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The IberoAmerican Film Festival

Through August 26 at the Boston Public Library
By ANA RIVAS  |  August 10, 2006

Boston’s IberoAmerican Film Festival, organized by the Boston Public Library in partnership with the regional consulates of each of the 13 countries, continues tonight and runs through August 26 at the BPL. The eleventh annual festival features a dozen movies that have been box office or critic favorites in their homelands, but barely released in the U.S.

About 200 people showed up for the opening film last Thursday, which was “the largest opening in years,” according to Alexandra Merceron, the festival’s communications manager. Below, a route map to future, free-of-charge screenings.

Venezuelan El Caracazo (August 10, 6 pm) was created in response to a special request by the multifaceted President — and TV star — Hugo Chavez, and produced completely with state funds. Chavez, according to the director Roman Chalbaud, called him to recount his recollection of the bloody popular rebellion in 1989 in Caracas. The movie fictionally represents the revolt called “Caracazo,” which began as a protest against an increase in bus ticket prices and ended up in hundreds of deaths after a violent reaction from the government of Carlos Andres Perez.

New Voices, a collection of short films from El Salvador, screens August 12, at noon, and, later the same day, the Costa Rican love story Caribe, screens at 6 pm. Guatemala’s developing cinema is represented by Donde acaban los Caminos/Where All Roads End (August 26, noon), a film based on writer Mario Monteforte Toledo’s autobiographical novel. Ecuador presents La Tigra/The Tigress (August 26, 6 pm) and the Peruvian selection is Paloma de Papel/Paper Dove (August 17, 6 pm).

The two Portuguese-language films come from — suprise — Portugal and Brazil, two countries with strong cinematographic histories. In Vale Abraao/Abraham’s Valley (August 15, 6 pm), Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira features a female character, Emma, said to be “so pretty that cars crash in her presence.” From Brazil, A Ostra e o Vento/The Oyster and the Wind  (August 22, 6 pm) is a story of isolation and love.

Perhaps the best known of all these movies is the Spanish Mar Adentro/The Sea Inside, (August 24 6pm), a story where the euthanasia question is answered by characters rooted in Galicia’s seaside. In one of the most moving scenes, Ramon (Javier Bardem) takes us out of the bed where he has been lying for almost thirty years: he grabs the white sheets, and takes-off flying through the window.

A book display compliments the film festival, with Spanish and Portuguese language books on the cinema, art, culture, and history of the participating nations.

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