San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

‘Best of’ Highlights Latin American Films at Indy Theater

EL Semáforo, the theater for films that are off the beaten path and always from Spanish-speaking countries, will show the winners of its film festival evenings and weekends until April 3.

Gabriel Retes, owner of the theater with his wife Lourdes Elizarrarás, called the judges’ choices “formidable.”

He also asked that people support the theater, now in its second year and so far without profit, so it does not go out of business and get “swept away by the demons,” which is understood to mean mainstream movie showers.

The theater has a large restaurant with a coffee shop ambience and fare, lends out chess boards and often presents live music and other shows free of charge in the evenings.

Movies cost ¢1,000 ($2.35) for children, students and seniors, and ¢1,300 ($3) for the general public. For info, call 253-9126 or email el_semaforo2003@ It is near the Calle La Amargura in San Pedro, east of San José, 80 meters from the Vargas Calvo school. Read on for summaries of the winning films.

Best Picture and Best Actor

“El Bonaerense” (The Man from Buenos Aires), from Argentina, directed by Pablo Trapero (fiction, 97 minutes, subtitled in English).

Zapa is a locksmith in a quiet village in the province of Buenos Aires. The Polish owner of the locksmith shop, sends him to do a special job that gets him arrested. His uncle, a retired cop, frees him from the station. Meanwhile, the shop owner has disappeared and Zapa must re-invent himself outside of his village as an aspiring cop.

In preparation, Zapa enrolls in a course for officers, works in a police station, dates a teacher and must co-exist with the strange fiction his life has become.

Judges’ Special Award

“El Laberinto de la Verdad” (The Maze of Truth), from Nicaragua and Sweden, directed by Nitza Kakoseos (documentary, 75 minutes, subtitled in English). A documentary about the moral contradictions of a woman who had a repressive father who was in Somoza’s National Guard and an uncle who was a guerilla fighter and then a high-ranking official in the Sandinista National Liberation Front.

Judges’ First Mention

“Roble de Olor” (Scented Oak), from Cuba and Spain, directed by Rigoberto López (fiction, 127 minutes).

This story takes place in a dark time in a place surrounded by intolerance, a lack of understanding and the conflagration of interests and absolute power. The relationship between Ursula Lambert and Cornelio Souchay is the meeting of two cultures, two identities and two ways of thinking about life. Their love is condemned utopia that struggles for the consummation of a fate – that of a large coffee plantation called Angerona. The beauty and fragility of the plantation is a metaphor for our time. The story is one of a wish to live in a better world.

Judges’ Second Mention and Best Actress

“Sábado, Una Pelicula en Tiempo Real” (Saturday, a Film in Real Time), from Chile, directed by Matías Bize (fiction, 63 minutes, subtitled in English). One hour in the life of a young woman who, minutes before she marries she discovers that her fiancée has a lover. In her wedding gown she traverses the city seeking revenge. Throughout the journey, a photographer films the trip without stopping from the beginning to the end.

Best Cinematography:

“Password,” from Costa Rica, directed by Andrés Heidenreich (fiction, 92 minutes). When she is 12, Carla is abandoned by her father. To stave off loneliness, she visits an Internet café where, using her boyfriend’s password, she meets someone she thinks is a 14-year-old boy in cyberspace. He turns out to be an adult member of an organization that prostitutes women. Carla, unaware of who he is, meets him and is kidnapped. Her fate and that of her boyfriend radically change.

Best Editing

“Marasmo” (Paralysis), from Costa Rica, directed by Mauricio Mendiola (fiction, 86 minutes).

Present-day Colombia is the backdrop for several parallel stories of love, hate and revenge.

Luz Angélica, a young woman, begins a trip to Barranquilla to visit a childhood girlfriend. Along the way she meets Ismael, a police sergeant and paramilitary officer who was hired by a drug trafficker to take revenge on the killer of his pregnant wife.

Best Art Direction

Sexo con Amor” (Sex with Love), from Chile, directed by Boris Quercia (fiction, 108 minutes).

A group of parents and representatives of a fourth-grade class discuss the ways they want the school to handle sex education for their children, though for many of them there is no solution. The story follows three couples and shows how the erotic instinct and their emotions overrule their abilities to reason.

Special Mention

Los Rubios” (Blondes), from Argentina, directed by Albertina Carri (docu-fiction, 89 minutes).

Crossing the line between documentary and fiction, the filmmaker investigates the disappearance of her parents through a combination of testimony from neighbors, witnesses, and dramatized scenes in which an actress plays the part of the filmmaker. The technique allows the filmmaker to maintain a certain distance from a subject that is too personal otherwise, and clearly painful.

Peoples’ Choice

El Sueño del Caimán” (Dream of the Cayman), from Mexico and Spain, directed by Beto Gómez (fiction,102 minutes, subtitled in English).

Iñaki, a small-time criminal in Spain, receives a letter from his father saying his mother has been lying to the two of them. An accidental mugging forces him to flee to Mexico and find his father. He discovers a country full of contrasts. He does not know how to stop meeting with luckless people and stop swimming against the current in search of a dream.


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