This year's 'Rencontres' festival of Latin American cinema in Toulouse was re-christened 'Cinélatino Rencontres de Toulouse'. In its 24th year, the festival presented a varied programme of films from Mexico, Central and South America over the course of 10 days, from the 23rd of March to the 1st of April 2012. Alongside its screenings, the festival celebrates Latin American culture in general, with concerts, dance demonstrations and public meetings or 'rencontres' to discuss the region's cinema and literature with practitioners and experts.
The festival's competition is divided into three sections. Among the fiction features, this year there were 14 films competing for 6 prizes, including the Prix du Public audience award, and the festival's highest honour, the Grand Prix Coup de Coeur. This year's Grand Prix went to The Last Christeros (Los últimos Cristeros, 2012), directed by Matías Meyer, and the audience award was carried off by Violeta (Violeta se fue a los cielos, 2012) by Andrés Wood. In the documentary section, 7 films competed for 3 prizes, while the shorts section saw 8 films competing for 2 prizes.
A few films were honoured with more than one prize or special mention at Cinélatino's awards ceremony: Julia Murat's Stories Which Only Exist When Remembered (Histórias que só existem quando lembradas, 2011) (2 prizes, from the railway employees' jury and the jury of electrical and gas workers), Adam Eisenberg's A Life Without Words (Una vida sin palabras, 2011) (2 documentary prizes), and Gabriel Mariño's A Secret World (Un mundo secreto, 2012) (high school students' award for fiction, and a special mention from the French critics' jury).
This year's out-of-competition programme was varied and appealing. It included contemporary Uruguayan comedies, a retrospective on the surreal oeuvre of Alejandro Jodorowsky, an homage to Raúl Ruiz and a selection of documentary shorts by female Cuban directors. The Panorama section presented further features, documentaries and shorts, some of which had already been screened to acclaim at other festivals: included Miss Bala (2011), A Useful Life (La vida útil, 2010) and Las Acacias (2011), to name a few. The festival invited numerous guests, including directors who participated in Q&As following the public screenings of their films.
The festival celebrated two important anniversaries this year: the 20th edition of their annual review, Cinémas d'Amérique latine, which publishes scholarly articles on the region's cinema in parallel translation: French and Spanish or French and Portuguese. This year also marked the 10th anniversary of a programme of which Rencontres is particularly proud: Cinéma en Construction is a programme organised jointly by Cinélatino and the San Sebastian Film Festival to help young Latin-American filmmakers to complete their films and bring them to international screens. To date, this initiative has resulted in 17 films selected for Cannes, and secured the distribution of 32 Latin American films across France, including Julia Murat's Found Memories (Historias que so existem quando lembradas). (Alison Frank)
Toulouse Latin American Film Festival: www.cinelatino.com.fr