Santa Elena de Uairén, September 18th, 2014. (Venezuelanalysis.com)- On Friday, September 12, Venezuela's First International Film festival commenced in Caracas. The festival features over 100 films from across Latin America, 89 of which have been entered into a competition whose winner will be selected by popular vote at the end of this week.
The entries were selected by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), with Puerto Rico invited to participate with five films of their own, three of which were chosen to compete. The winner of the festival will be presented to the public on September 21st.
The festival’s official logo, which features an image of the South American continent oriented in the direction opposite of traditional maps, demonstrates the desire to reverse the Eurocentric acculturation and Hollywood influences on Latin American film production.
Still, communications coordinator Ketsy Medina told venezuelanalysis.com that it’s not easy to depart from decades of inoculated values which the infamous Venezuelan novelas (soap operas), often set in Miami, did little to subside.
“This is the first festival, and the response has been very positive… but we have much to learn. Many films still maintain an atmosphere of makeup and perfume, of predictable scripts, and we have a hard time breaking the mold," Medina mused. “I hope the next festival reflects what we are choosing not to be.”
Many of the venues participating in the festival are newly recuperated theaters, cultural spaces and parks. Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro used the film festival as an opportunity to recuperate Cine Cipreses which has been abandoned for over 35 years. Tickets were set at the low price of 30 bolivars, and Venezuelans of all ages could be seen filing into the cinemas as nearby performance artists kept the mood festive with break dance and acrobatics.
The official program was preceded by a week of Insurgent Film screenings, in cultural centers and parks throughout Caracas and in the surrounding barrios. The local government of Caracas is also developing a series of cineclubs, or film clubs, to project movies throughout the city’s poorer areas in tandem with grassroots collectives.
The festival’s agenda also includes a series of workshops, including screenwriting, and art direction, based out of the National Experimental University for the Arts (UNEARTE), created by Hugo Chavez in 2008, and boasting a modern campus in the city’s center.
“This festival is about turning ideas into reality, ideas of utopias that we collectively weaved with Chavez,” Medina told venezuelanalysis.com. “To work in this festival means being able to continue giving the people spaces for their own enrichment, it means having the opportunity to see first-hand how a screen is capable of projecting the realities of Latin America, while each day these stories become more our own.”
More images of the festival here.