THE PORTLAND LATIN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL (PDXLAFF) is back for a third year with a slew of features, shorts, and documentaries from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico. Kicking off on Wednesday, October 14, with the Argentinean romantic-comedy A Boyfriend for My Wife, this year's fest packs a lot into its six-day run.
One standout is Brazil's epic Elite Squad (Oct 15, 18), a scathing account of Rio de Janeiro's police force and the rampant corruption and might-makes-right attitude that destroy the lives of everyone involved. Also of note is Zoé 281107 (Oct 17), a virtual master class on how to put together a compelling concert film (though non-fans of the titular Mexican band will find little of substance to grab onto).
As can happen at festivals like PDXLAFF, the films overall are a mixed bag of good intentions, hobbled by so-so execution. Argentina's true kidnapping story, La Milagrosa (Oct 17, 19) comes off amateurish and melodramatic where it aims to be gripping; both Mexico's Pierrot le Fou-riff, I'm Going to Explode (October 15, 17, 19) and Argentina's tango doc, Café de los Maestros (Oct 15, 17) sputter for lack of narrative drive. But, first and foremost, this festival is about offering experiences that are seldom available on local screens, and attendees looking for rarely heard voices in the foreign-film circuit are in for a treat.