CENTREFOLD / Beautiful South: Film-makers from Latin America put their European counterparts to shame

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Indy Lifestyle Online
The Latin American Film Festival is now in its fifth year and, fabulous and funky though it is, this annual shoestring feast still doesn't get the attention it deserves, not even with the unexpected prologue this year of Alex Cox's Mexico-set Highway Patrolman being the 'in' movie for London's groovers and shakers to see, discuss and dissect over a burrito and a bottle of Sol at Cafe Pacifico.

This is a pity. In a market-place choked with conveyor-belt blockbusters, formula thrillers and identikit comedies, the festival's range and - dare I say it? - depth is nothing short of bracing. Culling work from Chile (the hyper-polemical La Frontera), Argentina (the hysterical Killing Grandad), Venezuela (the historical documentary The Mystery of the Scarlet Eyes), Colombia (the witty The People at the Agency) Brazil (the allegorical The Third Bank of the River) and others, the festival manages that rare balancing act of being both populist and challenging that older and infinitely more monied celluloid events routinely fail to achieve (no names - as if names were necessary).

The themes of struggle and poverty and frankly presented sex - yep, those randy Latins are still all over one another like a bad rash - are seldom overplayed and have a casual reality, and a hot, devilish energy, almost wholly absent from contemporary fare. Which may be one of the few advantages of living in cultures which seem to be in permanent social turmoil. So look out for the tragic Lolo, the passion and politics of the father-son drama Amigomio and the unexpected flavours of Strawberry and Chocolate (right); Kiss of the Spiderwoman revisited but meaner, moodier and camper. And if you managed to miss the extraordinary vampire opus, Cronos, don't worry. The Metro cinema has it booked for an extended run, beginning on 16 September. Tu puta madre, as they say.

For further details, wheelchair access and booking, ring the Metro, Rupert St, W1 on 071-734 1506

(Photograph omitted)

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