* Peruvian director Llosa's latest film shot in English
* "Stories are universal," Irish actor Cillian Murphy says
* Argentine film producer sees "evolution" in Latam film
By Michael Roddy and Sarah Marsh
BERLIN, Feb 12 A "New Age" healer whose
estranged son is a falconer are the odd couple at the heart of
of an English-language movie by Peruvian director Claudia Llosa
that marked a coming-of-age moment for Latin American cinema at
the Berlin film festival on Wednesday.
In a year when space blockbuster "Gravity" is tipped to
bring Oscar glory to Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron, smaller
international productions with strong Latin American artistic
input are increasingly making their mark.
In 2009, Llosa won the festival's prize for best film, the
Golden Bear, for her Spanish-language "The Milk of Sorrow".
This time her film is in English, reflecting a trend not
only in Latin American movies, where the financing may come from
American, European and other international sources. The casting,
production values and even "mentoring" is also increasingly
The film was shot in Canada and billed as a French, Spanish
and Canadian production, with an international cast including
Irish actor Cillian Murphy as the falconer, the American actress
Jennifer Connelly as his mother and French actress Melanie
Laurent as a documentary journalist.
"The world is becoming smaller," Murphy said at a
post-screening news conference. "Stories are universal and if
you tell the story well, hopefully it appeals" to everyone.
Llosa, the niece of the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa,
said the only thing that had changed in her directing style was
the language: "For me I didn't see a marked difference from the
way we work in Peru."
"It generally was an open process, the actors opened their
hearts to me ... and the very fact that I could sit with them
and tell them the story was like a dream come true," she said.
EVOLUTION IN LATAM CINEMA
The changes in Latin American cinema were underscored at
Berlin by the involvement of veteran American director Martin
Scorsese as executive producer of a sophisticated
Spanish-language Argentine competition entry, director Celina
Murga's "La Tercera Orilla" (The Third Side of the River").
"There is a certain evolution of Latin America during the
last 10 years, things have changed," Juan Villegas, the film's
With the increasing international involvement in the
continent's cinema, "festivals are showing more movies from
Brazil, Mexico, Argentina", he added.
The film, which has yet to screen in Argentina, is highly
critical of the country's macho culture, showing a well-off
doctor who is essentially a polygamist, living with two
families, and the impact of that on his eldest son Nicolas.
Set in the provinces, it shows the teenager burdened by the
responsibility he takes on for his siblings and mother, as his
father Jorge always returns to his other family at night.
Nicolas becomes suffocated by his authoritarian father, who
wants him to follow in his footsteps, become a doctor and look
after the ranch. When Jorge takes him to a grim strip club and
urges him to fondle one of the women, he sits in silence,
waiting until he can leave.
"This movie is all about a macho society, a conservative
society - especially in (Argentina) the father you see in this
movie is rather typical," Murga said. "He is ... the male hero
who wants to force his son to be in a real man's world."
She said that Scorsese, whose films include
testosterone-fuelled titles like "Raging Bull" and "The Wolf of
Wall Street", had provided her with a male perspective.
"It was very helpful to get this male angle on the world,"
she said. "It was of course also a challenge for me to work with
him, I wanted to pick up certain aspects of his work and further
Another Argentine film screened earlier in the week,
"Historia del Miedo" (History of Fear) by young director
Benjamin Naishtat, portrays a gated community in the suburbs of
Buenos Aires where the wealthy inhabitants are in a permanent
state of paranoia.
The film is like a parody of a thriller, where very little
action takes place but even a blackout - which is common in
Argentina - is enough to create utter hysteria.
The Brazilian competition entry "Praia do Futura" also has
an international feel, portraying a budding gay relationship
between a German dirtbiker, played by German actor Clemens
Schick, and a Brazilian lifeguard played by Brazilian Wagner
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)