24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Mexico

L.A. Film Festival spotlights human stories from Latin America

June 15, 2012 |  1:26 pm


After a string of movies about narco gang wars and desperate migrants, the Los Angeles Film Festival is presenting a different side of Latin American cinema: Cuban zombies, Chilean family road trips, Buenos Aires Elvis impersonators and the flying bird men of Veracruz.

That’s not to downplay the direness of the problems sweeping Mexico and neighboring countries, said Hebe Tabachnik, Latin American programmer for the festival, which is sponsored by The Times. But while those epic tragedies dominate newscasts, she said, this year’s slate of about a dozen features and 16 shorts should put audiences “more in contact with the stories of people.”

“When we read so much about the violence, we start forgetting about the human beings. Everybody becomes just a statistic,” said Tabachnik, a native of Argentina. “It’s a different perspective.”

INTERACTIVE: Cheat Sheet - Los Angeles Film Festival

Exhibit A is the allegorical zombie movie “Juan of the Dead,” scheduled to screen Friday night and Monday evening. Written and directed by Alejandro Brugués, the Cuban-Spanish coproduction blends all the de rigueur elements of the flesh-chomping genre with a biting critique of the everyday horrors of Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

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Diego Luna to Obama: Keep guns out of Mexico

August 11, 2011 |  4:55 pm

Diego Luna
This post has been corrected. Please see note at the bottom for details.

Diego Luna, the heartthrob Mexican star who reportedly now makes his home part-time in Los Angeles, has a message for President Obama and the National Rifle Assn.: Stop letting guns bought in the U.S. into Mexico.

According to a post by Cecilia Sánchez on our sister blog, La Plaza, Luna is urging Obama to curb sales of guns that could end up in the hands of Mexican narcotics traffickers and other criminals tied to Mexico's rampant drug-related violence, which has claimed some 40,000 lives since 2006. Mexican gun laws are far stricter than those stateside, and leaders south of the border complain that many weapons used by hit men are smuggled from the United States.  

Luna, the star of such films as "Y Tu Mamá También"and the upcoming "Contraband" with Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale, joined activists Thursday in Mexico City to launch a cross-border petition drive asking Obama to use existing presidential authority to toughen gun rules without having to ask Congress. Among other things, the petition calls for expanding the “regulatory capacity” of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in areas along the Mexican border.

Political activism is practically a second career for Luna. Along with his friend and fellow actor Gael García Bernal, he has worked on behalf of indigenous people's rights. The two stars also reportedly have committed their film production company, Canana, to help produce a series of documentaries about the hundreds of unsolved slayings of women in the border city of Ciudad Juarez.

[For the record, 7:56 p.m. Aug. 11: An earlier version of this post stated that the petition Luna supports includes a demand for "reinstating an assault-weapons ban that lapsed in 2004." That information, supplied by the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a human rights and social justice organization, to our sister blog La Plaza, was incorrect. The petition doesn't specifically reference the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, a renewal of which would need to be passed by Congress, a WOLA spokesperson said. Instead, the petition calls for Obama to enforce the prohibition against the importation of assault weapons and parts manufactured in other countries into the United States -- to prevent such weapons from being bought in the United States and illegally trafficked into Mexico. The spokesperson said that the petition also calls for ordering weapons dealers to report to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) the sale of multiple assault rifles to the same person over a period of five days. And it calls for increasing the regulatory capacity of the ATF in those regions of the United States that supply the weapons contraband to Mexico, especially in border states.]


Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal reunite for 'Rudo y Cursi'

Los Angeles Film Festival: 'Revolucion' directors muse on a Mexico in revolt

There's no denying the power of a star

-- Reed Johnson

Photo: Diego Luna. Credit: Jay Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Cantinflas tribute at the Million Dollar Theater

August 3, 2011 |  2:58 pm

Cantinflas2Cantinflas, the great Mexican comic actor, was a master of idiotic double-speak, spouting utter gibberish as if he were uttering pearls of wisdom. Remarkably, he never even served in the U.S. Congress.

On Aug. 12, he'll be honored by the L.A.-based Cervantes Center of Arts and Letters at the Million Dollar Theater in dowtown L.A. with a 7:30 p.m. screening of one of his best early films, "The Circus" (El Circo), a 1943 comedy, shown in Spanish with English supertitles.


The evening also will include a "digital image presentation" titled "Cantinflas in Los Angeles." It's billed as an exploration of the work and public appearances in the City of Angels by the actor, who was born Mario Moreno in Mexico City 100 years ago, in 1911, and died in 1993. Some of Moreno's old acquaintances will be on hand at the event to share their reminiscences.

According to the event's promoters, Moreno was very appreciative of his L.A. fans and sometimes made personal appearances at L.A. movie theaters where his films were premiered, including the historic Million Dollar. There's more information about the event here. For a sample of Cantinflas' gift for gab, go here.


 Cantinflas Lives Up to His Name

 From culture to culture and reel to reel

Cantinflas: Hollywood Star Walk

— Reed Johnson

Photo: Cantinflas, right, and Bing Crosby in a scene from the 1960 film "Pepe," the comedian's last Hollywood movie. Credit: Associated Press.



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