If you want to get all technical about it, The Rolling Stones Olé, Olé, Olé!: A Trip Across Latin America isn't exactly a Latin American film. But considering the edgy rockers were once banned from several countries in the region, last year's triumphant ten-concert victory lap through Latin America is both newsworthy and historically relevant. Director Paul Dugdale has creatively woven together backstage antics, concert footage and shots of devoted fans who thumbed their noses at military dictatorships by listening to the Stones as a form of freedom of expression.
Olé, Olé, Olé! screens on opening night of Latin Wave 12: New Films From Latin America, presented by Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in association with creative partner Fundación PROA-Buenos Aires. "[The film] shows them on this tour, where they played, the people of the countries. You hear from the Stones themselves about their experiences, how they weren't allowed to go to certain countries," says Marian Luntz, MFAH's film curator. "It reflects part of the history of Latin America."
The festival, now in its 12th year, also gives Houston bragging rights as a flagship city. "Tenaris has been a very supportive sponsor for more than a decade. PROA is a creative partner; we work with their colleagues there every year and they help with the film selection," says Luntz. "We're very proud. After establishing Latin Wave in Houston, Tenaris and PROA have gone on to establish Latin American film festivals in other cities in Canada, Italy, Romania and Mexico."
This year's program features the strong presence of female filmmakers, including two entries from Spanish documentarian Maite Alberdi. "I personally was such a fan of her first film, Tea Time, from 2014," says Luntz, about a group of women in their seventies and eighties who met in college and continued to meet over the decades. "[Alberdi] follows them; she's a fly on the wall as they talk abut their lives, politics, relationships, husbands, kids – all while having amazing spreads of tea. It's very much about women connecting and the bonds of friendship."
Alberdi's other film, The Grown-Ups (Los niños), is an observational documentary about Down syndrome adults who have been trained to work in a school's bakery kitchen. "We also see them in classroom situations, becoming conscious adults. What's interesting for audience members is to hear the people in the film, the subjects, tell their own stories: their goals and dreams and hopes for their lives."
Latin Wave is also fun for audience members because it's an opportunity to rub elbows with filmmakers, actors and directors. Look for special guest appearances by writer/director/cinematographer Yanillys Pérez (Jeffrey), writer-director Iván Gaona (Guilty Men/Pariente) and writer-director Carlos Lechuga (Santa & Andrés).
There's plenty of talent onscreen, too, ranging from up-and-coming young singer Jeffrey, who dreams of breaking out of the streets of Santo Domingo to become a professional reggaeton singer (Luntz labels him "charismatic" and says, "We're all rooting for him"), to a very famous face in Brazilian actress Sonia Braga (The Milagro Beanfield War, Kiss of the Spider Woman).
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"A film from Brazil is our closing film, Aquarius," says Luntz. "It's a tour de force about an older woman caught in a series of circumstances and how she responds to that situation. [Braga] is riveting to watch on screen," adds Luntz about the David and Goliath story of a lone holdout against a big developer.
Jeffrey screens at 7:30 p.m. April 27 and 5 p.m. April 29. The Rolling Stones Olé, Olé, Olé!: A Trip Across Latin America screens at 9 p.m. April 27 and 29. The Grown-Ups (Los niños) screens at 5:30 p.m. April 28. Guilty Men (Pariente) screens at 7 p.m. April 28 and 1 p.m. April 30. Santa & Andrés screens at 9:30 p.m. April 28 and 7 p.m. April 29. Treasures (Tesoros) screens at 1 p.m. April 29. Tea Time (La once) screens at 3 p.m. April 29. El Amparo screens at 3:15 p.m. April 30. The Tenth Man (El rey del once) is at 5 p.m. April 30. Aquarius screens at 7 p.m. April 30.
Latin Wave 12: New Films From Latin America runs April 27-30, 1001 Bissonnet, 713-639-7515, mfah.org/films. $8 to $10 (free for students on Sundays).