Argentina's Mar del Plata To Open with "City of God"
by Brian Brooks
Argentina's Mar del Plata International Film Festival gets underway March 6 with Fernando Meirelles' Toronto 2002 award-winning "City of God." The film, set in the tough streets of Rio de Janeiro, follows the lives of two boys who grow up to be very different adults; it will screen out of competition.
Mar del Plata will feature 16 films as part of its late-summer Competition, including films from fellow Latin American countries, North America, Europe, and Asia. From the U.S., David Gordon Green's "All the Real Girls," about a Southern couple's romantic tribulations, will compete in the festival, which organizers laud as the oldest film festival in the Americas.
Canadian Jeff Erbach's "The Nature of Nicholas" will also join the competition. Nicholas (Jeff Sutton) is a 12-year-old boy obsessed with his best friend Bobby (David Turnbull) who remains vague about his desires. Other films screening in competition at Mar del Plata are Yong-Gyun Kim's "Wanne & Junah" (South Korea), Domingos de Oliveira's "Separacoes" (Brazil), Damian Szifron's "El Fondo del Mar" (Argentina), Antonio Chavarria's "Volveras" (Spain), Ebrahim Hatamikia's "Low Heights" (Iran), and Fernando Sarina's "Amarte Duele" (Mexico).
Spanish director Ventura Pons ("Food of Love") will head the official jury. Other confirmed jury members include Argentine director Carlos Sorin ("Historias Minimas"), Brazilian filmmaker Suzana Amaral ("A Hidden Life"), French writer/director Pascal Bonitzer ("Comme un avion"), American Ulu Grosbard ("Georgia"), and Indian-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta ("Bollywood/Hollywood").
"In recent years, the key international film festivals seems to be following a new trend. The strong feeling I get is that Hollywood is using these festivals as beachheads for the landing of their 'big guns' in Europe," commented Mar del Plata artistic coordinator Miguel Pereira in an event release. "At Mar del Plata, we are determined to show and promote films from every corner of the world and particularly Latin America."
In addition to competition, the festival will also host other sections including its "Point of View" of 18 films from around the world as well as "America Latina XXI," a selection of work from Latin American countries. Women filmmakers will be the focus in its "mujer y el cine" section, and "dark themed" films will screen as part of its "Cerca de lo oscuro" (Near Darkness) sidebar. The festival also plans a series of open-air screenings by the sea including "Washington Heights" (Alfredo Villa); "Te Busco" (Richard Coral Dorado), and "The Great Cat" (Venturo Pons) among others. The festival ends March 15.