Felipe Barbosa's Casa Grande

Fellipe Barbosa's debut feature, Casa Grande, will open Latinbeat, the annual showcase spotlighting contemporary cinema from Latin America, next month. Sixteen features will screen during the 15th edition of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's annual series, taking place July 11-20.

Casa Grande is a tender, coming-of-age Brazilian feature starring newcomer Thales Cavalcanti as a teen trying to “transcend the limitations of his upper-class existence.” The cast includes a mix of Brazilian television stars as well as nonprofessional actors, highlighting themes of class differences and racism at its core.

Other hightlights include Argentinian director Matías Lucchesi’s Natural Sciences (winner of the Grand Prix  of the Generation Kplus at the Berlinale in February), which centers on a young teenage girl who escapes her boarding school to search for the father she never knew. Mexico's Samuel Kishi Leopo’s vivid We Are Mari Pepa follows a group of high-spirited 16-year-olds in a punk band that spend their time lazily rehearsing their one completed song, writing a second song, and debating whether or not to participate in an upcoming battles-of-the-bands competition.

The Film Society noted that some of this year's roster includes films utilizing experimentation and “unconventional methods of filmmaking.” Neto Villalobos’s debut feature, All About the Feathers, is a screwball comedy with mostly nonprofessional actors. Telenovela superstar Miguel Ferrari, meanwhile, brings his debut feature, My Straight Son, to Latinbeat. It's the first Venezuelan film to openly deal with gay and transgender issues and features performances from some of the South American nation's top television personalities in a feature that has been described as being “reminiscent of the early works of Almodóvar.”

Miguel Ferrari's My Straight Son

Jose Luis Valle’s second feature, The Searches, features a cast of renowned Mexican actors. Shot over seven days in black-and-white, it was made with a budget of only $1,500. And Brazilian filmmaking duo Marcelo Gomes and Cao Guimarães based their latest, The Man of the Crowd, on an Edgar Allan Poe tale and presents the visual film in the unusual format of 3:3.5 ratio, making it resemble a Polaroid.

“Fifteen years after the reawakening of Latin American cinema in the 1990s there is greater and more varied film production, more interconnectedness among national cinemas, more organized governmental funding, more young people studying film, and more film festivals in the region,” said Latinbeat programmer Marcela Goglio. “However, it is exciting to see that the formal exploration and sense of urgency of those early films persists in the works of many new directors today, giving the region a sense of perpetual cinematic rebirth.”

Tickets to Latinbeat 2014 go on sale to members on Tuesday, June 17 and to the general public on Thursday, June 19.

Latinbeat 2014 Lineup:

Casa Grande (Opening Night)
Fellipe Barbosa, Brazil, 2014, DCP, 114m
Portuguese with English subtitles

Set in Rio, Fellipe Barbosa’s long-awaited fiction debut is a clear-eyed, empathetic portrait of a teenager who strives to transcend the limitations of his upper-middle-class family life. Seventeen-year-old Jean (an outstanding Thales Cavalcanti) contends with pressure from parental expectations, university entrance exams, and the surprising discovery of a family financial crisis in this tender, beautifully written coming-of-age story that deftly explores class differences and racism in Brazil today.
Friday, July 11, 6:15pm
Monday, July 14, 8:30pm

All About the Feathers / Por las plumas
Neto Villalobos, Costa Rica, 2013, DCP, 85m
Spanish with English subtitles

Chalo is inseparable from his friend Rocky, a fighting cock he acquires to bring some excitement into his boring life as a security guard. But what Rocky brings is in fact an unexpected set of screwball adventures. Cockfighting is illegal but has a passionate following in the small Costa Rican town where Chalo lives (the film tastefully keeps the action offscreen). Neto Villalobos’s winning, dryly funny debut feature renders that world with genuine flavor and charm by a cast made up of mostly nonprofessional actors.
Thursday, July 17, 6:30pm

Cristo Rey
Leticia Tonos Paniagua, Dominican Republic, 2013, DCP, 96m
Spanish with English subtitles

In 2011, Leticia Tonos Paniagua was the first Dominican woman to direct a feature film in her country. Her follow-up, a contemporary take on Romeo and Juliet, tackles with sensitivity and a sense of urgency the tough subject of Haitian immigration in the Dominican Republic, where about one million exiles currently reside. Set in the Cristo Rey neighborhood, which is rampant with crime and police corruption, this love story between a teenager of mixed Haitian/Dominican descent and a drug lord’s sister powerfully combines a genuine feel for barrio life with the quick pace and sense of impending danger of a thriller, all the while exploring the implications of racism and xenophobia on this island divided in two.
Saturday, July 12, 6:30pm
Sunday, July 13, 4:00pm

Dust on the Tongue / Tierra en la lengua
Rubén Mendoza, Colombia, 2014, DCP, 89m
Spanish with English subtitles

