What We Leave Behind
Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, the annual Austin celebration of movies from across the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world, returns to the big screen after two pandemic years tomorrow night with El Buen Patrón.
Written and directed by Fernando León de Aranoa (Loving Pablo, the satire stars Javier Bardem as a factory boss who goes to increasingly extreme ends to protect his shot at an award. The festival opener was Spain’s submission for the 94th Academy Awards for best international feature film, and so it’s only fitting that the fest ends with another Oscar hopeful: Deserto Particular (Private Desert), Brazil’s contender from last year.
As always, Cine Las Americas is global in its reach, with films from as far afield as Uruguay, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Canada, and, yes, the U.S. Executive Director Gabriel Ornelas, said, “This year marks another huge step both in a return to theater-going normalcy, but also looking very much toward the future and filmmaker development for our Austin and Texas-based filmmakers as well as our student filmmakers. Interweaving that focus with the wonderful lineup of films we have this year offers the best of both worlds as far as we are concerned.”
Leading the lineup for the HET films (that’s Hecho en Tejas) programming is double SXSW award-winner What We Leave Behind, Iliana Soza’s moving documentary about her grandfather and his life across the border. It’s complemented by a wide array of shorts from across the Lone Star State, Maximiliano Benitez’s “Lift a Weight” and Elias Posada’s “Save the Block,” filmed in Austin.
Cine Las Americas runs June 8-12 at at AFS Cinema, 6529 Middle Fiskville, and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, 600 River. Tickets and info at cinelasamericas.org/film-festival. Here’s the full list of films playing:
Opening Night Selection
The Good Boss
El Buen Patrón (The Good Boss)
D: Fernando León de Aranoa
Spain, 120 min
The Good Boss takes place in and around the Blancos Básculas factory, where all things must be in balance at all times. After all, they manufacture scales of all shapes and sizes. There, the seemingly benevolent boss, Bardem’s Blanco, is preparing his workforce for an upcoming inspection by a group visiting local businesses to select one for a prestigious prize. Tensions begin to mount, however, when recently fired employee Jose shows up with his two children and begins making demands for the reinstatement of his employment. When Blanco’s management team refuses, the employee begins a one-man crusade to discredit Blanco and prevent him from winning the much-coveted award.
Closing Night Selection
Deserto Particular (Private Desert)
D: Aly Muritiba
Brazil/Portugal, 123 min
Daniel is an exemplary policeman, but he ends up making a mistake that puts his career and honor at risk. Without seeing a reason to stay living in Curitiba, he leaves there looking for Sara, a woman he has developed a relationship with virtually.
Showcase – Narrative Feature Films
D: Martín Barrenechea & Nicolás Branca
Uruguay/Argentina, 105 min
Christian is a rising star in the world of football. He lives isolated, in a luxurious and lonely environment, besieged by fans, under pressure from the media and forced to honor commitments made by his father who acts as his manager. For the first time Christian feels the need to escape.
D: Violeta Salama
Spain/United States, 119 min
Alegría does not acknowledge her Jewish roots. When she learns that her family is going to stay at her home in Melilla for her niece’s wedding, her life gets messy. Luckily, the Moroccan girl who helps her out at home and her best friend are always there for her. With the help of the two women, she will face all the surprising events caused by the wedding and the reunion with her daughter she didn’t see for 5 years.
D: Justin Lerner
Guatemala/United States/Mexico, 125 min
After her sister goes missing, Sarita, a working-class girl from Guatemala City, travels to the seaside town of Puerto Barrios to infiltrate a group of young gang members. As she risks her life to join the gang, Sarita becomes involved with her sister’s dangerous ex-boyfriend and gets closer to learning what happened to her sister.
D: Nathalie Álvarez Mesén
Costa Rica/Sweden/Belgium/Germany/France/United States, 106 min
In a remote village in Costa Rica, forty-year-old Clara endures a repressively religious and withdrawn life under the command of her mother. Her uncanny affinity for creatures large and small allows Clara to find solace in the natural world around her. Tension builds within the family as Clara’s younger niece approaches her quinceañera, igniting a sexual and mystical awakening in Clara, and a journey to free herself from the conventions that have dominated her life.
