Comments, Culture, In Focus, Screen

Celebrating 30 years of Viva! Latin American cinema

A tribute to Spanish and Latin American cinema, with a special focus on Argentinian films amid funding cuts in Argentina, began last week. It runs until 25 April in Manchester. Highlights include works by Argentine director María Luisa Bemberg and a huge lineup of diverse and contemporary films from across the region.   


This is the ¡Viva! Festival, which this year celebrates three decades of sharing films from across the Spanish-speaking world. Under the name “30th Viva! Spanish & Latin American Festival”, it is offering a mix of comedy, drama, documentary from some of the most revered Spanish and Latin directors, past and present.

Packed with 27 features and 10 short films to choose from, some of which have already screened, six of those are from Argentinian directors. One of particular interest is “El viento que arrasa” (2023) by Paula Hernández, which follows the story of an 18-year old girl wriggling out from the control of her controlling evangelical father.

It is a critical moment to celebrate and support grassroots film coming out the country. Under new Argentine President Javier Milei, state funding to the national film body INCAA has been completely suspended.

Deficit busting measures have led to major cuts in state supported industries across Argentina, with the film industry one of many casualties. Argentinian government sources cited a $4 million deficit in the public audiovisual budget, and there is sure to be a sense of loss among filmmakers and directors alike.

Argentinian cinema has made a significant number of appearances at major film festivals around the world, most recently at Cannes in 2023. The country’s film industry itself goes back to Buenos Aires in 1896 when their first moving picture was screened.

One of  !Viva! festivals most noteworthy showings is from legendary Argentine director, María Luisa Bemberg, whose films have been remastered for the Manchester screens on the 21st (“Camila”) and 20th/24th (“Miss Mary”) of April. After sadly passing from stomach cancer in 1995, Bemberg left a legacy of feminist thought, forever imprinted in her films. The “Invisible women” session will be presenting these features, bringing awareness for the importance of women in film across the Spanish speaking world.

“Secaderos” kicked off the festival last Friday: an Andalus coming of age film, with over 30 more films to follow across the coming weeks. This year 30th anniversary is putting emphasis on comedy, with films such as “En temporada baja” (2022) and “El fantástico caso del Golem” (2023) both making their UK premieres.

The future of film is facing myriad threats – be it artificial intelligence on screenwriters, loss of funding, in the Argentine case, and a lack of distribution avenues for small-budget filmmakers. Festivals like !Viva! Festival empower, inspire and fund the film industry. Spanish and Latino filmmakers, who typically operate on lower budgets than their more well-known counterparts in Hollywood and Northern Europe, need to be supported.

Dates: 5th to 25th April 2024. Venue: 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, M15 4FN. For ticket information head here. More information: HOME

(Photos supplied by the Argentine Film Festival newsletter)


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