Despite family patriarch Don Silvio’s abusive behavior toward friends and family, his magnetism has allowed him to remain the center of attention his entire life. When his death is imminent, he makes an unusual request—he asks two of his grandchildren to help him die. Will they take revenge? With an impeccable direction of actors and a seamless flow between fiction, documentary, and mockumentary, Mendoza displays surprising skill and boldness as he navigates the sensitive subject of veiled hostility between parents and offspring.
Saturday, July 12, 4:00pm
Sunday, July 13, 8:40pm

Holiday / Feriado
Diego Araujo, Ecuador/Argentina, 2013, DCP, 82m
Spanish with English subtitles

Sixteen-year-old Juan Pablo travels to the remote family hacienda in the Andes, where his uncle, who is involved in a corruption scandal, has taken refuge with his wife and teenage children. It is the carnival holiday of 1999, days before the collapse of Ecuador’s banking system. There, Juan Pablo meets Juano, an enigmatic, self-assured heavy-metal fan from the nearby pueblo, who opens his eyes to an entirely new, liberating world. As his country and family is heading for the abyss, the two boys’ budding friendship develops into a fragile romance, and Juan Pablo is forced to define himself against his chaotic surroundings. Daniele Luppi, who has collaborated with Norah Jones, Jack White, Ennio Morricone, and Gnarls Barkley, composed the score.
Tuesday, July 15, 4:30pm
Wednesday, July 16, 6:15pm

The Man of the Crowd / O Homem das Multidões
Marcelo Gomes & Cao Guimarães, Brazil, 2013, DCP, 95m
Portuguese with English subtitles

Loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s story of the same name, Marcelo Gomes and Cao Guimarães—two of the most interesting filmmakers working in Brazil today—have crafted an elegant, parsimonious, and formally impeccable story of Juvenal, a lonely train driver in Belo Horizonte, and his encounter with Margo, a station controller. Emphasizing the theme of alienation in Poe’s story (and revealing Guimarães’s work as a visual artist), the two directors opted for an unusual format, about a 3:3.5 ratio, which intriguingly makes the film resemble a Polaroid. Juvenal and Margo, who each embody a different form of urban solitude, have been brought together in this beautifully composed ode to friendship. A Curator Films Release.
Saturday, July 19, 1:00pm
Sunday, July 20, 6:15pm

Maria Gamboa, Colombia/France, 2014, DCP, 86m
Spanish with English subtitles

Sixteen-year-old Mateo infiltrates a theater group in the violent neighborhood where he lives, and reports on the political activities of its members. But his perspective on the nature of their creative work begins to shift when he falls for a beautiful girl in the troupe. Gamboa’s tough but spirited music-infused tale is based on real-life experiences.
Sunday, July 13, 1:30pm
Tuesday, July 15, 6:30pm

The Militant / El lugar del hijo
Manuel Nieto, Uruguay, 2013, DCP, 121m
Spanish with English subtitles

Ariel, a student leading a 2002 occupation at a Montevideo university, receives news of his father's death in Salto. Leaving the city and all its protests and solidarity movements behind, Ariel embarks on a very personal journey as he settles into the tranquil countryside—an area under-explored in Uruguayan cinema—and learns that he has to manage his father’s inheritance, including his debts and a lover who’s still living in his house. In this fascinating story of rebirth, Nieto crafts a clever metaphor for the country of Uruguay, which its youth will someday inherit and have to learn how to manage, in their own search for restoration.
Thursday, July 17, 8:45pm
Friday, July 18, 4:00pm

My Straight Son / Azul, No Tan Rosa 
Miguel Ferrari, Venezuela, 2013, 35mm, 113m
Spanish with English subtitles

Famous telenovela actor Miguel Ferrari’s debut feature, which won Best Iberoamerican Film at this year’s Goya Awards (the Spanish Oscars), is the first Venezuelan film to openly deal with gay and transgender issues—still mostly taboo in the country. While telling the story of the romantic relationship between a fashion photographer (Guillermo García) a handsome surgeon (Sócrates Serrano), the film also explores with great panache and lots of heart an array of other topics, including teenage love, homophobia, and what it’s like to be a gay parent to an estranged teenage son. Proudly sentimental and reminiscent of Almodóvar’s early melodramas, but also taut, polished, and sexy, My Straight Son features performances by many of Venezuela’s TV personalities. A TLA Releasing release.
Thursday, July 17, 3:30pm
Saturday, July 19, 8:30pm

Natural Sciences / Ciencias Naturales
Matías Lucchesi, Argentina/France, 2014, DCP, 71m
Spanish with English subtitles

