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A Taste of Mexico in Prague

Exciting Movies Screened as Part of Film Festival

MPIFF is a Prague-based film festival screening motion pictures from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America. This will be the festival’s second year, with events taking place from 11 to 15 September.

MPIFF is a cultural event organized by independent producers who want to bring Latin American cinema to the Czech Republic in order to show a new cinematic vision. In 2019, one of the owners of Las Adelitas, Patricio Ibarguengoitia, in collaboration with Damian Alcázar (readers will remember him for his portrayal of a drug lord in Netflix’s Narcos), decided to host screenings of a series of acclaimed Mexican movies, hoping to provide the Latin American diaspora with a community event while introducing other Prague residents to their native culture.

There was clearly an appetite for it: rooms were packed and cinephiles’ only complaint was, “Why only seven movies?”

This year, Ibarguengoitia, Alcázar, and consultant Erik Jurado have set their sights higher. Last year’s festival  comprised a series of film screenings, but in 2020 the organisers have created a fully fledged film festival. As well as viewing some of Latin America’s most exciting films, visitors will be able to attend a Q&A with Mexican cinematographer Antonio Riestra, and a panel of internationally acclaimed judges will appraise amateurs’ shorts. In Jurado’s words, this year’s event will be “bigger, better, stronger”

This year, the film screenings will take place in three locations, namely arthouse cinemas Kino Pilotů in Vršovice and Kino Světozor in the centre, and Instituto Cervantes, a Spanish-language cultural centre.

Alongside a range of documentaries (including Tempestad, which follows the journey of two women across Mexico), MPIFF is screening three critically acclaimed Mexican films. Chicuarotes, a crime melodrama, follows two young men trying to survive in Mexico City. In a chilling opening scene, the teenagers, dressed as clowns, attempt to busk on a crowded and dusty bus. Their efforts to get their hands on some pesos are rebuffed and the pair resort to threatening the passengers. The image of a young man in clown makeup brandishing a gun may be familiar, but director Gael García Bernal manages to make it seem fresh, confronting us with the overlap of tragedy and comedy.

Antonio Riestra
Antonio Riestra

 

Hari Samas’ 2019 film This is not Berlin  is set in the 1980s, an outsider gets invited to a mythical nightclub where he’s unleashed to punk, sexual liberty and drugs.

The third film, Polvo (Powder), tackles the issue of the drug trade in Mexico. When a shipment of cocaine ends up in his hometown, cartel member El Chato must step into the past to retrieve it. José María Yazpik directs.

While the festival mostly targets Prague’s Latin American demographic, non-Spanish speakers shouldn’t be put off. All films will be screened with English subtitles. Antonio Riestra’s Q&A

(“Q&A with Antonio Riestra – Movie: Pa Negre.”) explicitly caters to an international audience, specifically film students and cinematography enthusiasts.

One of the most exciting aspects of this year’s festival is the competition. Latin American citizens are invited to submit their shorts and documentaries to be assessed by a panel of judges, each with their own area of expertise. The winning film will be screened as part of the festival.

It’s a shame that such an exciting festival has coincided with the unprecedented events of 2020. It has hardly been a great year for festivals, especially indoor ones. On the subject of the global pandemic, Jurado says the organisers have had to contend with sponsors dropping out and caps on venue capacities, as well as travel restrictions affecting some of the festival’s international guests. Despite this, the organisers have created an attractive itinerary.

One of the great advantages of living in an international city like Prague is the opportunity to experience different cultures. Combine a visit to Las Adelitas with a Q&A from one of Mexico’s best cinematographers, and get a taste of the best of Latin American culture.

 

For more information and to register interest, please visit  www.mpiff.org Information about tickets will be announced on the website.