The California Film Institute (CAFILM) has announced the ¡Viva el cine! lineup, a sidebar section of the Mill Valley Film Festival (MVFF). The 46th edition of the festival runs October 5-15.
Presented annually by MVFF, the ¡Viva el cine! selection highlights Latin American, Latinx, and Spanish-language stories, connecting audiences with a diversity of cultures, identities, and histories, all ingeniously explored through the magic of cinema. This year’s program offerings from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Spain, and Uruguay, also include three submissions for the Best International Feature Film Oscar at the 96th Academy Awards – Chile’s The Settlers, Spain’s Society of the Snow, and Mexico’s Tótem.
See the full lineup of features, shorts and more below.
VIVA EL CINE! FEATURE FILMS:
Heartbeat (Mexico, narrative feature, dir. Katina Medina Mora) Leonor, 45 years old, has tried everything to get pregnant but her body does not seem to respond. Emilia, a 16 year old teenager, with an undeniable talent for ballet dancing, is about to lose her career when she finds out she is pregnant. Leonor and Emilia will make a deal and share the pregnancy process. In Spanish with English subtitles – World Premiere
Expected Guest: Director Katina Medina Mora
Mountains (US, narrative feature, dir. Monica Sorelle) Monica Sorelle’s breathtaking first feature, a Haitian demolition worker is faced with the realities of redevelopment as he is tasked with dismantling his rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. In English, Haitian Creole, & Spanish with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Expected Guest: Director Morgan Sorelle
Mùsica! (US, documentary feature, dirs. Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman) Over the course of five years, Mùsica! follows four young Cubans who view music as a way of life. Through music, they hope to find success and fulfillment, some choosing to remain in Cuba, and some seeking to venture out into the world beyond. Ages 11+
Expected Guest: Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Patrol (Nicaragua, documentary feature, dirs. Camilo de Castro, Brad Allgood) Illegal cattle ranching poses an existential threat to Nicaragua’s Indio Maíz Biological Reserve, one of the most biodiverse regions in Central America. This stirring documentary follows the Rama-Kriol peoples — the rainforest’s rightful stewards — as they gather evidence against the ranchers in hopes of saving this precious ecosystem before it’s too late. In English & Spanish with English subtitles – California
Expected Guests: Directors Camilo de Castro and Brad Allgood
Radical (US, narrative feature,dir. Christopher Zalla) In a Mexican border town plagued by neglect, corruption, and violence, a frustrated teacher (Eugenio Derbez) tries a radical new method to break through his students’ apathy and unlock their curiosity, their potential… and maybe even their genius. Based on a true story.
Expected Guests: Producer Joshua Davis and Actor Eugenio Derbez
River of Desire (Brazil, narrative feature, dir. Sergio Machado) Captain Dalberto quits his job and buys a boat after falling in love with Anaíra. The newlywed couple moves in with Dalberto’s two close brothers. At first, the situation is harmonious, but an inevitable family tragedy unfolds when the three men find themselves completely in love with the same woman. Based on a Milton Hatoum short story. In Portuguese with English subtitles – North American Premiere
Robot Dreams (Spain/France, animated feature, dir. Pablo Berger) Based on the popular graphic novel by North American writer Sara Varon, Robot Dreams is the first animation film by the award-winning director Pablo Berger (Blancanieves). A story about friendship, its importance, and its fragility. DOG lives in Manhattan and he’s tired of being alone. One day he decides to build himself a robot, a companion. Their friendship blossoms, until they become inseparable, to the rhythm of 80’s NYC. One summer night, DOG, with great sadness, is forced to abandon ROBOT at the beach. Will they ever meet again? Ages 10+ – California Premiere
The Settlers (Chile/Argentina/Denmark/France/UK/Taiwan, narrative feature, dir. Felipe Gálvez Haberle) Chile, 1901. A wealthy landowner hires three horsemen to mark out the perimeter of his property and open a route to the Atlantic Ocean across Patagonia. The expedition, composed of a young Chilean mestizo, an American mercenary and a reckless British lieutenant, soon turns into a “civilizing” raid. In Spanish with English subtitles – West Coast Premiere
Expected Guests: Director Felipe Gálvez. Chile’s official submission to the 96th Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film.
Skin of Glass (US, documentary feature, dir. Denise Zmekhol) A journey to reckon with Brazil’s harsh inequality begins when Berkley-based filmmaker Denise Zmekhol discovers her father’s architectural masterpiece is occupied by hundreds of homeless people. In English, French, & Portuguese with English subtitles – US Premiere
Expected Guests: Director Denise Zmekhol and a special musical performance by Composer Beto Villares with Kash Killion and Sandy Poindexter following the screening on Saturday, October 14th
Society of the Snow (La Sociedad de la Nieve) (Uruguay/Spain/Chile, narrative feature, dir. J. A. Bayona) In 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which had been chartered to fly a rugby team to Chile, crashed in the heart of the Andes. Only 29 of its 45 passengers survived the accident. Trapped in one of the most hostile and inaccessible environments on the planet, they have to resort to extreme measures to stay alive. In Spanish with English subtitles. Spain’s official submission to the 96th Academy Awards® for Best International Feature Film.
They Shot the Piano Player (Spain/France/Netherlands, documentary feature, dirs. Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal) Jeff Goldblum voices a New York music journalist investigating the 1976 disappearance of Brazilian bossa nova piano virtuoso Francisco Tenório Júnior in this animated documentary from Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal. – West Coast Premiere
Tótem(Mexico/Denmark/France, narrative feature, dir. Lila Avilés) Winner of the Ecumenical Jury Prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival, Totem follows a sprawling middle-class family through the eyes of seven year-old Sol. As her relatives prepare a final birthday celebration for her dying father, Sol navigates their chaotic world, wondering how to stop the inevitable. – West Coast Premiere
Expected Guests: Director Lila Avilés. Mexico’s official
submission to the 96th Academy Awards for Best International Feature Film.
