By Felicity Clarke, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Football-phobes will be reassured to hear that there are some big screens across the city not being dominated by World Cup action over the coming weeks. A particularly exciting tele-diversion from the soccer-obsessed is the 2010 Cinesul Festival of Ibero-American Cinema and Video, an international celebration of the best in contemporary Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American cinema.

Still from Rentboy directed by Tarcísio Lara Puiati (Brazil), selected in the Short & Medium Fiction competition category

Until Sunday June 27th, the screens at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Centro Cultural Correios, Cinemateca at MAM, the visitor centre at Jardim Botânico and Ponte Cine will be taken over by the Cinesul program with close to 250 films from countries including Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Chile, Spain and Peru. Of these, 20 feature length films and 54 shorter films have been selected for competition, with the rest showing in parallel showcases in grouped themes including “Latin Football”, “Cinesul Environment”, “Cinesul Animation”, “Musical Bumps” and “Focus on Spain”. All film screenings are free to view.

The Festival, organized by Pulsar Artes and now in its seventeenth year, is an important showcase of the best films being made in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world. Started in 1994, the festival was initially the Mercosul Cinema and Video Showcase with an aim to stimulate debate about film production in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. In 2002, the festival officially expanded into a Latin American film festival and acknowledging the considerable participation of Portuguese and mainly Spanish producers in the submitted films, Cinesul became Ibero-American in 2006.

The 2010 Cinesul held its opening event at CCBB on Monday evening, and received the most submissions in the history of the festival with the panel selecting from 977 films. “We’ve had many more than last year”, says Festival organizer Leonardo Gavina. “More than half of the productions come from Brazil, followed by Spain, Argentina and Venezuela. The selection panel had difficulty selecting, not only for the competition but also what will be exhibited in the parallel showcase. Quality is the main prerequisite and we’re sure the public will be satisfied with what they see”.

Still from Augustin's Diary directed by Ignacio Aguero (Chile/Venezuela), selected in the Long Documentary competition category

The festival primarily provides exposure for independent productions that don’t always have the opportunity to appear on the commercial circuit. The majority of the directors featured are not so well known, however a new film from Brazilian Luis Carlos Lacerda, a director most famous for his short film biographies of important figures in Brazilian culture and Márcia Derraik, director of the 2007 film “Memories of an Impossible Woman” about the life of Brazilian intellectual and feminist Rose Marie Muraro, caused a stir among the panel.

In the documentary category topics range from Peruvian cuisine in Ernesto Cabellos´s “Pots and Dreams” to the period of the Brazilian dictatorship in Sylvia de Florio´s “Estele” and the Brazilian film “Excuse Me Mr Fiel”.

It is of course very much a Spanish and Portuguese language festival, however there are films with English subtitles especially in the “Focus on Spain” category. However for anyone with an interest in Latin cinema, one of the most creative, expressive and socially engaged in global cinematography, Cinesul provides the opportunity to view long and short works by independent filmmakers from across the continent and beyond.


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