The Costa Rican Center for Film Production, better known as Centro de Cine, in San José’s historic Barrio Amón neighborhood, is relaunching its longstanding annual film festival with the help of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. The Costa Rican Film and Video Festival, which will take place for the 16th time today through Nov. 12 at San José’s Variedades Theater, was put on hold last year because of a lack of funds. Now that the ministry is involved in funding it, the festival won’t suffer another setback, according to Culture Vice Minister Laura Pacheco.
“I think the festival has come back to stay,” she said.
The festival began in 1992 with a group of young filmmakers who wanted to share their work. This year, 43 films will be shown out of 96 entries, all by Costa Ricans.
The categories are fiction shorts, animation, documentary, video creation and video clips. A prize will be awarded in each category, as well as two separate cash prizes of ¢150,000 (about $270) for the best environmental documentaries.
Many of the animated movies have dark themes. For example, “Destierro” (Exile), by José Miguel González, follows the story of a heroin addict who is kicked out of his home and begins to live on the streets, while “Plumas y Acero” (Feathers and Steel), by Oscar Cruz, deals with a pigeon’s perilous search for a precious treasure during World War II. The fiction shorts, all under 30 minutes, feature themes such as two textile workers who are mistaken for lesbians and the strange relationship between two friends who work in a call center, while two of the environmental documentaries touch upon endangered species in Costa Rica and the attempt to build a marina in the southern Caribbean beach town of Puerto Viejo.
For the first time, all the films will be uploaded to the festival’s Web site, www.lamuestra16.com. Viewers can vote online for their favorite works, and a people’s choice award will be given based on these votes.
Pacheco said this makes things more democratic. “Everyone in the country can now see the festival and make their choice,” she said.
The best works of the festival will be chosen by an international panel of four judges, including Hermann Nöring, artistic director of the European Media Art Festival and a judge for the Moscow International Film Festival. The criteria for choosing films this year are strict, because the festival is becoming more and more professional, said Costa Rican filmmaker Mauricio Mendiola, also a judge.
The first films will be shown tonight at 8 and repeated tomorrow at 5 p.m. The 8 p.m. time slot will always feature a new cross-section of films, while the 5 p.m. slot will be a rerun of the films shown the night before.
On Sunday, there will be a matinee at 3 p.m. featuring all the documentaries. A complete list of films and a schedule are available at the festival’s Web site.
Tickets cost ¢1,000 ($1.80) and can be purchased up to 30 minutes before showtime at the Variedades Theater box office. The theater is at Calle 5, between Avenida Central and 1 (2222-6108).