Cine Latino Festival features Alfonso Cuaron’s remarkable Mexican double

You may remember the Mexican film Y Tu Mamá También (2001), which among other things launched the acting career of Gael Garcia Bernal. It’s one of my favourite movies. Its director, Alfonso Cuarón, has since gone on to win many accolades, most notably in 2014 with the Oscar, Bafta and Golden Globe award as best director for Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. He has also directed one of the Harry Potter movies, and won awards for his camera work and screenplays. He’s a very talented man.

Y tu mama tambien

Team huddle: Diego Luna (left), Maribel Verdu and Gael Garcia Bernal in Y Tu Mama Tambien.

There has been great excitement around his latest film, Roma, in which he returned to his Mexican roots. It won the Golden Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival, and has been chosen as Mexico’s entry in for the Best Foreign Language film at the 2019 Oscars. It has also been chosen to open the 2018 Cine Latino festival, which starts next week in major Australian cities and features a very impressive line-up, including a restored version of Y Tu Mamá También, which will close the festival.

I was fortunate to be treated to a preview of Roma at Palace Cinemas in Sydney. It is superb in many ways, particularly the cinematography – Cuarón’s own, all in black and white. I mean, look at how stunning the images are in the trailer…


Still, it’s a very different kettle of fish to Y Tu Mamá También. It’s slower, sombre, very measured and requires patient viewing, at 135 minutes. To be honest, it felt longer! But it was more my bladder than my brain that wanted it to get a move on.

Naked warrior!

Be warned: there is a lot of dog turd (symbolic of ???? – you decide) in it, and unusually for modern cinema there is a startling spell of full-frontal male nudity in which Mexican actor Jorge Antonio Guerrero shows off his martial arts prowess to his girlfriend (the female lead, played by Yalitza Aparicio) with a makeshift weapon – a shower curtain rod.

It’s a film that every aspiring film maker should see, once for pleasure and for the story, at least once again to study the cinematography, clever imagery and symbolism. Here are comprehensive reviews (i.e., by much better film critics than me): from Variety, from The Guardian and from The Hollywood Reporter.

The 2018 Cine Latino Festival dates are:

  • Melbourne: November 13-28
  • Canberra: November 14-28
  • Sydney: November 15-28
  • Brisbane: November 21 to December 2
  • Perth: December 6-16

It’s my big Italian film festival!


This is the time of the year when Australia really goes Italian; and by that I don’t mean we suck up more strands of spaghetti into our mouths and pile up the pizza, washed down with Sambuca, Aperol or Peroni beers. No, no, no, this is when the best Italian films of the previous year or so hit the big screens in the big cities, and we say benvenuto to the Italian Film Festival.


Like the other foreign language film festivals in Australia, which I cover regularly on this blog, the Italian festival has been growing in in popularity each year since its inception in 2000. Back then, it offered 16 features; this year, by my count, there are 38.

The festival has been running in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra for more than a week, and only just started in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth, but carries over into the first half of October, when it starts in Hobart (details at bottom).

01_BOYS CRY -®Pepito Produzioni_sm

So far I have seen only one film,  BOYS CRY (La Terra Dell’Abbastanza), a gripping drama in which two young men played by Andrea Carpenzano (above, left) and Matteo Olivetti (right) are drawn into Rome’s criminal underworld and gang warfare. The more they get drawn in, the harder it is to get out.

I’m planning on going on a big binge of Italian cinema in coming days, and while there are other dramas I’d like to see, usually I go for the comedies. Here are some that look promising.


MY BIG GAY ITALIAN WEDDING (Puoi baciare lo sposo) – based on a hit play, this is described as a “chaotic, heart-warming trip to the altar” as a young man travels to his conservative hometown (where his conservative father is the mayor) to marry his big bear of a fiancé. Expect some disgruntled growling from the mayoral offices!


Put nonna in the freezer

PUT NONNA IN THE FREEZER (Metti La Nonna In Freezer).  When her grandmother dies, a young woman has to put her in the freezer, so to speak, to receive her nonna’s pension and make ends meet. Then a cop enters her life and “amidst ingenious deceptions, disguises and misunderstandings, the young woman’s scam will begin to melt like a frozen grandmother in the sun”.


Love and Bullets 2

LOVE & BULLETS (Ammore e Malavita) won the Best Film at the Italian Academy Awards and many other international awards. It’s described as a “hugely entertaining mafia musical” involving a family of schemers whose latest plan is jeopardised by true love.


  • Sydney: 11 Sept  – 7 Oct, Palace Norton Street, Palace Verona, Chauvel Cinemas, Palace Central
  • Canberra: 12 Sept – 7 Oct, Palace Electric Cinemas
  • Melbourne: 13 Sept – 7 Oct, Palace Cinema Como, Palace Westgarth, Palace Balwyn, Palace Brighton Bay, Kino Cinemas, The Astor Theatre
  • Brisbane: 19 Sept – 14 Oct, Palace Barracks, Palace Centro
  • Adelaide: 19 Sept – 14 Oct, Palace Nova Eastend, Palace Nova Prospect
  • Perth: 20 Sept – 10 Oct, Cinema Paradiso, Luna on SX
  • Hobart: 18 Oct – 24 Oct, The State Cinema

French film festival sets new record


The attendance figures from the Alliance Française French Film Festival in Australia have just been released, and once again a new record has been set. All up there were 184,713 attendances – a 5.8 per cent increase on the previous year – at the 50 films screened across 23 cinemas.

FrenchfingerThe festival was especially popular in Sydney, where attendances rose by 9 per cent to 57,427, helped in part by the opening of the Palace Central Park cinema complex near Central station. The figures for the other cities are not yet available.

The most popular film was the one that got the festival off to a rollicking start,  C’est La Vie.

It will be interesting to see if the Spanish Film Festival, which has only just ended, achieved similar growth. I suspect it will.



As one festival ends, so another begins: the German Film Festival is on from May 22 to June 10 in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, to be followed shortly afterwards by the Scandinavian Film Festival (July).

Romances languages will be back in focus with the Italian Film Festival (September) and Cine Latino Film Festival (November).

Images from Pixabay.

Good vibes with maternal dance tribes at the Spanish Film Festival

The Spanish Film Festival has opened in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne (until May 6), and will start soon in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth (April 26 to mid-May), with Hobart to follow on May 3-9.

SFF2018 edited (5 of 14)

This is the 21st edition of the festival, and 25 films are on show. At first glance, this pales in comparison with the recent Alliance Française French Film Festival, which featured 50 films, but Spanish language enthusiasts in Australia still have the Cine Latino Film Festival to look forward to in November, when we will see a good selection of films from Latin America. All presented by good old Palace Cinemas. Mucho gracias, Palace.

I attended a press preview of the festival recently, with a feature film and some trailers, and the one that raised the most laughs – particularly among native speakers, the dialogue is very witty – was the film chosen to open the festival, La Tribu (The Tribe). It looks like a lot of fun. I couldn’t find a trailer with English subtitles, but basically, it is about a nasty corporate type who, after a bump on the head in an accident, returns to the family that he has long since shunned, to recuperate, mainly through the maternal tribe’s dance classes.

There are some nifty dance moves that the cast had to master.

There is a fun “the making of” clip too.

I’ll discuss other films in the festival in later posts, but in the meantime have a look at them on the Spanish Film Festival website.

Incidentally, one of the sponsors of the festival is the Torres winery, and I must say I really liked this one…

SFF2018 edited (10 of 14)

I will be quaffing more of it in sensible moderation between now and closing night.