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March 4, 2010

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Latin films culture feast

IF you know where to look, Shanghai can be a surprisingly good place to explore non-mainstream culture from around the world. This month, fans of non-English language cinema will be in for a treat with the 2010 Bicentennial Mexican Film Festival.

The festival features movies from Mexico's golden age of cinema from the 1940s to the 1970s. Kicking off tomorrow, two films will be shown every weekend at the Cultural Section of the Spanish Consulate General in Shanghai until the end of this month.

It's open to the public for free, and all films are in Spanish with English subtitles.

The event is jointly hosted by the Mexican consulate and the cultural division of the Spanish consulate.

"It's difficult to get to see these films - they're often only available in art-house cinemas," says Sara Abad, activities organizer for the cultural section of the Spanish consulate. "It is part of our work to bring not just Spanish culture to Shanghai, but also culture from across the Spanish-speaking world."

The festival coincides with the bicentennial of the process of independence for many Latin-American countries, and is the first in a series of seasonal film festivals planned by the Spanish consulate until the end of the year.

The upcoming festival aims to show eclectic viewpoints on Mexican society. Every weekend two films by an acclaimed Mexican director will be shown with very different styles and subjects. This is except for the weekend beginning on March 19 when two films about one popular Mexican superhero named Santo will be screened.

Directors chosen range from the highly acclaimed surrealist director Luis Bunuel to the Hollywood-influenced Emilio Fernandez who is well known internationally.

To start the festival, Bunuel's "Nazarin" displays the director's famous surrealist imagery with a pious lead character that wreaks ruin through his attempts at charity and is desired by the local prostitute.

The festival closes with Emilio Fernandez's 1946 adaptation of John Steinbeck's book, "The Pearl." The film "La Perla" depicts how a desperately poor family of Mexican pearl divers find a pearl as large as a seagull's egg and "as perfect as the moon" but which through greed and ambition turns from a symbol of hope to a symbol of death.

During the month there will also be films from Julio Bracho, winner of the Mexican equivalent of the Academy Awards, and films about Santo, Mexico's best-loved wrestler.

"I recommend audiences to see one film from each director to get a view of different aspects of Mexican society," says Abad.

Organizers are in talks with other Latin-American consulates for further collaboration on future film festivals. In the pipeline is a festival of films chosen from an archive collected every year by the Spanish Foreign Ministry to showcase Spanish cinema abroad.

Also planned are a festival of films of intrigue and terror, and a festival depicting the process of independence in Latin America coming up in October to November.

The cultural section of the Spanish consulate organizes events every week to bring Chinese and foreign audiences closer to Spanish culture.

Activities range from lectures, generally hosted on Thursdays, family-friendly kid's activities, concerts, conferences and films. Most activities, plus the Miguel de Cervantes library, are free to the public.

During the six-month Expo period, the center will also coordinate accompanying cultural activities. A highlight will be a three-month Goya exhibition from May to August.

Dates: March 5-27, Fridays-Saturdays

Address: Cultural Section of Spanish Consulate General in Shanghai, 198 Anfu Rd

Reservations: 5467-0098 or,

2010 Bicentennial Mexican Film Festival

March 5 at 7pm


Directed by Luis Bunuel (1958)

March 6 at 5pm

"Daughter Of Deceit" ("La Hija De Engano")

Directed by Luis Bunuel (1951)

March 12 at 7pm

"Those Were The Days, Mr Simon!" ("Ay Que Tiempos Don Simon!")

Directed by Julio Bracho (1941)

March 13 at 5pm

"The Coward" ("La Cobarde")

Directed by Julio Bracho (1952)

March 19 at 7pm

"Santo In The Wax Museum" ("Santo En El Mueseo De Cera")

Directed by Alfonso Corona Blake and Manuel San Fernando (1963)

March 20 at 5pm

"Santo vs The She-Wolves" ("Santo Contra Las Lobas")

Directed by Ruben Galindo (1976)

March 26 at 7pm

"Town Tale" ("Pueblerina")

Directed by Emilio Fernandez (1949)

March 27 at 5pm

"The Pearl" ("La Perla")

Directed by Emilio Fernandez (1945)

All films are screened in Spanish with English subtitles. Entrance is free. RSVP:


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