D: Diana Cardozo
Mexico/Uruguay, 87 min
Seven-year-old Luis is shocked: he has seen his neighbors get murdered while everyone remains indifferent and ransacks the victims’ home. His own father takes advantage of the situation and steals a sofa to sell in another town. Father and son will then set out on a grueling bike journey across the mountain, dragging the sofa behind. Over the course of just a few days, Luis witnesses the mystery of death, the frailty of adults and the wonder of time, all amid games. We witness his growing pains while life seemingly refuses to give way.
Mis Hermanos Sueñan Despiertos (My Brothers Dream Awake)
D: Claudia Huaiquimilla
Chile, 85 min
Ángel and his younger brother Franco have been incarcerated in a juvenile prison for a year. Despite the difficulties, they have formed a solid group of friends with whom they spend their days sharing dreams of freedom. Everything changes when the arrival of a rebellious young man offers a possible escape: the only door to make those dreams come true. Inspired by many true events.
D: José María Cabral
Dominican Republic, 85 min
In 1937, near the border between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, a young Haitian woman named Marie is expecting her first child with Frank, her doting Dominican husband. After her mother’s burial, she is awakened in the middle of the night by distant screams. The immediate execution of all Haitians on Dominican soil has been ordered — the so-called “Cut” — and what seals a victim’s fate is whether or not they can pronounce “perejil” (parsley). Marie takes off to find Frank in the next town over, with nothing but the clothes on her back. Alone in the mountains, 9 months pregnant, and with nowhere to hide, she must make her way through the dense hinterland before the Parsley Massacre catches up with her.
Sis Dies Corrents (The Odd-Job Men)
D: Neus Ballús
Spain, 85 min
The Odd-Job Men tells the story of a week in the life of Moha, Valero and Pep – workers in a small plumbing and electricity company in the outskirts of Barcelona: they are the guys who enter your home and fix what’s broken. Moha, the youngest, is on a one-week trial period with the company. He is shy but does surprisingly well with customers. Moha is set to replace Pep, who is about to retire. However, Valero is not at all comfortable with Pep retiring. He doubts Moha has what it takes, or that customers will accept a Moroccan worker. Maybe six days are not enough to make somebody change, to make him overcome his prejudices. Maybe it’s not enough time to make a new friend. But it’s possibly enough to discover that we have to live together: one small step for a plumber, but a giant leap for mankind.
D: Alejandro Loayza Grisi
Bolivia/Uruguay/France, 87 min
In the Bolivian highlands, an elderly Quechua couple has been living the same daily life for years. During an uncommonly long drought, Virginio and his wife Sisa face a dilemma: resist or be defeated by the environment and time itself.
Yo y las Bestias (Me and the Beasts)
D: Nico Manzano
Venezuela, 78 min
An alternative rock band’s singer-guitarist starts a solo career, seeking inspiration as Venezuela’s crisis roils, with the help of “The Beasts”, two mysterious masked beings.
Showcase – Documentary Feature Films
Gods of Mexico
D: Helmut Dosantos
Mexico, 97 min
A survey of rural Mexico composed into an extraordinary collage of labor practices and vast landscapes, Gods of Mexico portrays the rich diversity of several communities of Native Peoples and Afro-descendants throughout the country. It is both a testament to the human being and a tribute to those who fight to preserve their cultural identity. The viewer explores a “Lost Atlantis” in which unlimited possibilities of existence continue to resist in the shadows of modernization.
D: Isabel Castro
United States, 85 min
Doris Muñoz desperately longed for better representation in the indie music she listened to as a teenager. At 23, she took matters into her own hands and began a career in music talent management, passionately advocating for rising Latinx artists. Her swift success transformed her into a pillar for a community of first- and second-generation Americans seeking collective acceptance and healing through song. When Doris receives news that forces her to reconsider working in music, she finds Jacks Haupt, an auspicious young singer eager to break out of her parent’s home in Dallas, Texas. Beyond the sweet moments of joy, glitter, and hope, Doris and Jacks share the ever-present guilt of being the first American-born members of their undocumented families. For them, the pressure of financial success is heightened because it facilitates green card processing and family reunification.
