Discovering Latin American Film Festival (27 Nov – 4 Dec)

With the 10th Latin American Film Festival (27 Nov – 4 Dec), just around the corner, we spoke to the press director, Alaide Ortiz, about the origins of the festival and the highlights from this year’s programme.

Can you tell us a bit about the story of the Discovering Latin-America Film Festival?

Discovering Latin America (DLA) is a UK non-governmental organisation formed in August 2002, composed of 350 volunteers from 25 different countries, with formal operations in Brazil, Mexico, Spain and the UK. Our mission is to share the unique diversity, beauty and potential that Latin American culture offers to the world, whilst contributing to the less privileged sectors of the population.

In order to raise funds, DLA has created and developed a series of events in London covering various aspects of Latin American culture. This will be Discovering Latin America Film Festival (DLAFF) tenth edition.

Discovering Latin America Film Festival (DLAFF) has been committed to depict the cultural diversity, originality and wealth of cinematic talent that characterises Latin America through recent film productions. Through the organisation of film exhibitions, DLAFF intends to instil a much more thorough understanding of Latin American cultural diversity.

This year the festival is raising funds through Kickstarter. Why the decision to do it instead of getting funding from the traditional channels? Is this the first year that was put in place? And how successful was it?

This year we decided to begin our marketing campaign earlier than in previous editions, we believed that selling tickets in advance was a way to generate interest and create awareness about the upcoming festival. We also thought it would reduce any funding gap risks. This has been the first year that we launch a Kickstarter campaign and we have successfully raised £5,442 which was above our target.

Each day there are more and more film festivals, particularly in a big city like London. How is this one different and why should people check it out?

By attending our festival the audience supports through Discovering Latin America Film Festival Association “La Alianza Guatemala” which is a safe house exclusively set up for girls between the ages of 12-18 who have been victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. In that respect our festival is the only one that contributes directly to social causes in Latin America. Additionally, Discovering Latin America Film Festival has become one of the most diverse platforms of Latin America cinema bringing films not only from the largest countries in the region but also from countries with historically lower representation. This year we will have cinematography from Guatemala, Peru, Cuba and Ecuador in addition to Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Colombia and Mexico.

Is there a big interest in Latin-American culture in the UK?

I definitely think so! The number of institutions, festivals, conferences and events dedicated to various aspect of Latin-American culture speaks for itself. People do want to engage in celebration of this fascinating and diverse way of life and get to know this fascinating heritage. These kinds of events are always packed and full of energy. Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese are among the most popular language courses in London. Whenever I talk to my friends about Latin America, I can instantly see a spark of fascination in their eyes.

How’s the state of the cinema industry in Latin America, compared to 10 years ago when the festival first started?

We can definitely speak about a renaissance of cinematography across the Latin American continent after the year 2000, so I think we launched the festival around the right time! Year by year Latin American films have been increasingly visible at various international film festivals, getting prestigious awards and recognition. Now that we’re in the second decade into this very fortunate period, the cinematic trends evolve in new directions, and there are plenty of publications about individual cinematographers but I still think here in Europe we don’t see these films often enough and so we are trying to fill this gap with our festival.

Apart from films, what other events is the festival offering?

This year’s journey kicks off with an excellent pre-launch party happening on November 7th. We have couple of truly amazing guests, starting form Alejandro Fernández Almendras joining us for the Q&A at the opening gala of the festival. In collaboration with Tate Modern we’ve organised a retrospective of the iconic figure of Colombian cinema, Luis Ospina, who will also join us for the Q&A. Among other amazing guests we’ll have Guita Schyfter with her film ‘Orphans’, and also Javier Andrade with the ‘Porcelein Horse’ (trailer above ^).

Robert Pietri, together with his producer Tara Pietri and his actor James Alexandrou will be giving a talk and conducting a workshop after the screening of their ‘Semper Fidel’ film.
Apart from several thrilling gala nights, we have scheduled eight exciting days of wonderful films in London’s best locations.

Our festival will be a truly amazing opportunity to see some of the greatest Latin-American cinema, meet the directors and enjoy the best film atmosphere in the heart of London.

What are the plans for the future of the festival?

For the next edition we would like to open early call for submissions and perhaps showcase more images from emerging filmmakers, of course keeping the line of the acclaimed and established ones. We are also thinking about ways to attract even more of the public and we want to inspire even greater interest in Latin-American cinema, which has been increasingly successful for the past two decades. We are truly proud and honoured to showcase this amazing festival in London.

The full festival programme can be downloaded here.

Follow the Latin American Film Festival on Twitter @DLAFilmFestival

You can now buy your ticket to the festival pre-launch party on November 7th here.

Sara is originally from Coimbra, Portugal, where she studied Film Studies before moving to London to enrol in film school. Having made her first short film about her neighbour's chickens when she was 9 (a dystopian sci-fi, still her favourite genre), she is now a London-based film director and editor, and also a writer for the Portuguese Take Magazine. She is a huge fan of Lars Von Trier, Krysztof Kiéslowski, and David Lean.