New stage for Latin American film by students

July 2009 -

David Pablos is studying at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica: a film study affiliated with the National Film Institute in Mexico City. With his film La Canción de los Niños Muertos (Song of the dead children), the story of a family's unusual grieving process after the death of the main character's mother, Pablos won Latin American Angel Award in May 2009. This year the prize was awarded for the first time to the best short film by a student in the Student Shorts programme of the Latin American Film Festival (LAFF) in Utrecht.


Scene from La Canción de los Niños Muertos by David Pablos

""With this programme, we want to offer Latin American directors an international stage for their films", says Stien Meesters, the festival's programme and production coordinator. "Films by students are not normally played in the cinema or on television, and only seldom make it to a film festival. Thus it is important to create a platform where students can present their work. At the same time, we are able to introduce our public to on-coming Latin American talent. The films were shown as support films for the regular programme and during the open-air session."

"We approached various Latin American film schools and asked them to submit their best films from the previous year. In general, the responses were enthusiastic. The films varied significantly in terms of length, form and theme. On average they lasted from 5 to 35 minutes, and the submissions included documentaries, fiction and animation. This accurately reflects the films being produced by students throughout Latin America."

"Some Latin American state universities have excellent film programmes, including the UNAM in Mexico City, which even has its own television station. Many of the countries also have a National Film Institute that offers study programmes, and naturally there are numerous - often extremely expensive - private universities and institutions that offer film programmes, the quality of which varies from downright lousy to excellent. In the larger film countries, like Argentina, Mexico and Brazil, many more high-quality programmes are available than in the smaller Latin American countries. For the record, the quality of the talent being presented did not seem to me to differ much: in general it was pretty much the same", according to Meesters.

During Brasil Contemporary, summer 2009 in Rotterdam, there are open air showings of LAFF films. The LAFF is supported by the Hivos-NCDO Culture Fund.