Narrative Feature Competition
El Cuento del Limonero (The Tale of the Lemon Tree)
D: Luis (soto) Muñoz
Spain, 50 min, International Premiere
Lola roams in her elder life, walking around the olive trees, her house, an errant old cinema… Meeting in those places, the phantoms of the people who have accompanied her in her past life.
Hazlo Por Mi (Do It For Me)
D: Álvaro de la Hoz
Spain, 93 min, World Premiere
Raquel is 16 years old and lives in the Pas valleys (Cantabria, Spain). The arrival of Luis, a mysterious and enigmatic neighbor, will give Raquel’s life and unexpected turn, taking her in a direction she would have never imagined.
D: Daniela Seggiaro
Argentina, 90 min
The way in which the territory is inhabited by the indigenous cultures of the Gran Chaco generates community movements close to the forest and the river, sources of life. The government is planning a new territorial order with popular houses and the displacement of wichí families to the new urban periphery. Ana is the architect in charge of the project. Valentino is the chief of his community and with his grandson Leonel they will try to mediate what they consider to be a new cultural outrage.
D: Joaquín Peñagaricano, Pablo Abdala
Uruguay/Argentina/Brazil, 82 min, North America Premiere
In an Uruguay of the future, altered by the prohibition of yerba mate, two illegal sellers begin a crusade to Paraguay to bring yerba. On this trip they will become heroes and they will try to return to the town their lost identity. South American folklore aboard a road movie in the key of absurd comedy.
D: Bretten Hannam
Canada, 107 min
A rebellious two-spirit teenager runs away from home to find his birth mother and reclaim his Mi’kmaw heritage.
Documentary Feature Competition
Daughter of a Lost Bird
D: Brooke Pepion Swaney
Canada, 66 min
The documentary Daughter of a Lost Bird explores ethics surrounding Native American adoption via a singular story as an entry point into a more complicated national issue. In many ways, Kendra Potter is a perfect example of cultural assimilation, a modern representation of the painful phrase, “kill the Indian, save the man.” She is a thriving woman who grew up in a loving, upper middle-class white family, and feels no significant loss with the absence of Native American culture or family in her life. And yet, as a Blackfeet/Salish woman, director Brooke Swaney could not imagine that Kendra could be content or complete without understanding her heritage. So together they embark on a 7-year journey. After 34 years apart, Kendra finds her biological mother April and they meet face-to-face in Portland, Oregon. The film, both instigator and follower, documents Kendra on her journey to reconnect with her birth mother April, also a Native adoptee, and return to her Native homelands.
El Silencio del Topo (The Silence of the Mole)
D: Anaïs Taracena
Guatemala, 91 min
Throughout the 1970s, the journalist Elías Barahona, a.k.a. “El Topo”/”The Mole”, infiltrated the heart of one of the most repressive governments in Guatemala. In seeking to uncover the story of this secretive and unique individual, “The Silence of the Mole”, captures the moments when the revelations from the past probes the cracks in the walls of silence that surround this country’s hidden history.
El Último Arquero (The Last Archer)
D: Dácil Manrique de Lara Millares
Spain, 74 min
Founder of the Archer art movement, Alberto Manrique is one of the Canary Islands’ most innovative 20th-century artists. As he approaches his later years, his memory is beginning to fade, and with it, a lifetime of stories may be lost. The painter’s granddaughter, director Dácil Manrique, returns to her grandparents’ home to help Alberto recover the memories of his life and career. As she sifts through old Super 8 footage and diaries, she discovers a beautiful love story between her grandparents and the magical world they created together—but also realizes that she, too, is on an unexpected journey of recovery from her own past.
D: Vee Bravo
Chile/United States, 92 min
Primera tells the story of Chile’s revolutionary path towards a new constitution. Over the course of a year, the film chronicles the social uprising that evolved into a nation-wide movement, beginning with the student takeover of Santiago’s metro system and ending with the historic plebiscite that paved the way for the writing of a new constitution. The film offers an immersive look at the year-long process through the experiences of everyday Chileans who were affected by the violent police repression at the start of the social uprising.
