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/ Art / New Central American Cinema at The Garden Cinema, UK

New Central American Cinema at The Garden Cinema, UK

A selection of contemporary films from Central America – with Q&As, drinks, and live music!

The Garden Cinema link

The Garden Cinema is thrilled to present the first full-length season of Central American film in the UK. With feature films from Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador, and a series of shorts from countries across the isthmus, this innovative collection showcases the very best of contemporary filmmaking from the region.  

In the twentieth century, Central America was often associated internationally with civil wars, social disasters, and displaced populations. In these circumstances, very few feature-length, fiction films were produced. This landscape changed dramatically with the digital turn at the beginning of the twenty-first century, which, coupled with access to film education and training, as well as increasingly globalised funding opportunities, has meant a visible resurgence in filmmaking in the region. Indeed, between 2000-2017, more films were made than in the entire preceding 100 years. Despite this progression, there are still numerous hurdles for directing and producing films in Central America, with distribution a key concern. 

Contemporary cinema from Central America spans genres and themes, engaging with a range of visual techniques and aesthetic processes. From Viaje and El puma de Quelepa, which are shot in black and white despite their lush naturalistic settings, Abrázame como antes, which engages with neo-realist techniques of handheld camera and the use of non-professional protagonists, to directors such as Jayro Bustamante who employ an indigenous cosmovision to tell stories against oppression, these films provide complex and nuanced portrayals of the world around us. What connects the narratives of the films showcased in the festival is their preoccupation with relationships – family, kinship, the relationships we form with each other and with the world around us – often forcing us to reconsider what societal norms tell us these should look like. This collection of films also explores the region’s recent history and changing landscapes, from the place afforded to its indigenous cultures and traditional notions of family, to evolving urban and natural environments. 

The season is curated in collaboration with Liz Harvey-Kattou from the University of Westminster, with a shorts event curated by film club Cinema Mentiré. It will feature Q&As with the filmmakers (both remote and in-person), as well as post-film discussions that will help us share and unpack the films’ key themes and contexts. A couple of screenings will be preceded by live music from the region. We will be adding Central American drinks to our bar menu, including Ron Abuelo rum.