Friday, October 19, 2018

Shoplifters: The Universal Art of Stealing

By José Alberto Hermosillo

A Hyper-Realistic Japanese heart-tearing Masterwork. Unforgettable!

This year’s Palme d’Or winner, “Shoplifters” (2018) by Hirokazu Koreeda (“Nobody Knows,” “Like Father, Like Son”), is a transcendental morality-crime-drama where family bonding matters.

“Shoplifters” can be linked to other considerable classic creations about the same subject as the Italian Neo-realistic production “Bicycle Thieves/Ladri di Biciclette” (1948) by Vittorio de Sica. Robert Bresson’s French New Wave “Pickpocket” (1951). Even more recently, the cannibal-horror Mexican flick “Somos lo que hay/We Are What We Are” (2010) by Jorge Michel Grau and the 2015 Argentinian time-period family-gangster-drama “The Clan” by Pablo Trapero.

Those highly intriguing films presented a family of crooks working together towards one goal – to illegally provide the group with goods that their living conditions can’t affordFamilyly complicity is imperative, and their modus-operandi is similar. They naively think that there is nothing wrong in their doing, even though their crimes include petty theft, kidnappings, ng, and, in some cases... murder.
“Shoplifters” starts when a young man, in complicity with his father, enters a store to steal goods. Their action plan includes hand signals, body language, and gracious escape.

Over dinner, the older and prettier “sister” complains about why they forgot to steal the shampoo. The “grandmother” is an excellent cook and astutdeal-makerer. 
The “wife” is tired but still has the energy to find out what’s going on with the little girl that the father and their hot-shot “son” found in a cold alley. 

They want to do the right thing and take the little girl to her rightful parents. Soon, they discover that the girl has some bruised from domestic violence. Without knowing the legal implications, they bring her home, change her look, and treat her as their “daughter.”

“Shoplifters” reaches universality by presenting a blue-collar family who can’t achieve actual economic goals with hard work in their part-time jobs. Consequently, they go out and ravish goods they can’t afford. Remember, “two wrongs don’t make a right.” 

The controversy centers on Japanese morality and the image they present to the world as a developed nation while some of its people still live in deficit, isolation, and poverty. 
“Shoplifters” is a monumental work of art with captivating performances, sharp cinematography, a well-structured script detailing every character’s background to perfection, and a convincing resolution. The film’s pace progresses the story flawlessly quickly due to its skillful editing.
Venerable actress Kirin Kiki (“After the Storm,” “Still Walking,” “Kamikaze Girls”) does a terrific job playing the grandmother. Sadly, three months after her return from Cannes 2018, she died as a cancer victim.

Actor Lily Franky (“Scoop!,” “Blank 13,” “Like Father, Like Son”) plays the head of the family, Osamu Shibata, who naively teach his children the art of stealing. The mother, Nobuyo Shibata, fiercely performed by actress Sakura Andó (“Love Exposure,” “100 Yen Love,” “0.5 Mn”), rounds up the terrific cast.

The Hirokazu Kore-eda latest film scoops on the truthfulness of family lessons, questioning who is the right person for another and who is not. What makes a parent? The one who gives birth, or the one who raises the children accordingly...  ironically speaking.
“Shoplifters” presents a cold world where everybody is looking for affection. However, the unconventional actions that break them apart make the family’s love questionable.

Hirokazu Koreeda, director. Film critic José Alberto Hermosillo
The harsh reality presented in the film is accentuated by the characters’ wrongdoings, betrayals, and disjointed affairs, questioning the concepts of loyalty, love, and self-respect in a desolate and dark universe.
“Shoplifters” is the Japanese Official Entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards® and, without a doubt, is a sure contender to reach an Oscar® nomination this year.

“Shoplifters” is amusing, unforgettable, and heartbreaking. For some audiences are hard to connect the actions and relationships of every character in the film due to the cryptic, opaque, and at the same time, complex emotions reflected in the story.