D: Jeff Adachi, Chihiro Wimbush
United States, 76 min
When a young woman is shot by an undocumented immigrant on Pier 14 in San Francisco, the incident ignites a political and media furor that culminates in Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States. In the eye of this storm, two public defenders fight to reveal the truth.
Narrative Shorts Competition
“Chão de Fábrica” (“Lunch Break”)
D: Nina Kopko
Brazil, 25 min
1979. Four female workers have lunch break inside the ladies’ room at a metallurgical factory. Between laughs and scuffles, each one has a secret of their own.
“Imposible Decirte Adiós” (“Attached”)
D: Yolanda Centeno
Spain, 15 min
When Paula´s painful breakup with Raúl causes her to stop seeing his son Dani, Paula will have no choice but to challenge a hypocritical legal system that ignores the custody rights of a loving, non-biological parent.
“Nosotros: las bestias” (“We: the beasts”)
D: Marcelo Landaeta
Bolivia, 14 min
In the 1980s, Bolivia is recovering from the military dictatorships that took over the country. Franco, a little boy, starts a friendship with the strange man his mother keeps locked up in their basement. Thinking that he is his father, he tries to free him, finding out truths that he cannot understand.
“País Improvisto” (“Unintended Country”)
D: Alfredo Hueck
Venezuela, 16 min
A troop of improvising clowns deceives an unsuspecting audience. ANY RESEMBLANCE TO ACTUAL POLITICIANS IS NOT COINCIDENTAL.
D: Eduardo Bunster, Belén Abarza
Chile, 18 min
A couple goes to design their first child to a gene-editing clinic, hoping that the kid will have the successful and happy life that has eluded them.
Documentary Shorts Competition
D: Mariana França de Lima
Brazil, 25 min
The documentary presents the experiences of three black women from different generations who are or have been crossed by the same feeling: the loneliness and solitude of black women.
“Cuban American Gothic”
D: Maria Teresa Rodriguez
United States, 17 min
Cuban America Gothic is the comic and slightly surreal story of Maggie, who is living alone in New York City during the early 2020 pandemic. When her Cuban parents return from the dead to help, they remind her of their immigrant journey and that they have given her everything she needs to meet the moment.
“Golpe de Vida” (“Punch of Life”)
D: Luís Alejandro Rodríguez, Andrés Eduardo Rodríguez
Venezuela, 25 min
Former boxer Gregory Canelón gives himself with high commitment and dedication to the demanding task of training a diverse group of boys and girls from the most populous communities of the city of Caracas in the arduous discipline of boxing. The lives, fears and hopes of his young students are woven in a deep and inspiring way in Gregory’s intimate struggle to achieve redemption, to resize the traumas of the past and thus overcome the uncertainty that the future implies for all.
D: Vincent L’Hérault, Tim Anaviapik Soucie
Canada, 28 min
The inspired journey of a young Inuit community researcher.
“La pantalla andina” (“The Andean Screen”)
D: Carmina Balaguer
Argentina, 49 min
A Northwestern Argentinian teacher leads a mobile cinema crew to the most isolated school in the Jujuy high-altitude valleys, undergoing a 20-hour journey on foot in adverse conditions. “The Andean Screen” is a poetic analogy between cinema and travel; a choral history spun by Silvina Velázquez, principal of the school, whose tenacity introduces a new paradigm for the women of the valleys.
Lo Que Dejamos Atrás (What We Leave Behind)
D: Iliana Sosa
Mexico/United States, 72 min
At the age of 89, Julián takes one last bus ride to El Paso, Texas, to visit his daughters and their children — a lengthy trip he has made without fail every month for decades. After returning to rural Mexico, he quietly starts building a house in the empty lot next to his home. In the absence of his physical visits, can this new house bridge the distance between his loved ones? Over several years, director Iliana Sosa films her grandfather’s work, gently sifting through Julián’s previously unspoken memories brought up by the construction project and revealing both the daily pragmatism and poetry of his life.
HET Competition Shorts
D: Hope Martinez
United States, 15 min
“Adam” is a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl, Elizabeth, and her best friend Adam, her dog. Elizabeth is often by herself because her single parent mother is usually away on business trips. Elizabeth craves a genuine connection with someone. Due to bad experiences making friends Elizabeth turns to the one and only friend she counts on, Adam.
