Redwood City International Latino Film Festival — Havana Eva & La Oveja Negra

6 11 2010

The Redwood City International Latino Film Festival kicked off last night with two award-winning films — both were exceptional choices by Sylvia Perel, who is directing her 15th ILFF in the Bay Area.

HAVANA EVA —

For the second straight year Perel choose a perfect film to kick off the RWC ILFF. Last year she chose “Casi Divas,” a coming of age tale told from the perspective of four different young women. In 2010, the story focuses on the journey of a single character. “Havana Eva,” directed by Fina Torres of Venezuela (and who was in attendance to answer a handful of questions after the film) hits the right notes in so many ways. It’s no surprise, “Eva” won the 2010 Best Picture award at the Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival.

The reasons to love “Eva” are obvious. First, the performance of Prakriti Maduro, who plays an aspiring fashion stuck in a sewing factory for wedding dresses, is terrific. Maduro is originally from Caracas, Venezuela, but her embodiment of the Cuban spirit is refreshing, humorous and near flawless. A lot of her character’s success can be attributed to the writing of director Fina Torres — the dialogue in “Eva” is fast, witty, and true to its setting. Maduro wasn’t the only woman to turn in some great acting. Yuliet Cruz, who plays the role of Teresa, was a personal favorite — Yaikenis Rojas and Herminia Sanchez play a pair of elderly aunts who come to befriend Eva, are touching.

Torres’ choice to shoot the entire film in Cuba made the film though — presenting the island in a romantic light. Cuba is quite beautiful, but isn’t without her flaws. Yet, in “Eva,” these flaws come across as character. The metaphors in “Eva” are abundant as well. From a super hen, to crumbling mansions, shiny accessories and over-bearing bosses — viewing the film while understanding the time-setting is imperative. Were it not shot in Cuba, all these metaphors would just add humor to the film but they become the sustenance of the movie — Torres describe it as hybrid, a form of tragic romantic comedy. 4/5 Stars.

LA OVEJA NEGRA (The Black Sheep) —

I can’t say enough about “La Oveja Negra.” It’s terrific and it would have been even better had I been able to see more of it. Unfortunately my reservations about my movie experience had nothing to do with the film and everything to do with the quality of presentation. For 65% of the film, the screen was pitch black and the audience was unable to make out what was going on in the movie. Fail Century. Fail.

But then again the storyline, the acting and the dialogue was superb. Christian Vazquez as Jose is spot on. His best friend, Kumbia, played by Rodrigo Corea, is as funny as it gets. Ximena Romo and Ivan Arana play Maria and Jeromino in dramatic supporting roles. I can only imagine how much better the film would have been had the audience been able to see the majority of it. As it stands, I can’t give it 5 stars. Only 3.

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