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Festival in LA ©2018

Monday, October 8, 2018

16 Latino Submissions for the Academy Awards® 2019

By José Alberto Hermosillo
16 Latino Submissions for the Academy Awards 2019
This year, eighty-seven countries submitted entries for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards, four less than in the last installment. Sixteen of those works are from Ibero-America. 

For decades, European films had hegemony in this category, until Chile won last year. Now "Roma," the acclaimed feature from Mexico aims to score another victory of a Latin country two years in-a-row. Once again, Europeans and Latinos will face-off, as in a soccer match but now in a new rivalry, cinema. Wait, do not count out the Asian countries, Japan's Palme d’Or winner “Shoplifters” is expected to be nominated as well.
Some of the European nations are taking a further step presenting a movie made by a previous Oscar® winner like Germany's Never Look Back by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who won with “The Life of Others” in 2007. László Nemes won with “Son of Saul” -  now his latest work “Sunset” represents Hungary. Poland submitted “Cold War” by Pawel Pawlikowski, who won in 2013 for “Ida.”
Besides Germany, Hungary, and Poland other strong contenders want to take the gold. Among those is Belgium’s dancer trans-venture film “Girl,” the Israeli gay drama “The Cakemaker,” and the brutal flick from Italy “Dogman.” All of those films have possibilities to reach for an Oscar® nomination.
Sweden is sending the controversial award-winner trolls-movie “Border.” Turkey sent a beautiful work, “The Wild Pear Tree.” South Korea is making noise with “Burning.” Norway's What People Say brings more diversity to the contest. Kenya’s “Supa Mondo” is about empowering women in Africa. The representative of Indonesia also empowers women in Asia Marlina Murderer in Four Acts.”

The Latino submissions are at boiling point. Cuba gets disqualified, Honduras is a no-show, everybody loves Colombia. Argentina and Uruguay look very strong. Spain aims straight to the voters’ hearts. Panama has its musical tradition. Ecuador's beautiful sceneries are beyond expectations. The entry from Peru is gorgeous, visually speaking, and Mexico has the opportunity to win its first Oscar®.

The experts predict besides the nomination for Best Foreign Language Film, Mexico is going to be nominated for best director, cinematography, and original screenplay, and “Roma” is going to be the first movie entirely spoken in Spanish to be nominated for best picture in Oscar® history.
A Fantastic Woman, Chile, Oscar Winner
One year after the winning of the plausible transgender film “A Fantastic Woman” from Chile, another Latino film has the possibilities to win, “Roma” from Mexico. The Aztec country has never won an Oscar® in this category regardless of its eight nominations. 
Sergio and Sergei, Cuba, disqualified from the Oscars®
In the case of “Sergio and Sergei” from Cuba, the official details of its disqualification are unknown.

Usually, there are four circumstances: one, the film was not shown in Cuban movie theaters before the due date. Two, the percentage of the English spoken in the film is greater than the amount allowed. Three, the producers, filmmakers, and talent are from other nationalities other than the represented country. Fourth, the Academy did not receive the film before the due date.
“Black Orpheus” is a clear example of how the rules work. The story and talent were Brazilian, but the production was French. The Oscar® went to France. 
In the “Pan’s Labyrinth” case, the production and the filmmakers were Mexicans. The story, actors, and settings were Spaniard, that’s why Guillermo del Toro was able to represent Mexico in 2007 with his beautiful masterpiece and not Spain. The fairy tale got a total of six Oscar nominations, winning three: best makeup, cinematography, and set design.

The films from Ibero-America are making big waves in the international arena. Those projects have won many awards in Berlin, Cannes, San Sebastian, and Venice. 

After the projects' success in a film festival, the cavalry of a foreign movie starts when is trying to get to its audience in the United States, we are talking about distribution. 

The biggest task for film-lovers is also to find out where the movie is playing. They have to hunt those movies at the film festival or special screenings because it is going to take a while to search for those beautiful Latino movies at the movie theaters or online.

The Latino Entries to the 91st Academy Awards are:

“El Ángel” 
Luis Ortega, director

“The Goalkeeper/
Rodrigo Patiño, director.