“Brown Eyes, Light Skin, Brown Hair”
D: Sergio E Munoz Esquer
United States, 7 min
A young student from El Paso, Texas brings back memories of her love story on the US-Mexico border.
“Down for Dee”
D: Ximena Alvarez
United States, 6 min
A young school teacher named Ellie Dee tries to navigate her many possible matches in the world of superhero fetish match making.
D: Esmeralda Hernandez
United States, 7 min
Framed through the migration of monarch butterflies, a college-bound Chicana reflects on the generations of women before her.
D: Anthony B Najera
United States, 7 min
“Game Point” is based on the love of the game. Although Jonathan is not destined for basketball greatness, I wanted to present a character who sees how the “mamba-mentality” can still be applied on a small scale to improve ourselves.
“Lift a Weight”
D: Maximiliano Benitez
United States, 5 min
With the ceaseless expansion of gentrification in East Austin, this feature follows a new gym owner through their personal experience with such an abrupt phenomenon.
“Pieces of Life”
D: Margaret Sanchez
United States, 11 min
A middle-aged Hispanic woman has built a successful life and marriage, with her caring husband and stepdaughter both being a foundation of stability and unconditional love. Yet she’s never come to terms with a previous life of addictions, reckless behavior and abandoning a young child.
“Save the Block”
D: Elias Posada
United States, 14 min
The Valdez family has lived in East Austin for generations. Over decades and with their hard work they have acquired most of the properties on their street. Now, along with the rest of East Austin they are in a fight to keep their culture and family together.
D: Carolina Bayón
United States, 11 min
Carmen is a woman in her early 20’s dealing with heartbreak and acceptance. She must decide whether to tell her father a secret about her in order to accept herself.
D: Alexander Rosales
United States, 13 min
While at a family gathering in South Texas, an awkward Mexican-American, Mijo, is forced to tag along on his cousin’s night out after butchering his Spanish pronunciation in front of his family.
Panorama Features (Free)
D: Heloisa Passos
Brazil/Portugal, 79 min
Eneida, 83, is unable to furthermore bear the absence of her firstborn, whom she has not seen for 23 years. Helped by her middle daughter, Eneida embarks on an odyssey willing to break the walls that split the family. Together, mother and daughter, wonder through moments of discoveries, hopes, fears, and uncertainties.
Fly So Far
D: Celina Escher
El Salvador, 88 min
After serving ten years behind bars for her miscarriage, considered by her government to be an act of aggravated murder, Teodora Vasquez becomes a spokesperson for the other 16 Salvadoran women behind bars for the same “crime”.
From Mexico to Vietnam: A Chicano Story
D: Andrés Gallegos
United States, 51 min
After losing her father at an early age, Tina Duran explores the rich history of her father, the story of her ancestors who migrated from Mexico to the United States, and the implications the Vietnam War had on her community.
D: Dario Guerrero
Mexico, 63 min
A Mexican family battles their mother’s cancer using ancient knowledge.
D: Alex Pritz
Brazil/Denmark/United States, 83 min
Network of Brazilian farmers seizes a protected area of the Amazon rainforest, a young Indigenous leader and his mentor must fight back in defense of the land and an uncontacted group living deep within the forest.
Va por Diego (For you Diego)
D: Miguel Flatow
Mexico, 96 min
Pablo and Diego are brothers who work as dishwashers at a local bar and play soccer in the afternoons. On the way home from practice one day, Diego is the victim of a hit and run. Pablo and his widowed mother are unable to pay for Diego’s life-saving surgeries, which prompts Pablo to recruit a team of eclectic friends and enter a soccer tournament to win the $100,000 peso prize money. Each game represents life or death. The story takes an unexpected turn when Pablo discovers that the son of the person who left Diego for dead is participating in the tournament, that same father who happens to be a powerful and corrupt local politician with no regard for the life of Diego, or, for that matter, Pablo.
Panorama Shorts (Free)
“Estrellas del desierto” (“Desert Lights”)
D: Katherina Harder Sacre
Chile, 19 min
In the middle of Atacama desert, Antay (12) sees his town disappearing due to droughts and neglect.Alongside his friends Inti (12) and Ayelén (11) and the football team they have formed, they will try to hang on to the last sunrays, their childhood fragments and the ties with those who still resist.
