The most important constant in Ecuador's relatively recent film history is documentary cinema. It survived the long phases of cinematographic depression, was involved in political and social conflicts and always examined the cultural identity of indigenous peoples in the country. Its most significant representative is Pocho Álvarez, who developed militant cinema in the 1970s and over the past decade has been particularly interested in the pollution of the rainforest and the ancestral homeland of indigenous peoples by multinational corporations, e.g. in A CIELO ABIERTO: DERECHOS MINADOS. Álvarez is the only filmmaker who dares confront the government’s skewed development schemes with his videos. Ecuadorian documentary filmmakers have made crucial works examining the 1980s, such as "La muerte de Jaime Roldós"(Manolo Sarmiento and Lisandra I. Rivera, 2013), which looks at the murder of President Jaime Roldós Aguilera, a convinced democrat, or Alfaro vive, carajo!(Isabel Dávalos,2007) that depicts the desperate guerrilla struggleor CON MI CORAZÓN EN YAMBO, that investigates a random police act and went on to become the country’s most popular documentary. However, filmmakers seem more reluctant to portray contemporary problems, whether in documentary of feature films. Drugs, class differences, unemployment, exploitation, violence or a lack of solidarity are depicted in detail, but usually in the past, during the time before 2006, even though these social issues remain pertinent despite the current government's socio-political efforts. Gradually, indigenous cinema is also emerging. Till now, Ecuador’s indigenous peoples and their cultures and problems have been portrayed by filmmakers who came from elsewhere, but the current cinema boom has encouraged indigenous directors to make their own films. Ecuador has finally connected with the rich traditions of Latin American cinema. We are glad to present seven recent films from Ecuador in March and to welcome the directors Javier Andrade and Darío Aguirre to Arsenal for the start of our program.
MEJOR NO HABLAR DE CIERTAS COSAS (The Porcelain Horse, Javier Andrade, 2012, 20.3., in the presence of Javier Andrade & 27.3.) Paco and his younger brother Luis, a punk musician, think that the point of life is getting high. They decide to rob their own parents so they can sell some objects and score more drugs, but their father catches them. In his first film, Andrade casts a critical eye at Ecuador’s upper middle-classes, a society tainted by drugs and prohibitions, where young people only seem able to find their way after experiencing existential convulsions.
NO ROBARÁS A MENOS QUE SEA NECESARIO (Thou Shalt Not Steal, Unless It’s Necessary, Viviana Cordero, 2012, 21. & 25.3.) Lucía, a 16-year-old schoolgirl, is forced to look after her three younger siblings when their mother is arrested after pushing her violent companion down the stairs. But all she wants to do is pursue her passion for rock music and because of a lack of social support, she begins to steal. In her third feature film, Viviana Cordero shows a merciless society marked by violence and class differences, in which everyone is left to their own devices.
EL GRILL DE CÉSAR(César's Grill, Darío Aguirre, 2013, 21.3.) Darío Aguirre has lived in Germany since 1999. He studied art and film here, became a director and a vegetarian. For years, he barely had any contact with his parents. Then, his father told him his restaurant was going bankrupt. The two both wanted to rescue it and so they planned a joint project that culminated in this documentary, about the Ecuadorian's return to his roots after a long period in Germany. The director has succeeded in making a sensitive study of two people from very different generations and with different ways of thinking that is full of odd, absurd and moving moments.
A CIELO ABIERTO: DERECHOS MINADOS(In the Open Air, Undermined Rights), Pocho Álvarez, 2009, 22. & 27.3.) Álvarez, Ecuador's most diverse and committed documentary filmmaker, has been looking at human rights, environmental protection and the plight of indigenous peoples since the 1970s. He has received several awards and has also been censored many times. He sees the exploitation of ground resources as one of the biggest problems faced by his country. In this film, he records the drastic impact of mining, the pollution it causes and the resistance of the indigenous peoples against the abuse of their homeland.
QUITO 2023 (Juan Fernando Moscoso, César Izurieta, 2014, 22.3.) The dictator General Ponce has turned the capital Quito into a fenced and enclosed fort. A group of revolutionaries tries to mount an insurgency, but political and personal conflicts emerge, as well as doubts on whether the revolution is right in the first place. The two directors were not interested in making an elaborate action film for their debut, but in examining the inner processes of this group of insurgents and whether such revolutionary action has a point.
RUTA DE LA LUNA (Route of the Moon, Juan Sebastián Jácome, 2012, 25. & 29.3.) Tito, a 32-year-old Albino, travels to a bowling tournament 1000 kilometers away. His father with whom he hasn’t exchanged a word in years insists on accompanying him. For the first time, they discover that they have some common interests and values. An encounter with a young woman introduces a further dynamic into the story, which Juan Sebastián Jácome tells in his feature film debut by using penetrating images of beautiful landscapes.
CON MI CORAZÓN EN YAMBO (With my Heart in Yambo, María Fernanda Restrepo, 2011, 29.3.) In January 1988, two brothers - the 14-year-old Andrés and the 17-year-old Santiago - disappeared. One year later, it transpired that they had been arrested, tortured and murdered by police, who then dumped their bodies in Lake Yambo. Decades later, María Fernanda Restrepo, their sister, reconstructs this incredible scandal in minute detail. It is a very personal journey into Ecuadorian history of the past decades and a shocking insight into the police and justice apparatus. (pbs)We thank the Consejo Nacional de Cinematografía in Quito and the Ecuadorian Embassy in Berlin, as well as the friends of the Ibero-Amerikanischen Institut for their generous support of this program.