“The Great Mystical Circus” 
Carlos Diegues, director.

“And Suddenly the Dawn/
Y depronto el amanecer.” 
Silvio Caiozzi, director.


“Birds of Passage/
Pájaros de Verano” 
Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra, directors.

Costa Rica 

Alexandra Latishev, director.

Dominican Republic
Nelson Carlo De Los Santos Arias, director.


“A Son of Man” 
Directors: Jamaicanoproblem and Pablo Agüero,

Alfonso Cuarón, director

“Ruben Blades Is Not My Name/
Yo no me llamo Rubén Blades.”  
Abner Benaim, director

“The Heiresses/
Las herederas.” 
Marcelo Martinessi, director. 

Oscar Catacora, director

Joäo Botelho, director. 

Javier Fesser, director.

“Twelve-Year Night/
La noche de los 12 años.” 
Álvaro Brechner, director.
The film chronicles the life in prison of the
beloved former president José Mujica.

“The Family/
La familia.”
Gustavo Rondón Córdova, director.

Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, January 22, 2019.

The ceremony for the 91st Oscars® is on Sunday, February 24, 2019, Dolby Theater in Hollywood.

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Festival in LA ©2018

Friday, October 5, 2018


By José Alberto Hermosillo
FICG in LA! 2018 poster
The Guadalajara Film Festival in Los Angeles continues building bridges between Mexico and the USA. Besides the features, documentaries, and short films, the festival brings other essential works from Ibero-America and the USA, including the Oscar entries for Best Foreign Language Film from Peru, “Wiñaypacha/Eternity,” and “Champions” from Spain.


Thirty-three years ago in Mexico, the Guadalajara Film Festival was founded by Oscar-winner director Guillermo del Toro. Today, the festival in Los Angeles wants to contribute to the public's necessity for Diversity. The representation of other communities is strong, with the first film about Afro-Mexicans in Oaxaca: “La Negrada.”
  Many Angelinos still need to become familiar with the Guadalajara International Film Festival in Los Angeles. It is celebrated in the heart of Hollywood with the association of the UDG Foundation-USA and the University of Guadalajara-Mexico.
Xavier Lopez “Chavelo,” “The Mongolian Conspiracy”
The festival in Los Angeles brings legendary Latino celebrities such as actor/producer Hugo Stiglitz (“Alive/Sobrevivientes de los Andes”) and the long-lived TV personality Xavier Lopez “Chavelo,” who has a supporting role opposite Eugenio Derbez in the Opening Film “The Mongolian Conspiracy” directed by Sebastian del Amo (“Cantinflas,” “El mundo fantastico de Juan Orol).

Since the beginning, the festival has given many Latin American personalities recognition with the “Tree of Life” Award.
Omar Chaparro, Martha Higadera. Photo Jose Hermosillo.
This year, Guadalajara honors the work of actress/producer Martha Higadera (“Street Kings,” “Altered Carbon,” “No Manches Frida”). There is also a well-deserved recognition to Omar Chaparro (“Overboard,” “Pulling Strings”) for his participation in films in Mexico and the USA.
Damian Alcazar. Photo Jose Hermosillo
Actor Damian Alcazar (“The Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian,” “Herod’s Law,” “Forgotten,” “Cronicas”) will receive his “Tree of Life” Award as well.
Press Conference at the Mexican Consulate of Los Angeles.
The festival has a unique WIP Latino program, which gives economic incentives to the post-production stage of feature films and documentaries. WIP helps talented filmmakers to finish their projects. 

We also hope to focus more on outreach for Distribution Deals and have a fair share of Latino-themed films for movie theaters in the USA. For more information about this program, e-mail

We highly recommend the 8th Edition of FICG in LA because this year, the program has many exceptional films worth your time.

Tipsheet: FICGinLA
When: Oct 26-29
Where: Opening Night, Egyptian Theater, Hollywood, 
Screenings: TCL Chinese 6, 
Shorts Showcase: Mexican Consulate. 
English subtitles.


