The Latin Beat Film Festival enters its 13th year, offering cinephiles in Tokyo, Osaka and Yokohama a chance to check out the latest in Spanish-language cinema with a dozen new films.
For a glimpse of life in Cuba away from the tourist tropes, try “Viva,” a “Saturday Night Fever”-like tale of a Havana hairdresser who aspires to be a drag queen and his former-boxer, just-out-of-jail dad, who’s as full of homophobic machismo as they come. For comedy, there’s the Madrid-set “Kiki, el Amor Se Hace,” a series of short, racy sketches on sex and fetishes; not quite Almodovar, but it has some transgressive mojo.
For documentaries, there’s the legendary Frederick Wiseman’s latest: “In Jackson Heights.” Set in one of the few New York neighborhoods yet to be gentrified, it focuses on the area’s large Latino and gay communities as they attempt to resist change. As usual for Wiseman, it’s a long, meandering portrait, which viewers tend to find either boring or fascinating. (For me, it’s usually a bit of both.)
Fans of the late, great flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia will want to catch “La Guitarra vuela Sonando a Paco de Lucia,” an unusual doc that explores the idea that an instrument is infused with the spirit of those who play it, as one of de Lucia’s beloved guitars is flown around the globe to be played by all sorts of musicians.
The Latin Beat Film Festival is currently running at Shinjuku Wald 9 in Tokyo until Oct. 16, then moves to Umeda Burg 7 in Osaka, Oct. 22-23, and Yokohama Burg 13, Nov. 12-13. For more details, visit lbff.jp.
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