“La Última Pieza” (“Puzzle”)
D: Ricardo Muñoz Senior
Venezuela, 15 min
In a dystopian society, Albertini must face an abusive and indifferent administration just to complete a simple puzzle.
“Los Patines” (“The Roller Skates”)
D: Loren Escandon
USA, 8 min
Forced to be a servant to a white woman, an Afro-Colombian orphaned girl dreams of freedom, a normal childhood, and a pair of roller skates.
D: Emilio González
Spain, 11 min
After a bad breakup, Romulo takes us through all of his past relationships.
“Las Infantas” (“The Infantas”)
D: Andrea Herrera Catalá
Spain, 14 min
A preteen of Dominican origin is ready to fight for the first time when her mother forces her to be the princess in a carnival float.
“Wuitina Numiá” (“Daughters of Courage”)
D: Rita de Cácia Oenning da Silva, Kurt Shaw
Brazil, 20 min
When a wildcat miner invades a Tukano Indian village in the Amazon, only an ancient shaman and three girls can defend their jungle and their future. A film made together with the Tukano and Desana peoples in the Amazonian village of Balaio, Wuitina Numiá presents indigenous people as they wish to be seen… and as cinema has seldom presented them before.
Emergencia all ages
“Comiendo Pan Dulce” (“Making Sweet Bread”)
D: Ebony Ramos
“Gone But Not Forgotten”
D: Cira Garza
“La Voodoo Femme”
D: Kristin Quintanilla
“Lilly Goes to the Dogs”
D: The Bum Family
D: The Bum Family
D: Cody Salais
D: Pablo Ferrando
“Inside the Dark”
D: Ivan Almendros
“No Tengas Miedo a Llorar” (“Don’t Be Afraid of Crying”)
D: Adrián Lozano
“Objeto Descartable” (“Disposable Object”)
D: Nina Torres Loiseau
D: Adrián Lozano Mateos
“The Fruits of Our Labor”
D: Maddie Valdez Clark
“Volo Mori” (“I Crave Death”)
D: Wiley Martinez, E.K. Lewis
“It’s Real but It Doesn’t Exist” (“Es Real Pero No Existe”)
D: Jaime Venegas
Music Video Competition
“Arre” D: Hermann Neudert, Mexico, 3 min
“Danza de Sol” (Sun Dance) D: Estudio Pneuma/Miguel Jara Mexico, 5 min
“María Parado de Bellido” D: Mateo Llosa, Peru, 3 min
“Narcisa” D: Bernardo Quesney, Chile, 2 min
“Nobody’s Clown” D: David Brocca, United States, 6 min
“PQNMJ” D: Medhi Zollo, United States, 3 min
“Ta’ que tiembla” D: Oswaldo Colón Ortiz, Puerto Rico, 3 min
Music Video Non-Competition
“El Amor de Mis Amores” D: Gabriel Bonnefoy, Colombia, 4 min
“Huracán” D: Claudia Andrea Escobar, United States, 5 min
“Para Mi Gente” (For My People) D: Isaac Centeno, United States, Costa Rica, 4 min
Femme Frontera Filmmaker Showcase
“Everything is Blue” D: Micaela “Mica” Burgess
“Folk Frontera” D: Alejandra Vasquez
“Kii Nche Ndusta” (Time and the Seashell) D: Itandehui Jansen
“Lullaby” D: Khushee Hedge
“Mijo” D: Mazdey Snob
“Nurture” D: Ying-Fang Shen
“There Was Nobody Here We Knew” D: Khaula Malik
“Viva Nos Queremos” D: Saray Argumedo
Teach for America Showcase
Aldine ISD: Profile of a School that Serves Latinx Students
Color the Streets
Day Camp at Navajo Nation
Education Shifts Power
High School in Baltimore Creates Welcome
Into the Circle
Lakota Language is Freedom
More Than A Number
Ohana & Aina
Rooted Reinvention, Episode 1
Students Soar in Flight School
The Eldest Daughter
When Spirits Dance