Determined to find the father she never knew, 12-year-old Lila (Paula Hertzog) escapes her remote boarding school tucked away in the impressive Sierra de Córdoba mountains. This sweet coming-of-age story about love and perseverance won Berlin’s Generation Kplus Grand Prix as well as Best Film, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress at the Guadalajara Film Festival this year.
Friday, July 11, 9:15pm
Monday, July 14, 6:20pm

Paradise / Paraíso
Mariana Chenillo, Mexico, 2013, DCP, 105m
Spanish with English subtitles

Mariana Chenillo’s sophomore feature displays a warmth and delight in life that couldn't be further from the dark humor of her acclaimed debut, Nora’s Will (Latinbeat ’09). This unpretentious romantic comedy about a happy overweight couple from the suburban middle-class neighborhood Satelite (the “paradise” of the title) takes refreshingly unexpected turns, as their move to Mexico City launches them both on a journey of self-discovery.
Friday, July 18, 9:00pm
Sunday, July 20, 3:30pm

Rodrigo Moreno, Argentina/Germany, 2014, DCP, 72m
Spanish with English subtitles

Documentary and fiction are almost indistinguishable in this minimalist but powerfully eloquent film by the director of El custodio and Un mundo misterioso. Moreno closely observes the daily routines of Reimon, a young woman from northeastern Argentina who commutes long distances from her suburban neighborhood to her job cleaning houses in Buenos Aires. In one of these homes, a young couple read passages from Marx’s Das Kapital out loud as she dusts and cooks… And though the film is practically silent, staying true to Reimon’s introspective cadence, the juxtaposition of her daily reality with that of her employers says it all.
Friday, July 18, 6:45pm
Sunday, July 20, 8:30pm

Root / Raiz
Matías Rojas Valencia, Chile, 2013, DCP, 87m
Spanish with English subtitles

In this hypnotic story of redemption and rebirth, a young woman embarks on a road trip through lush remote locations in southern Chile to find the father of a recently orphaned child. Having just returned from the city to the hostile environment of her home in Puerto Varas, Amalia leaves again with 9-year-old Cristobál on a dilapidated truck. The two clash, bond, and grieve in the almost mystical qualities of the region’s breathtaking natural beauty. In his impressive debut feature, Matías Rojas Valencia tells an intensely moving story with very few elements, skillfully incorporating the natural setting as a mirror through which we can witness the characters’ deep inner transformations.
Saturday, July 12, 1:30pm
Wednesday, July 16, 8:30pm

The Searches / Las búsquedas
Jose Luis Valle, Mexico, 2013, DCP, 77m
Spanish with English subtitles

The parallel stories of a widow and a widower come together in the elegant and sober second feature by the award-winning Jose Luis Valle, a director of Salvadoran-Mexican descent. Made in just seven days, and shot in black-and-white, with a budget of $1,500, the film exhibits that a large part of Valle’s talent resides in his capacity to tell a taut, polished, and intriguing story with the fewest of elements—great and renowned Mexican actors notwithstanding (Gustavo Sánchez Parra, Arcelia Ramírez, Gabino Rodríguez). Chance, revenge, solitude, and redemption are some of the themes explored by this small gem of a film.
Saturday, July 19, 6:00pm

The Summer of Flying Fish / El verano de los peces voladores
Marcela Said, Chile/France, 2013, DCP, 95m
Spanish with English subtitles

Don Francisco is celebrated for the effective if increasingly violent ways he employs to exterminate the carp that overpopulate the artificial lake on his property in the majestically beautiful areas of Curarrehue, Coñaripe, and Liquiñe in southern Chile. His beloved 16-year-old daughter, Manena, seems to be the only one aware of the growing tension surrounding them, as the demands of the Mapuche Indians that have lived and worked in the area for centuries have gone unheard for too long. Said brings her sharp observational skills as a documentarian to this fiction/nonfiction hybrid, working on location with nonprofessional actors to create a quietly powerful denunciation of environmental destruction and social injustice. But she also succeeds in crafting a moving and vivid youth drama through Manena’s tricky predicament, caught between loyalty to her family and to what she knows is right.
Sunday, July 13, 6:30pm
Monday, July 14, 4:00pm

We Are Mari Pepa / Somos Mari Pepa
Samuel Kishi Leopo, Mexico, 2013, DCP, 95m
Spanish with English subtitles

As the school year ends, the 16-year-olds who make up the title punk band are free to skateboard, play soccer, and rehearse the one—obscene yet catchy—song they’ve written. Samuel Kishi Leopo vividly captures the carefree spirit of the teenagers' summer vacation, with closely observed, carefully drawn characters and a pitch-perfect score (by his brother Kenji Kishi). The summer finally ends and the leisurely days—palpitating with music, desire, and camaraderie—give way to reality, bringing this vibrant portrait of youth at a pivotal moment full circle.
Saturday, July 12, 9:00pm
Tuesday, July 15, 8:30pm