By Mark Saldana
Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)
The 19th Annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival began on Wednesday night at the Marchesa Hall & Theater with an outstanding film from the country of Peru. The film festival highlights the work of Latino and Native filmmakers from various parts of the world and often presents films not normally released in the United States. The festival got off to a great start with this amazing film that left audiences laughing, crying and utterly awestruck.
Ex-soldier Magallanes (Damián Alcázar) works two humble jobs as a taxi driver and a personal driver for his former colonel (Federico Luppi). When Celina (Magaly Solier), a victim of his military unit, takes a ride in his cab, Magallanes decides to blackmail his superior officer, the man mainly responsible for the abuse inflicted on her. This dangerous plan sets off a wild and intense chain of events that will reveal the military’s crimes that most of the people involved would rather forget.
Written and directed by Salvador del Solar, this breathtaking film is an exceptional examination of Peru’s atrocious history during the battles against the Shining Path. The movie gets down to a more personal level reflecting the emotional baggage carried by the victims, witnesses, and those committing the horrendous acts of barbarism. The film is an unrelenting emotional roller coaster that juggles comedy, drama, and suspense wonderfully. The film’s performances by Damián Alcázar and Magaly Solier are absolutely extraordinary. This is an important film that will definitely lead to much discussion about its messages and emotional impact.
This movie is a superb example of the quality of films presented by Cine Las Americas during the festival and throughout the year at special screenings. For information on the festival and the organization, go to http://cinelasamericas.org/ . The festival will continue through Sunday, May 9 with various screenings at multiple venues in Austin, Texas. Some of the screenings are actually free of charge to the general public.