House Logo
Explore categories +

Natalia Almada (#110 of 2)

Los Angeles Film Festival 2011: Las Malas Intenciones, El Velador, 108, Paraiso for Sale, Unfinished Spaces, & Medianeras

Comments Comments (...)

Los Angeles Film Festival 2011: <em>Las Malas Intenciones</em>, <em>El Velador</em>, <em>108</em>, <em>Paraiso for Sale</em>, <em>Unfinished Spaces</em>, & <em>Medianeras</em>
Los Angeles Film Festival 2011: <em>Las Malas Intenciones</em>, <em>El Velador</em>, <em>108</em>, <em>Paraiso for Sale</em>, <em>Unfinished Spaces</em>, & <em>Medianeras</em>

A film festival is animated by an ethos ostensibly controlled by its programmers, but inevitably influenced by the city the festival calls home. So what drives the Los Angeles Film Festival, now in its 17th year? If there’s any place in the world that’s instantly associated with the movies, it’s Los Angeles, and yet the city lacks an agenda-setting festival like Sundance, Cannes, or Toronto. Perhaps it’s a testament to how thoroughly the Hollywood juggernaut dominates the agenda in every other sense. Nevertheless, Film Independent continues to foster a local festival culture with the LA Film Fest, showcasing a variety of emerging talents both domestic and international.

There are a number of intriguing threads running through the festival, and one of them is its strong focus on Latin American cinema. It’s undoubtedly influenced by the position of Los Angeles as an international hub, home to a diverse host of immigrant populations and so neighborly close to Mexico. A slate of films from Latin America runs the gamut from intensive political-structural critique to heartfelt personal drama.

New Directors/New Films 2011: El Velador

Comments Comments (...)

New Directors/New Films 2011: <em>El Velador</em>
New Directors/New Films 2011: <em>El Velador</em>

“A film about violence without violence,” as the production notes put it, El Velador is deliberate, repetitive, and deceptively peaceful. Watching it feels at first as if you’re eavesdropping on someone else’s daydream, as director/producer/DP/editor Natalia Almada captures the rhythms of daily and nightly life in a Sinaloa cemetery in a quiet flow of images that gains power with surprising speed, breaching the seawall of our preconceived notions to impress upon us the horror of the war being waged on civil society in Mexico by a handful of drug cartels.

Lining the central road through the cemetery and extending several rows back are a forest of elaborate mausoleums that look like high-end haciendas in miniature. A construction crew comes in every day to build more and Almada is there to document their work, her lingering close-ups of bare feet and deteriorating shoes clinging to precarious perches personifying the grace and resilience that are characteristic of Mexico’s campesinos.