Water for Life (US, documentary feature, dir. Will Parrinello) Bay Area documentarian Will Parrinello (The New Environmentalists – From Accra to Eleuthera Island, MVFF 2022) captures the efforts of three environmental defenders in Chile, El Salvador, and Honduras, all fighting for clean water. Facing down powerful global corporations and their government backers, the trio persists, despite the danger, the costs nearly always exacted in blood. In English & Spanish with English subtitles – World Premiere
Expected Guests: Director Will Parrinello, and film Subjects Francisco Pineda and Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres
¡VIVA EL CINE! SHORTS:
No More Longing (US, documentary short, dir. Connor Lee O’Keefe) Seven years after moving from Brazil to California to pursue his love of music and four years after starting testosterone, Jaime Jobim searches for his new voice. In English & Portuguese with English subtitles
Included in Shorts Program: It’s My Way
Operation Frankenstein(Spain, animated short, dir. José María Fernández de Vega) Three siblings decide to create their own Frankenstein monster after finding parts of a discarded mannequin. But how to give life to your own creation when you’re seven years old and can only count on the help of your two older siblings?
Included in Shorts Program: Monsters, Movies & the Moon
Strawberry Picker (US, documentary short, dir. Eugenia Renteria) From a little boy growing up in labor camps to a world-class artist, a look at generations of struggle and resilience in the Chicano Art Community through the experiences of Juan R. Fuentes.
Included in Shorts Program: It’s My Way
¡VIVA EL CINE INFANTIL! SHORTS PROGRAM:
As part of MVFF’s ¡Viva el cine! programming, we invite families and younger viewers to join our annual celebration of Spanish-language and Latinx films, stories, and storytellers with this festive collection of kid-centric animated and narrative short films. From merry-go-rounds to missing socks and pet pigs to piñata contests, it’s a visual feast for Spanish and English speakers alike. Ages 6+
Join us after the October 14th Screening for free churros and a piñata
Cleo & Nina (Costa Rica, animated short, dir. Manrique Cortés Castro) Sara is 5 years old and loves the stories of her grandmother, Nina. Due to the pandemic, they have not been able to see each other for a long time. Whenever she can, Sara asks her mother to call Nina so she can tell her “the best stories in the world.” In Spanish with English
The Dance (El Baile) (Columbia, narrative short, dir. Pedro Pablo Vega Reyes) Andrés has a big, big toe problem: his right shoe has a huge hole in it. Normally, this wouldn’t be an issue, but the school dance is tomorrow and he’s got his crush Mariana to impress! In Spanish with English subtitles
El Moño (US, narrative short, dirs. Luis Fernando Puente, Lizde Arias) After her favorite sock goes missing, Andrea learns of generational family magic that helps her find all kinds of lost objects in the most unexpected ways. Soon enough, however, she’ll find out that toys and coins aren’t the only things that can get lost. In Spanish with English subtitles
La Calesita (Argentina, animated short, dir. Augusto Schillaci) The heartwarming tale of a proud and determined carousel-keep who finds immense joy in maintaining family tradition by operating the neighborhood merry-go-round. nonverbal
Mist (Niebla) (Columbia, animated short, dir. Leonardo Romero Zarza) Nicolas is a kid who has moved with his parents to the suburbs near to an ancient fog forest. The place takes on a new meaning when he starts to have mysterious encounters with native animals. He will discover a forest full of life and will understand the importance between humans and nature. In Spanish with English subtitles
The Piñata (Mexico, narrative short, dir. Verónica Ramírez) Lorena is a seven year old girl, she attends second grade at a primary school in Papalotla, State of Mexico. She likes to play and imagine, has a best friend named Julián. Lorena lives with her mother, but she would like to spend more time with her because her always has to go to work. Lorena wants to win the piñatas school contest, where the grand prize is “a bicycle.” So, she created a very special piñata. In Spanish with English subtitles
With a Wool Ball (Con un ovillo de lana) (Argentina, animated short, dir. Belén Ricardes) Among the hills of northwestern Argentina, a girl spends the winter in her hut. She weaves colored ponchos and goes in search of her friends, native animals of the area, to keep them warm with her wool and to invite them to her hut to drink mate together and warm up with a story and a song. In Spanish with English subtitles
Under the Same Sky (Bajo un Mismo Cielo) (Mexico, narrative short, dir. Ana Laura Calderón) Andrea (4) and Marina (6) become fast friends while playing on the rooftops of their adjacent buildings during the pandemic in Mexico City. But when Marina moves away suddenly without being able to say goodbye, Andrea is heartbroken until she unexpectedly finds a precious remnant of their friendship. In Spanish with English subtitles
¡VIVA EL CINE! BEHIND THE SCREENS:
PANEL (Prerecorded) | Navigating the U.S. Film
Market for Independent Latin American Filmmakers
This panel discussion is Free and available via the CAFILM Streaming platform. Ticket Required.
Guests: Lila Avilés (Tótem) and Sergio Machado (River of Desire)
Moderator: Carlos Aguilar
In line with our ¡Viva el cine! mission, this panel explores the odyssey of Latin American independent directors beyond the festival circuit as they carve their way through the American film market, which traditionally favors English-language content.