Friday, October 11, 2013

Nuestro Cine: Glorious “Gloria”

What happens when a Chilean divorcee refuses to settle in to the loneliness of being elderly and finds romance with an older man?  The answer can be seen in “Gloria”, a film from Chile that will represent that country in the race for the next Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Directed by Sebatián Leilo, “Gloria” was described in Variety as “perceptive and unerringly sympathetic” and having “the makings of an arthouse sleeper.”

Unlike “No”, the 2012 movie that examined the campaign to defeat Gen. Augusto Pinochet in a 1988 national referendum, “Gloria” barely acknowledges the political divisions that continue to run deep in Chile.

“Chilean social context is sketched in with just a few brief verbal or visual nods to government disillusionment, popular unrest, corruption and the escalating cost of living. But the personal world depicted here is a universal one,” according to a review in “The Hollywood Reporter”.

The “universal” themes of love, isolation and freedom can be seen in the subtitled trailer for “Gloria” below the page break.  (Video is slightly Not Safe for Work).

Daily Headlines: October 11, 2013

* U.S.: Latin American finance ministers urged the U.S. government to fix its fiscal impasse and warned that a potential debt default would lead to “devastating consequences” throughout the region.

* Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro said that the Venezuelan central bank could auction off more than $900 million every week as a measure in order to boost an economy with a 49.4% annual inflation rate.

* Ecuador: Human Rights Watch blasted Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa for “his abuse of power to suppress those he sees as his enemies (that) has reached new and alarming heights”. 

* Mexico: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s name has been used in ads as part of a campaign opposed to a proposed tax on soft drinks in Mexico.
Video Source – YouTube via the Associated Press

Online Sources- NBC News; Reuters; Fox News Latino; Human Rights Watch

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Daily Headlines: October 10, 2013

* Bolivia: Researchers discovered gold, silver, bones and ceramics in Lake Titicaca that are estimated to be roughly 1500-years-old.

* Costa Rica: Police in Costa Rica uncovered a cache of military weapons including a rocket launcher and seventeen AK-47s near the border with Nicaragua.

* Brazil: Should Brazil grant former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden political asylum?

* Argentina: Officials granted a female ID card and new birth certificate to a six-year-old who was recently permitted to legally change her identity.

Video Source – YouTube via NTDTV

Online Sources- Miami Herald; Inside Costa Rica; Al Jazeera English; Huffington Post

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Daily Headlines: October 9, 2013

* Argentina: The spokesman for Argentine President Cristina Fernandez said that she is “in good spirits” and recovering at a Buenos Aires hospital after undergoing a surgery yesterday to remove a blood clot from her brain.

* Brazil:Anarchist groups” were blamed for causing violence during a mass protest in Rio de Janeiro that was one of the biggest since nationwide demonstrations were held in June.

* Venezuela: President Nicolás Maduro said that he would seek decree powers from the legislature in order to combat “corrupt people and saboteurs of the national economy.”

* Haiti: Attorneys for victims of a major cholera epidemic that first hit Haiti three years ago have filed a lawsuit seeking compensation from the U.N.

Video Source – YouTube via euronews (Supporters of Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez gathered outside of a Buenos Aires hospital prior to undergoing brain surgery yesterday).

Online Sources- Reuters; The Latin Americanst; The Guardian; Huffington Post; BBC News

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nuestro Cine: What’s in a Name?

In the past few days we have featured the Mexican, Peruvian and Venezuelan choices for the next Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  All of these films are intense dramas but today we will examine a more light-hearted movie from the Americas.

The animated children’s film “Anina” will represent Uruguay in the race for the top foreign film Oscar. Based on the short story “Anina Yatay Salas,” the movie’s titular character is a ten-year-old girl who is upset that her name is made up of three palindromes.  After a fight with one of her classmates, Anina is punished by her principal and given a sealed black envelope that cannot be opened for seven days.  As she tries to discover the contents of the mysterious envelope, Anina experiences numerous adventures that help her learn more about the world around her.

Though “Anina” is a co-production with Colombia, the film’s creators consider the film as “culturally Uruguayan” including depicting tradition meals, jargon and customs from the Southern Cone country.

“We recently screened ‘Anina’ in the Montevideo neighborhood of Casavalle and to see the kids applaud at the end of the film filled us with more than just pride,” said Germán Tejeira, producer of “Anina.”

Could “Anina” be the first animated movie to win the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film? Judge for yourselves by viewing the film’ trailer below the page break:

Daily Headlines: October 8, 2013

* Cuba: Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno said that for the 22nd straight year his country will push for a U.N. condemnation of the decades-long U.S. trade embargo on the island.

* Brazil:The United States and its allies must immediately stop their spying activity once and for all,” Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff tweeted after new allegations emerged accusing the Canadian government of spying on the South American country.

