The 14th annual Latin Wave Film Festival unwinds at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston this weekend with several premieres representing cinema from several Latin American countries.
Three directors will be making appearances during the festival, including Uruguay’s Federico Veiroj, Margarita Hernández from Cuba, and Columbia’s Christina Gallego.
Countries represented include Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia, Cuba, Uruguay, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Argentina.
Two of the films are encores of noted films that had theatrical releases earlier this year — the award-winning “Roma” and “Birds of Paradise.” The latter film, co-directed by Latin Wave attendee Christina Gallego, follows the indigenous Wayuu clan, who lives close to the Earth while maintaining a drug dealing presence with outsiders.
The subjects range from drama to science fiction to comedy, and include the comedic heist film “Mused,” starring Gael Garcia Bernal. In the film, Bernal and a reluctant friend break into a Mexican museum and steal priceless Mayan treasures, only to find that selling the objects is another ball game.
The film by Margarita Hernández, “Che, Memories of a Secret Year,” documents what happened to Che Guevara after he disappeared from Cuba, including hiding out in Tanzania and Prague.
Uruguayan filmmaker Federico Veiroj will present his fourth feature, “Belmonte,” on Friday night. Byline Houston was able to speak to Veiroj, who lives in the Uruguayan capital Montevideo, by phone recently to ask him questions about his new film.
“It’s a very small country with just over three million people,” Veiroj says about Uruguay, wedged between the giant countries Argentina and Brazil. “We are the small brother of both of them.”
“Belmonte” examines the life of a restless painter as he copes with a mid-life crisis that is mostly of his own creation. At times Belmonte imagines people who aren’t there, at other times he attempts to deal with his ex-wife and his relationship with his young daughter.
“I like making movies about characters like Belmonte,” says Veiroj. “He has traits that I like to explore. I like to show that kind of energy, that impulsive nature.”
Indeed in some of Veiroj’s other films, like “Acne” (2008) and “The Apostate” (2015), we follow a lead character unsure of their place in society, highlighted by their often-disheveled manner or other insecurities.
“I had sequences in mind and locations that I wanted to shoot,” says Veiroj. “Also to show off Montevideo and how Belmonte fits into his environment.”
“It’s a contrast of his domestic life and his artistic life,” he says. “I like characters that ask questions about their life, or a film that in the end asks similar questions.”
Veiroj makes excellent use of music in “Belmonte.” Most notably is a sequence scored to the “Aquarium” movement of “Carnival of the Animals” by Saint-Saëns.
“That music offers a link to a fantasy situation, and it’s also an easy way to link to the audience,” says Veiroj.
Another scene features a folk song from the popular Uruguayan singer Leo Masliah.
“My brother lived in Houston for ten years, but I’ve never been there,” says Veiroj, who already has a list of places and restaurants to visit.
The Latin Wave 14: New Films From Latin America unwinds starting Thursday, May 2 and runs until Sunday, May 5 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. A happy hour reception begins Thursday evening at 5 p.m.
A complete list of films can be found online at the MFAH Film website.