Cuba's inaugural Zombie film is set to hit the big screen in Sault Ste. Marie tonight as part of the first-ever Sault Latin Wave Film Festival.
The two-day fest kicks off with Dias de Pesca (Gone Fishing) from Argentina at 7 p.m. at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre, followed by Cuba's Juan de los Muertos (Juan of the Dead) at 9:30 p.m.
The Sault Latin Wave Film Festival is part of an international film program presented by Fundación Proa (Buenos Aries) through support from Tenaris.
In addition to Sault Ste. Marie, Latin Wave aims to promote the diversity, creativity and richness of Latin American independent films with festivals in Buenos Aries, Argentina; Monterrey, Mexico; Houston, Texas; Calgary, Alberta; Bergamo, Italy; and Zalau, Romania.
SooToday.com sat down to discuss the festival and Juan of the Dead with Fundación Proa Special Projects Director, Guillermo Goldschmidt, and the film's producer, Inti Herrera.
Although the Fundación Proa is primarily a museum of contemporary art, Goldschmidt said Tenaris and the foundation decided to present film as a means to showcase Latin American culture due to the medium's global appeal.
"[Film] is a way to share different issues, cultural and social events," Goldschmidt told us. "Independent Latin American filmmakers are doing extraordinarily well. The last 10 years were outstanding years of Latin American film production. They tell very honest stories. They tell very unique stories, and very local and cultural stories, but told in a very universal way."
Most of the films screened during the Latin Wave festivals - first in Calgary last week, then here in Sault Ste. Marie - are Canadian premieres, Goldschmidt said.
"Most of them have been screened all around the world in the most prestigious festivals," he said, including Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival.
It was during last year's Toronto International Film Festival that Cuba's first-ever zombie feature, Juan of the Dead, celebrated its world premiere.
Producer, Inti Herrera, said Juan of the Dead was inspired by the faded glory and almost post-apocalyptic feel of the city of Havana where the film is set and was shot.
He and director Alejandro Brugués pieced the film's concept together, drawing from Cuban political and cultural events, to present a social commentary with Havana itself as a central character.
Herrera told us the film has been very well received internationally, winning Audience Awards at the Havana, Leeds (England), Fantasporto (Portugal), Miami, Panama festivals, as well as the Toronto After Dark Film Festival Summer Screening Series.
It also took home a Jury Prize last month in the Films From Latin America category during the Biarritz Film Festival (France).
Juan of the Dead has since been released in the UK, Germany, Spain among others, and is being distributed by Focus Features.
"In Japan, we have four copies," Herrera joked.
Both Goldschmidt and Herrera will be present at tonight's screening of Juan of the Dead to answer audience questions.
In addition to tonight's two films, the festival continues Saturday with screenings of Habanastation, Violeta se fue a los cielos (Violeta Went to Heaven), and Distancia (Distance).
All films will be shown at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre and have English subtitles.
For more information about the Sault Latin Wave Film Festival, please click here.