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Monday, October 1, 2018

October Film Fest 2018 in Los Angeles

By José Alberto Hermosillo
October Film Fest 2018.
The dynamic film industry touches the lives of many people in Los Angeles. Some dream of breaking into this competitive business. An enlightening approach to the compelling showbiz is to attend some of the 300 film festivals the City of Angels has to offer.

The abundance of film festivals in Los Angeles in October makes us call it: October Film Fest.

The formidable lineup of festivals encourages the much-needed diversity and the multi-cultural richness of the city. By assisting the film celebrations in town, filmgoers get the most for their money. They can attend the panels, seminars, conferences, and Q & As.

We all know that film festivals show movies that regular movie theaters don't. They provide a unique opportunity to meet the filmmakers, music composers, producers, crew members, and the movie stars. We can also have the chance to watch the Best Foreign Language Film submissions to the Oscars, documentaries, shorts, and go to cool movie premieres.

A film festival not only screens movies but also showcases the music, dances, food, wines, and spirits of every country.
Academy Award Student filmmakers @ The German Currents. Copyright © 2018 Festival in LA
Awareness Film Festival 2018 - Poster
1. Sep. 27 - Oct 7 – Awareness Film Festival
Beyond Fest 2018 - Poster
2. Sep 26 - Oct 9 – Beyond Fest
Egyptian, Hollywood.

3. Oct 7 - 13 – Glendale International Film Festival
The War Room - Poster - Focus
4. Oct 9 – “The War Room” 25th Anniversary
7:30 PM. Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills.

ScreamFest - banner
5. Oct 7 - 13 – ScreamFest
TCL Chinese 6, Hollywood.

6. October 11 - 7 p.m.
45th Student Academy Awards
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills.

Recent Spanish Cinema 2018
7. Oct 11 - 14 – Recent Spanish Cinema
Egyptian, Hollywood.

Polish Film Festival 2018- Los Angeles
9. Oct 17 - 25 – Polish Film Festival Los Angeles
Opening Night Gala: Egyptian, Hollywood.
Screenings: NoHo 7. North Hollywood and  Monica Film Center, Santa Monica.

DTLA Film Festival 2018
10. Oct 17 - 21 – DTLA Film Festival
Regal 14, DTLA.

German Currents Film Festival, Los Angeles
11. Oct 19 - 22 –  German Currents  
Opening Night: Egyptian, Hollywood.
Closing Night: Ace Hotel, DTLA.
Animation Film Festival
12. Oct 19 - 21 – Animation is Film Festival
TCL Chinese 6, Hollywood.

"The Exorcist" (1973): 45th Anniversary. Warner Bros.
13. Oct 22 - 7:30 pm
"The Exorcist" (1973): 45th Anniversary
Samuel Goldwyn Theater, Beverly Hills.

14. Oct 22 - 28 - Hollywood Film Festival
Raleigh Studios, Hollywood.

15. Oct 24 – Nov 1st. – Asian World Cinema
Arclight Culver City.

16. Reel Recovery Film Festival
Laemmle Royal Theater, Santa Monica.

17. Oct 25 - 27 – Irish Screen America Los Angeles
Opening Night: Harmony Gold, Hollywood

Saturday & Sunday: 1000 University Hall, LMU. 7915 Altavan Ave, LA.

18. Oct 26-29 – Festival International de Cine de Guadalajara in Los Angeles
Opening Night: Egyptian, Hollywood. 
Screenings: TCL Chinese 6, Hollywood.

19. Oct 27-28 -  Panamanian International Film Festival in LA
Los Angeles Theater Center, DTLA.
Vladek Juszkiewicz & Elizabeth Kanski. Polish Film Festival Los Angeles. Photo: Jose A. Hermosillo. 
Copyright © 2018 Festival in LA
Alex de la Iglesia @ The Recent Spanish Cinema in Los Angeles. Copyright © 2018 Festival in LA
Film critic Jose Alberto Hermosillo & mother Guillermina Gracida @ The Recent Spanish Cinema in LA. 
Copyright © 2018 Festival in LA
October Film Fest 2018.

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