Orchidea Festival Ecuador

Orchidea Festival Ecuador
by Sherif Awad
Latin artists, directors and
celebrities walked on the
red carpet when the 3rd
Annual Festival de Cine La
Orquídea 2013 was inaugurated on November 15 in Cuenca, Ecuador.
The gala night in the Carlos Cueva Tamariz
Theater was highlighted by the premiere of
Europe Report, the first English language
film directed by Ecuadorian filmmaker
Sebastián Cordero. Cuenca is the capital of
the Azuay Province. It is located in the highlands of Ecuador at about 2,500 m (8,000
feet) above sea level. The center of the city is
listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust
site because of its many historical buildings.
The festival concluded on November 22,
2013.

Among the important selections of
this film festival, the Singaporean production Ilo Ilo that won the Camera d’Or
Award at Cannes 2013. The simple yet captivating story focuses on Mr and Mrs Lim
(Singaporean actor Chen Tianwen and
Malaysian actress Yeo Yann Yann) who hire
timid Filipino maid Terry (Angeli Bayani)
to take care of their son Jiale (Koh Jia Ler).
Terri is purposefully framed at a bookshop,
slipping away through the side gate while
anxiously awaiting to pick up Jiale after
dismissal from school; Jiale makes Terry’s
days and nights extremely difficult, making
the viewer wonder why she tolerates being
a maid to the family. Then we realize that the
maid had left her own son back home with
her sister. In time, the maid and the young
boy slowly connect in a mother-son like
relationship which is the catalyst that exacerbates Mrs Lim’s maternal rage and jealousy.
Mrs. Lim is the boy’s real mother. Ilo Il
received best film at the 50th Golden Horse
Award, which is the Taiwanese equivalent of
the Oscars.
Shown at Sundance 2013, I Used to
Be Darker is an independent American
drama about Taryn, an Irish runaway who
seeks refuge with her aunt and uncle in the
U.S. only to discover that they are on the
verge of divorcing. The film has some very 
emotionally charged scenes revealing the
complexities and a reality for many modern
families.
Silent, black and white, expressionist:
the Spanish production Blancanieves is a
triumph of “real” cinema and invention. It is
part folk culture and Iberian poetry, and part
post-modern masterpiece in which the aesthetic of silent cinema – with its quotes and
its expressive forms, become the dominant
power in storytelling. The film is a Gothic
version of Snow White where the seven
dwarfs are toreros (matadors on foot), and
the setting is Seville in the 1920s. When
the bullfighting “little people” save the life
of a young woman with amnesia, they call
her “Blancanieves” after the famed fairy tale.
What they are all unaware of is that she is
Carmen, the daughter of the once great
matador, Antonio Villalta.
Mauricio Cadena Grijalva, the 
director of programming of La Orquídea
Festival in Cuenca, worked for eight years
in Edoc, the Quito Documentary Festival,
first as an assistant programmer then as a
general coordinator. His cinematic career
began as production coordinator in Ratas,
Ratones, Rateros (1999) and as video assistant
in Crónicas (2004), the early two Ecuadorian
films by Sebastián Cordero. Cadena also
had a chance to work as a second assistant
director to Taylor Hackford in Proof of Life
(2000), the American thriller that was partially shot in Ecuador with Meg Ryan and
Russell Crowe.
The idea of La Orquídea Festival in
Cuenca was conceived by Paúl Carrasco
Carpio, the prefect of the Province of Azuay.
It was called “La Orquídea” because Azuay is
a major exporter of orchids around the world.
Orchids also metaphorically reflect diversity
and beauty, aspects related to cinema. Both
Carpio and Cadena shared the belief that
Cuenca was a logically suitable place to
start a film festival because of its beautiful
scenery and its welcoming people who tend
to be interested in the arts and culture. They
decided to not charge an entrance fee to the
festival in order to make the festival open and more inclusive to the public. “Since the first
edition, we dedicated the festival to young
cinema, the first and second films by Latin
filmmakers”, said Cadena. “The international
section contains films by directors who have
been at the helm of their fourth or fifth film”.
In other words, we promote young filmmakers and also Ecuadorian cinema. We
also have a documentary section with focus
on performing arts, a retrospective section,
and an animation section. We are hoping
that these elements will grow in upcoming
editions of the festival with films that also
resonate with people”.
While the festival features colorful selections, Cadena doesn’t want to it to be only an
exhibition of films. “We are trying to help
rising Ecuadorian filmmakers to improve
the quality of their films given the expansion
of our national film production”, explained
Cadena. “This expansion allowed us to make
a panorama of Ecuadorian cinema this year
and might also allow us to conduct a national
film competition next year. Moreover, in the
context of improving the quality of new
film, we have a lab of screenplays which is
an initiative destined to help Latin filmmakers to polish the early drafts of their scripts.
We also help Ecuadorian filmmakers with
post-production services. Paul Federbush,
the director at Sundance Institute, is visiting
our lab this year to evaluate it for future collaboration and support”.
Cadena intends to make some of the
selections for the festival travelling about the
surrounding Cuenca area to reach an even
larger audience not able to attend the festival
in Cuenc 

Sherif M. Awad
Sherif M. Awad
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