Cinecenta to spotlight foreign films

This September, Cinecenta will present an ambitious selection of films. Among these, I would like to spotlight two interesting, must-see films that exemplify uniqueness in the medium: The Hunt and Chico and Rita.

Danish film boasts a long history and a specialty in moral drama, realism and religious themes. People who enjoyed the Danish period film A Royal Affair in 2012, starring the Hannibal television series star Mads Mikkelsen, will be captivated by the lead’s return in the highly praised work The Hunt. Renowned Danish Director Thomas Vinterberg directed The Hunt, after being inspired by a story from child psychologist Søren Friis Smith.

The story takes place in a small Danish town, before Christmas, when a much-loved kindergarten teacher named Lucas, played by Mikkelsen, finds himself wrongly accused of sexually abusing his best friend’s daughter.  The girl mistakenly says it because of confusion, and hatred towards Lucas spreads like a virus. Lucas fights against the entire town on his own.

The film repeatedly inserts the theme of a “hunt,” seen in parts where Lucas hangs out with his friends by hunting or Lucas gets beaten in a butcher shop. Despite the subject matter, the visuals remain memorable thanks to the damp colours from rustic European scenery contrasted with the lights of the city. The story leaves the audience shaken with the savagery of merciless hunters hidden within normal people. If you are interested in haunting, gripping drama, I strongly recommend The Hunt.

For the first time for a Danish film since 1998, The Hunt competed in the major categories of 2012 Cannes Film Festival, which earned Mikkelsen the Best Actor Award. I have a hunch that this will be one of the strongest contestants for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Picture next year.

Cinecenta and the Hispanic Film Society of Victoria will launch the Fourth Latin American and Spanish Film Week.  Chico and Rita, an animated film from 2010, is one of the chosen films. Chico and Rita is set in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when Cuban musicians sought fame and success in America. Chico is a talented composer and a pianist who collaborates with Rita, a beautiful singer with a magical voice. Their work becomes successful, which catches the eye of American producers, yet tears the duo apart.

The creators behind this film interestingly had no experience in making an animated film; nevertheless, their background contributes to extraordinary features of the film. The director, Fernando Trueba, produced a documentary on Cuban jazz, Calle 54, and in Chico and Rita, he faithfully transfers the enlivening music by having various jazz musicians participate in the soundtrack. The co-director, Javier Mariscal, formerly a graphic artist, provided simple designs of characters with elegant moves in the detailed backgrounds, appearing as if we’re seeing a pop-up book coming to life. The crew even spent several months in Old Havana for live-action filming, to capture the exact look of the city.

The portrayal of Cuba before and after revolution stays romantic and erotic in this film; however, we also see the negative aspects of Fidel Castro’s Cuba, such as the suppression of  jazz by the government.

Chico and Rita is a gorgeous film for ears and eyes. Both animation and jazz fans will certainly appreciate the brilliance of this gem.

The Hunt
Sept. 15 and 16, 7 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.

Chico and Rita
Sept. 18, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

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