Latin American cinema shows global ambition at Berlin fest

Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:34pm EST
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By Michael Roddy and Sarah Marsh

BERLIN (Reuters) - A "New Age" healer whose estranged son is a falconer are the odd couple at the heart 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 globalised.

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.   Continued...

Director Claudia Llosa (2nd R) poses with cast members Cillian Murphy (L-R), Jennifer Connelly and Melanie Laurent during a photocall to promote the movie "Aloft" at the 64th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 12, 2014. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz