Pick of the Week

Viva Mexican Cinema

It's 11 a.m. on a Sunday, and two 14-year-old boys have been left to their own devices in a high-rise apartment building. Flama and best-friend Moko are about to enjoy a day of video games, junk food and cartoon pornography. But not everything goes as planned.

Rita, a 16-year-old neighbor, rings the doorbell and is intent on using Flama's oven to bake a cake. After the interruption, the boys begin their gaming battle once again. But then another disturbance takes place: The power goes out.

Three teenagers alone in an apartment with no electricity and nothing to do. What can happen next?

While this might sound like the premise of a typical Hollywood horror flick, it's actually the setting of the award-winning Mexican comedy, Temporada de Patos (Duck Season).

Last year, Temporada won 10 Mexican Ariels, which are similar to our Academy Awards. The film earned best picture honors and received awards for best director, actor and actress.

Temporada de Patos is one of the 10 feature films, six short films and a documentary that will be shown as part of Cine México 2006 at the Loft Cinema, Friday, Feb. 17, through Sunday, Feb. 19. The festival is a collaboration between the Loft Cinema, the Hanson Film Institute at the UA and Consulado de Mexico, a government agency. Tickets are $5 for all films, with a $35 event pass available. For a full schedule of events, visit loftcinema.com. The Loft is located at 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Call 322-LOFT for more information.

Temporada is not heavy on action. But there is a comedic depth that explores friendship, sexual curiosity and rebelliousness. The film provides a window into Mexican youth culture.

Exploring the "sociology of being a young person in Mexico--dealing with crime, street life, class and economic barriers and how popular culture affects youth--is an unintentional theme that emerged as we began looking at the films," says Jeff Yanc, program director for the Tucson Cinema Foundation and the Loft Cinema.

Literary types may recognize Yanc as a co-owner of the closed Reader's Oasis bookstore. Yanc started as program director at the Loft in January.

"The films are a representation of what's going on in Mexico. There's a focus on social issues. There are gritty films, humorous films and lighter films. There's a whole gamut of styles and genres looking at the same issues," says Yanc.

But Yanc says the main theme of this year's films is that they are contemporary Mexican films. "Last year, we focused on classic Mexican films. (This year), we wanted to highlight new films coming out of Mexico," he says. Apart from two films, all have been made within the last six years.

The two classic films to be shown are the cult film Santo Contra la Hija de Frankenstein (Santo vs. Frankenstein's Daughter), at 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 17; and the comedy, Calzonzin Inspector (Inspector Calzonzin) at noon, Sunday, Feb. 19.

With many of Cine México films made by young filmmakers, the festival starts off by discussing the current state of Mexican cinema and how young filmmakers are transforming how Mexico is represented on screen. The talk, "Generation Mex: Mexican Cinema Now," takes place at 5 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 16, at the UA Student Union, in the Santa Cruz room. The talk will be presented by Carlos Gutierrez, co-founder and co-director of Cinema Tropical, a nonprofit dedicated to the distribution, programming and promotion of Latin-American cinema in the United States.

Other programs designed for students and young filmmakers include a free documentary, The Golden Age of Mexican Cinema, at 10 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 18; and a free filmmakers' workshop at 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 18, with Sergio Arau and Yareli Arizmendi, the creative team behind A Day Without a Mexican. Both events will be held at the Loft Cinema.

Two other guests at the festival include director Beto Gómez, who will introduce his film, Puños Rosas (Pink Fists); and teenage actor Diego Cataño, who stars in Temporada de Patos.

Guests and educational programs aside, the meat of the festival is the films. Besides the multi-award winning Temporada, other honored films will be shown. Amar te Duele (Love Hurts), won nine international awards and was nominated for three Mexican Ariel awards. The film is a contemporary Romeo and Juliet story set against the class struggles in Mexico City. It will be shown at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19. De la Calle (Streeters), winner of 11 Mexican Ariels, is a drama that takes a look at the life of teenagers living on the streets of Mexico City. The film follows a short film at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 19.

For Tucson audiences, the opportunity to watch these award-winning films on the big screen is a rarity. Yanc says many of the films are not widely distributed in the United States. And watching the films in a theater "makes the difference, rather than waiting for them to come out on video."

Yanc says the Cine México festival is "definitely one of the more successful ventures that the Loft does in connecting with the community. ... We really believe in serving the Mexican-American community in Tucson because of the region we live in. ... When you live so close (to Mexico), it seems natural that you would bring these films in so people in the United States can understand Mexican culture more."

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