* Mexico: The possibility of a U.S. government debt default has apparently led to increased anxiety among economists and officials in Mexico.

* Dominican Republic: Pope Francis named the Vatican’s new ambassador to the Dominican Republic after the previous envoy was removed while being investigated for possible sexual abuse.

Video Source – YouTube via NTDTV (188 nations voted last year at the U.N. General Assembly against the U.S. embargo against Cuba with only the U.S., United States, Israel and Palau supporting the blockade).

Online Sources- Reuters; The Latin Americanist; Voice of America; Salon;

Monday, October 7, 2013

Brazil: Brewery Faces $2.7M Fine Over “True Black” Ad

Was a beer ad published in Brazilian magazines three years ago creative or racist?  The answer could lead to a multimillion-dollar fine against Japanese brewery Kirin.

Brazil’s Ministry of Justice opened legal proceedings against Kirin regarding a print ad with an illustration of a scantily clad dark-skinned woman wearing a dress and in a sensual pose.  The tagline of the ad for the dark-colored Devassa Tropical Lager beer reads, “A true black can be recognized by her body.  A highly fermented dark ale.  Creamy with an aroma of roasted malt.”

The Ministry of Justice concluded that the ad is “abusive” because it “equates a black woman with a consumer object.”  As a result, a $2.7 million fine could be made against Kirin based on a complaint that was made in 2011 by the consumer protection agency for Espiritu Santo state.

“The Code of Consumer Protection protects consumers from abusive advertising,” said Amaury Oliva, director of the Department of Consumer Protection and Defense (DPDC) of the Ministry of Justice.  “Advertising is indicative of business ethics. Freedom of initiative can not hurt the rights of the consumer,” he mentioned in a press conference last week.

Oliva added that other government agencies for women’s rights and racial equality expressed their concern over the ad in question since it “reinforces gender discrimination and racist stereotypes”.

A spokesperson for Brasil Kirin told the local press that the company “does not comment on ongoing legal proceedings. The company conducts its business ethically and with respect to all its stakeholders and consumers.”

The company has until October 14 to file a defense of the ad with the Ministry of Justice.

Nuestro Cine: Hellish “Heli”

Last week we looked at the Peruvian and Venezuelan choices for the next Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.  Today we’ll examine the pick from the Latin American country that has yet to win in that category despite multiple nominations.

Argentine movies “The Secret in Their Eyes” (“El secreto de sus ojos”) and “The Official Story” (“La Historia Oficial”) have been the only Latin American films to revived the Oscar for best fringe film.  Among Latin American countries, Mexico is the one with the most nominations for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film with eight finalists starting with 1960’s “Macario” and the most recent one being 2010’s “Biutiful.”

Set amidst the backdrop of the drugs, violence and corruption in Mexico, crime drama “Heli” was selected to represent the country in the upcoming Oscars.  The film marks the debut of several newcomers including Armando Espitia who plays the titular protagonist, a seventeen-year-old whose life is flipped upside down when he discards packages of cocaine that was hidden by a friend in his house.

“Heli” was featured at this year’s Cannes Film Festival where some critics reportedly walked out of the theater due to its brutal depiction of drug violence in Mexico.  Yet director Amat Escalante strongly defended his movie and called the violence affecting areas of his country as a “virus that is hurting many people.”

“It’s a moral responsibility to show violence as it is: sad and disgraceful, very dirty and a nightmare,” he added.

Despite the criticism, Escalante became the third Mexican in the past seven years to win the Best Director prize at Cannes.

Does “Heli” deserve to be Mexico’s first winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film?  See for yourselves by viewing the film’ trailer below the page break:

Daily Headlines: October 7, 2013 (Updated)

* Argentina: Doctors for Argentine President Cristina Fernandez have ordered her to take a month off after she was diagnosed with a brain hematoma.

Update: According to the Favaloro Foundation clinic in Buenos Aires where Fernandez is being treated, the sixty-year-old will undergo an emergency surgery on Tuesday to remove an accumulation of blood in her skull. 

* Latin America: At least eight people died in Mexico when a monster truck lost control and careened into the stands while about nineteen people died in a bus crash in Peru.

* Guatemala: A U.S. court last week found ex-Guatemalan solider Jorge Sosa guilty of lying on his citizenship application regarding the role he played in the Dos Erres massacre of 1982.

* Cuba: A study from rights group Freedom House concluded that Cuba “has long ranked as one of the world’s most repressive environments for information and communication technologies.”

Video Source – YouTube via user BBCWorldNewsWatch

Online Sources including Update - The Guardian; Miami Herald; Huffington Post; GlobalPost; 3News NZ, Businessweek