Cine Las Americas 18 Review: Shorts

By Mark Saldana

One of things I adore about this film festival is the fact that before several of the feature screenings, a short film is presented.  This really helps the filmmakers who make short films find audiences that might have ignored or missed these films when they are only screened at special shorts showcases.  This year, I viewed a total of five shorts, all of which are getting positive reviews from me.  The films I saw came from the U.S. (Leonard Peres), Mexico (Inch Allah), Argentina (Deseo), Brazil (I Do), Uruguay (Soberano Papeleo).  Each are quite remarkable and highly testimonial of the talent that comes from their respective countries.


Leonard Peres






Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

From writer/director Missy Hernandez comes this striking and almost frightening experience of a film that blurs reality, fantasy, and time.  The title character is a Cuban-American professor who has a stroke while attempting to deliver a lecture.  His mind goes back and forth from an interview with a journalist to memories of youth.  The film takes it audience on a journey that serves as a reflection of life and inevitability of mortality.  Hernandez may tread upon familiar territory, but its presentation still packs a wallop.


Deseo (Desire)






Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Argentinian writer/director Carolina Cortella presents a full night with three young friends who are absolutely lost in life, and are madly seeking the right paths to happiness.  Each individual young woman has dreams and desires, but needs to decide if these goals and fantasies are truly what they each need.  This impressive film that consists of dialogue and improvisation feels very reminiscent of the independent films of John Cassavettes and more recently, Richard Linklater. Cortella writes, directs, and acts in the film and succeeds on all levels.  I hope this exceptional short gets the attention of people who will help her get more work in filmmaking, as she clearly deserves it.


I Do






Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)

From Brazilian filmmaker Felipe Cabral, comes this comedy of errors when Junior decides to propose to his boyfriend Andre.  Junior wants all of their closest friends there to surprise Andre after he pops the big question and is obviously confident that Andre will accept.  However, things get quite uncomfortable, awkward and complicated when Andre reveals that he never wants to get married, despite the law’s recognition of their right to do so.  Much like the madcap antics of television sitcoms, this film delivers laughs and heart.  Cabral keeps his film simple, direct and entertaining without getting overly political or preachy.  The result is a fun short that obviously draws its inspiration from comedy classics, but keeps its subject matter hip and modern.


Inch’ Allah






Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

From Mexico, this lovely documentary takes the audience through the daily routines and rituals of Said, a Moroccan immigrant who works as a maintenance man for a hotel in Mexico.  Feeling sad, lonely, and out of his element. Said clings to his religious rituals which he holds dearly, yet works hard to keep his job.  Reaching out for at least a friend, Said attempts to communicate with Ceferina, a quiet and also lonely hotel maid.  Because of her fears, she ignores Said, but eventually discovers that her anxieties may be unfounded.

This film by Angelica Romanini is definitely an important and highly relevant story that people of all walks in life definitely need to see.  The road to tolerance and peaceful coexistence may always be a challenge to people whose fears feed off of ignorance and hate.  This short obviously is not the cure to the woes of the world, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.  I can easily see this short expanded into a feature film with larger and more in-depth story.  At the same time, this would not be necessary as this fourteen-minute short film speaks volumes.


Soberano Papeleo (Sovereign Paperwork)






Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

This gorgeous and impressive-looking stop-motion animated short from Uruguay follows what starts off as a tedious work day for an office clerk.  Sometimes, the simplest and most unassuming looking items can prove to be treasures with endless possibilities.  This dialogue-free animated short film by Lala Severino features superbly crafted animation reminiscent of Fred Stuhr’s music videos which he made for the rock band, Tool.  Though not as dark and disturbing as some of those films can get, I definitely see an influence.  I also see how this inspiration has genuinely helped Severino’s talent blossom and develop some unique stylings.  I’d love to watch and experience more of Severino’s impressive art work.

Leave a comment