Nine spectacular films make up the 9th Annual Latin Wave: Films from Latin America festival. Among our favorites is Carlos Federico Rossini's El alcalde (The Mayor), a revealing look at Mauricio Fernández Garza, the millionaire mayor of San Pedro Garza Garcia in Mexico (see the film trailer below). El alcalde screens on Friday.
Rossini will be on hand to discuss Fernandez's controversial anti-crime policies for the city (basically, he fights the violence on the streets with bigger, better violence). Fernandez's tactics have worked. Street violence has, in fact, been radically reduced in the area. Oh, and the head of his security and several other key members of his team have been murdered.
El alcalde eloquently captures the perversity of life in today's Mexico. We see Fernandez's luxury hillside home. Inside it's filled with his collections of art and ancient relics; outside there's a lush garden with an infinity pool and breathtaking views of the city below...and a host of armed guards patrolling the grounds.
There's also Mariana Rondón'sPelo malo
(Bad Hair), screening on Sunday. Nine-year-old Junior (wonderfully played by Samuel Lange) lives with his mother and baby brother in the slums of Caracas. Junior, who is mixed-race, dreams of straightening his curly hair, donning a fine suit and becoming a singing star. His mother, who like his brother has straight hair, grows ever more resentful of her son and his childish dreams. She suspects he's gay and is determined to "fix" him. Stick around through the credits of Pelo malo to see how things turn out for Junior.
See Cristo Rey at1 p.m. Saturday; Los insólitos peces gato at 3 p.m. Saturday; Por las plumas at 9 p.m. Saturday; Tanta agua at 5 p.m. Friday; El alcalde at 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Sunday; Pensé que iba a haber fiesta at 9 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Sunday; Réquiem NN at 5 p.m. Saturday; La jaula de oro at 7 p.m. Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday; and Pelo malo at 9 p.m. Sunday. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org. $10.
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Houstonians get a heavy dose of Afro-Cuban Latin jazz with¡Ritmo Latino! with The Pedrito Martinez Group featuring Ariacne Trujillo
, presented here by the Society for the Performing Arts. Bandleader, percussionist and Cuban native Martinez has played on more than 100 albums, including those by jazz greats Paquito D'Rivera and Eddie Palmieri. And he's earned a lot of high-profile fans over the years. "Over the last six to eight years, I've taken every band I've been with to see him, because his musicality is just staggering," Allman Brothers Band guitarist Derek Trucks toldThe New York Times
last year. "After Allmans' rehearsals, three or four of us will head there, and it's funny how many other musicians you'll see."
Featured performer Ariacne Trujillo joined the Pedrito Martinez Group in 2005. A bandleader (with her own quintet and 14-piece, La Bolá), composer, pianist and vocalist, Trujillo has her own storied history with performances at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center and tours of Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Along the way, Trujillo has shared the stage with D'Rivera, Johnny Pacheco, John Scofield and Paul Simon.
8 p.m. Saturday at the Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive. For information, call 713-3-227-4772 or visit spahouston.org. Free.
Martin Elkort changed the world of photography. Best known for his work capturing New York City street scenes during the 1940s and '50s, Elkort would shoot unsuspecting subjects in natural settings -- families enjoying a day at Coney Island, Hasidic Jewish children playing, sidewalk performers, lovers kissing in front of shops -- without the people knowing they'd been photographed. Elkort's "stealth photography," as he called it, gave birth to modern street photography.
"Martin Elkort: Optimism and Innocence," a one-man exhibit of the now 85-year-old Elkort's work, opens on Saturday at the Catherine Couturier Gallery. The exhibit is paired with a world premiere of the video biography Martin Elkort: An American Mirror. Both events are coordinated by Elkort's daughter, the Houston-based filmmaker Stefani Twyford, who made the documentary. "My father was part of a shift in American photography that gave rise to a close observation of human interaction now known as street photography," she says via press materials. "I wanted to profile his unique body of work, and hopefully give a greater understanding of his and his peers' influence on modern photography."
There's an opening reception for "Martin Elkort: Optimism and Innocence" 6 to 8 p.m. on May 3. Regular viewing hours for the exhibit are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays to Saturdays. Through May 31. The Catherine Couturier Gallery, 2635 Colquitt. For information, call 713-524-5070 or visit catherinecouturier.com. Free. The film screens at 5 p.m. May 18. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7515 or visit mfah.org. $9.
Back for a sixth year and with a brand new moniker, MenilFest will take over the Menil campus on Saturday with a day of free art and entertainment including musical and spoken-word performances, visual art displays, an interactive drum circle and even a little chakra tuning. "The neighborhood surrounding The Menil Collection is a hive of creative activity," says event organizer Jonathan Beitler. "MenilFest celebrates the different institutions that make their home in this special part of Houston, in an accessible and tangible way that reminds attendees that art comes in many forms. And you don't have to be inside a gallery, museum or concert hall to experience and enjoy it." The event will also incorporate the Houston Indie Book Fest, which has grown to feature nearly 100 self-published authors, independent bookstores, magazines, presses and literary organizations. "We are also thrilled this year to present a panel of food writers who will be discussing the world of food journalism," Beitler adds, "something that Houstonians are definitely interested in!"
11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. 1533 Sul Ross. For information, call 713-525-9400 or visit menilfest.com. Free.
The award-winning Kostov-Valkov Duo (Lachezar Kostov on piano and Viktor Valkov on cello) has performed in world-class music halls around the world, including Carnegie Hall and the Gewandhaus of Leipzig. So it would be reasonable that the pair would have a somewhat casual approach to performing A Musical Homage to Sargent by Trio SLAVA in a gallery at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on Sunday. Not so, Kostov tells us via email. "The Houston Friends of Chamber Music had the fantastic idea to pair current exhibitions at the MFAH with performances of works directly connected to the art, and they had secured a great performance space, as well as a top-notch piano in the big gallery at the MFAH...we knew that something remarkable would come out of it."
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Kostov and Valkov will be joined by violinist Oleg Sulyga. (The three have worked together under the name Trio SLAVA before.) The program includes works by John Singer Sargent's contemporaries Frank Bridge, Edward Elgar and Gaspar Cassado. "We open the program with Phantasie for Piano Trio by Frank Bridge -- a lush, romantic one-movement work that [transports] the listeners to...London [at the turn of the 20th century]," Kostov says.
"Oleg Sulyga will then perform short works by Elgrar, and Shchedrin, followed by a performance of "Rossini Variations" for cello and piano, written by Czech Bohuslav Martinu, and performed by the Kostov-Valkov Duo. This virtuosic work is one of the milestones of the 20th century repertoire for cello and piano, and is full of rhythmic vigor, firework-like passages, and overall great "concertante" character. The final work of the program will be the Piano Trio in C Major by Catalan cellist and composer Gaspar Cassado. This unique work is a true masterpiece, and its exuberance is captivating. Cassado is able to achieve a fine balance between the three instruments, while also calling for the highest level of power, imagination, and virtuosity from the performers."
7 p.m. 1001 Bissonnet. For information, call 713-639-7300 or visit mfah.org. $18.
Bob Ruggiero contributed to this post.