartered haircut to lay into the spiritual poverty of a society in which goods are exchanged exclusively for money.
Watch La mano visible on vimeo by clicking here.
Director: Diego Luna
Invoking the story of his own nana, whom he credits with inspiring his political worldview, Luna’s short follows a woman on a seemingly endless commute from her humble home on the outskirts of Mexico City to a the wealthy urban estate where she works. In a subtle twist that reveals the deeply personal dimension of this piece, we see the child and woman genuinely overjoyed to see one another as they lock in a warm embrace.
Director: Marialy Rivas
Melody is a documentary from Chile that tells the story of a compassionate music teacher of humble origins who takes charge of a promising young violinist when her parents are forced to move up north in search of work. The simple, touching story reinforces the importance of music education in providing opportunities to children who wouldn’t otherwise have this type of outlet.