BEST FEATURE FILM
Habana Eva (Cuba/France/Venezuela, 2010). Directed by Fina Torres /106 min.
A romantic comedy involving a gorgeous Cuban seamstress (plus her equally gorgeous friends), her Cuban boyfriend, and a stud of a Venezuelan photographer. How this movie won this year’s CineFestival, I wish I could tell you — I stopped watching after 30 minutes. After a few shots and a series of cold showers, I was able to finish it and I can tell you this: if you like predictable silly little comedies with good looking actors, stunning views, and dynamite soundtracks, this movie is for you. 9:30pm Sat, Feb 5.
BEST SHORT FILM
Rooftop Wars (USA, 2010). Directed by Miguel Silveira /16 min.
In film school they advise novices to never try to make a film with animals or children. There are no dogs here, but Brazilian Silveira used plenty of kids and defied all odds with this little masterpiece that mixes Vietnam, both realism and surrealism, and urine-filled balloons. A must-see. 8pm Thu, Feb 3, (followed by Pablo Véliz’s Cartoneo y nopalitos; read review here).
BEST STUDENT FILM
We March (USA, 2010). Directed by Emileigh Potter /11 min.
Directed by SA’s 17-year-old Potter (Premio Mesquite Winner: Emerging Artist Award), this film is a message to those who want to eliminate César Chávez’s name from Texas’ history books: “Don’t even try.” 10am Sat, Feb 5.
Latinos Living the American Dream (USA, 2010). Directed and produced by Eva Longoria /47 min.
“The American Dream? Yeah, you have to be asleep to believe it.” The Latin Americans profiled in this documentary, which compiles successful, inspiring Latino lives, couldn’t disagree more with that line. My favorite story: a man who takes a lower-paying job as a janitor in a NY university so his children could attend that same university for free. Which is exactly what they did. The boys are now community organizers in Brooklyn. Eva’s presence is not confirmed yet, but Jesse Borrego and Esai Morales will be attending. 8pm Sat, Feb 5, following the 6pm Premio Mesquite Awards dinner. A $75 Red Carpet Awards pass is good for all Saturday films, dinner, and after party.
TEXAS LEGENDS SHORTS PROGRAM
Bedhead (USA, 1991). Directed by Robert Rodríguez /8 min.
While a student at UT Austin, Robert Rodríguez used his family to shoot this fast-paced, telekinetic-powered comedy. The awards — and money — he earned allowed him to make his big breakthrough: El Mariachi. 4pm, Sat, Feb 5. The program includes shorts by Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket, 1992), Jan Krawitz (Styx, 1976), Richard Linklater (Woodshock, 1985), Brian Hansen (Speed of Light, 1981), and Tobe Hooper (The Heisters, 1965).
Immigrant Nation! The Battle for the Dream (USA, 2009). Directed by Esaú Meléndez /90 min.
A moving documentary on Elvira Arellano, who defied deportation and sought and received sanctuary at a Chicago church. The single mother of a U.S. citizen, her struggle gave face to the fight against HR 4437. Noon Sat, Feb 5.
The Storm That Swept Mexico (USA, 2010). Directed by Ray Telles /124 min.
This fascinating documentary begins with the 1910 Mexican Revolution (including rare footage of Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata) and goes all the way to 1968’s Tlatelolco massacre. An entertaining two-hour lesson on the history of Mexico’s presidents that helps explain the Mexico of today and the role played by the U.S. in the nation’s development. 2pm Fri, Feb 4. Preceded by a U.S. Latino Film panel at 1pm.
As Long as I Remember: American Veteranos (USA, 2010). Directed by Laura Varela 56 min.
A stirring doc on the effects the Vietnam war had on three local artists: visual artist Juan Farías, author Michael Rodríguez, and poet/performance artist Eduardo Garza. The program begins at 12:30pm with Bolivia’s Mamachas del Ring (dir. Betty M. Park), and continues at 2pm with Katrina’s Son (dir. Ya’Ke Smith), La Gloria: Contemporary Art in the Cultural Zone (dir. Brandon Keropian Olmos), and closes with Varela’s film.