This year's edition of the Pan African Film Festival offers several Latin American films. Here are a couple highlights:
Oggun: An Eternal Presence, Cuba
Through song, Lazaro Ross, lead singer of El Conjunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, tells of his personal experience as a godson of Oggun. The world of the Yoruba religion, the primary religion in Cuba, and the Orisha come alive in this mesmerizing film which intertwines traditional stories with present-day Yoruba worship in Cuba.
La Granja (The Farm), Puerto Rico
Barrio La Esperanza is a small sector of a Macondo-like island forgotten due to the catastrophic effects of the economic depression and drug addiction gripping Puerto Rico. Three lives are pushed to the limit and reveal how their pursuit of hope dehumanizes them and exposes their animal instincts. Ingrid, a repressed and barren midwife in her 50s, has always wanted a child. While working at the local hospital, she realizes that most of the pregnant women are heroin addicts, making her wonder if she is better suited to be a mother than they will ever be. The envy and vicious hope pushes Ingrid on a downward spiral with no turning back. At the same time, Fausto, a former pro boxer and now a cock fighter owner in his 40s, trains his teenage son, Santito, to become a boxing champion. Due to a massive debt in cock fights to the local bookie, Fausto is forced to use Santito as the cruel vehicle to get the money he owes by submitting him to the underground, underage fighting scene. Lastly we have Lucho, an overweight, mute kid who commutes on his bike all over town, and who is trying to get the affection of Sara, his junkie stepsister. When Sara's life is suddenly in danger, Lucho sees the opportunity to be her hero. Paradoxically, Lucho's innocence and good intentions are used by his own family for a greater evil. When he is by himself, Lucho finds a friend on a stray horse tied to a tree, which serves as the perfect metaphor of a society destroyed by indifference and intolerance.
Los Angeles: Feb. 9 - 17. Full lineup and details here.