cinemas, What's On

Interview: Alex Castro | Cine Latino Film Festival

Cine Latino Film Festival

This August, Melbourne cinephile will be treated to the first ever Cine Latino: A NewFestival of Latin American Cinema. With over 30 films from over 11 countries, the festival is dedicated to exploring the diverse and exciting Latin American cinema of now. We spoke to festival programmer, Alex Castro (former Melbourne Latin American Film Festival Director) ahead of the festival to find out his recommendations for the festival and the inspiration behind it. 

This is a brand new film festival to Melbourne (and Australia). What inspired you to put together this festival?

For many years now the Spanish Film Festival has presented excellent Spanish-language films from Latin American countries such as Argentina, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Colombia. But too many great films were missing out. Cine Latino: Festival of Latin American Cinema gives us the chance to screen a greater number of these quality films, plus we get to see films from Latin America that are not in Spanish, especially Brazil.

Latin cinema has become more and more popular here in Australia, why do you think that is?

Latin America is home to some of the top filmmaking talent in the world. Mexico boasts three outstanding directors in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Birdman, The Revenant), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth); plus the cinematographer Emmaneul Lubezki, winner of the last 3 oscars for Gravity, Birdman and The Revenant. 

And more and more Australians are visiting Latin America as a travel destination. Cinema is a great way to re-connect with the culture that they experienced when travelling. And there are more and more Latin Americans living in Australia. So if you have Latin friends cinema gives you a way to experience their culture.

What are some of your other favourite film festivals, whether in Melbourne or around the world?

I will always love MIFF because i’ve had some unforgettable experiences there, like seeing Sergio Leone’s “Once Upon a Time in America” at The Forum. And I love going to festivals in other countries because you feel the international brother or sisterhood that connects film lovers around the world. But the best thing about festivals is when you take a chance on a film and it delivers a memorable experience. We have a few films in Cine Latino like that.

Tell us quickly how you selected the films for the festival?

It’s a team effort. We have folks attending the big showcase festivals like Cannes, Berlin, Venice etc, plus Latin American festivals. And then we go looking for films based on research, tips and our knowledge of filmmakers and filmmaking trends.

What are some of the highlights of the film festival? What are you top picks?

Our Opening Night film Neruda is a must. Throw in the Centrepiece (The Violin Teacher), Argentina (Closing Night) and Endless Poetry (from Alejandro Jodorowsky), and you have four films from some truly great directors. But there’s also some indie gems, like Guarani, Solos and Sex Life of Plants; and a truly beautiful observational documentary, Hotel Nueva Isla – and I’m really excited about the Mexican showcase that has been selected for us by the Hola Mexico Film Festival from LA.

When: August 17 -31,

Where: Palace Cinemas

Visit the website here.

Win 1 of 10 double passes to the Cine Latino Film Festival here. Competition closes midnight, August 15.