This year’s edition of our annual LACIS Festival de Cine splits a spotlight on South and Central American cinema between restorations of black-and-white classics and the first area screenings of two exciting new features. The selections begin with Emilio Fernández’ revelatory musical melodrama, Victims of Sin, and the second program is a double feature of Argentine films noir from the late 1940s and early 1950s: If I Should Die Before I Wake and Hardly a Criminal. Our Premiere selections are the Brazilian Pictures of Ghosts, Kleber Mendonça Filho’s marvelous essay movie about Recife’s movie theaters, and, from Argentina and Chile, The Settlers.  The series is presented with the generous support of Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies (LACIS) at UW-Madison. Special Thanks to Alberto Vargas, Sarah Ripp, Sarah McKinnon.

  • Fri., Feb. 9 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Cabaret performer Violeta (Sevilla) adopts the abandoned child of prostitute Rita (Montaner) and Rodolfo (Acosta), Rita’s murderous pimp. Motherhood forces Violeta to give up her career, but her happiness is jeopardized when Rodolfo, freed from prison, seeks to reclaim his son. Best known for his Steinbeck adaptation, The Pearl (1947), Fernández infuses Victims with impassioned songs and performances by Sevilla, an icon of Mexican cinema and a purveyor of African, Caribbean, and Cuban dance styles. Fernández, who was also celebrated for his performance as The Wild Bunch’s debauched villain, delivered in his finest work behind the camera a unique blend of film noir, melodrama, and musical. A new 4K DCP, fully restored from the original 35mm nitrate camera negative by Peter Conheim (Cinema Preservation Alliance/USA) and Viviana Garcia-Besné (Permanencia Voluntaria/Mexico), will be screened. The restoration is co-produced by Permanencia Voluntaria and Cinema Preservation Alliance, with further assistance from IMCINE and the Academy Film Archive.

  • Fri., Feb. 16 | 6:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Sworn to an oath of secrecy, a frightened schoolboy is determined to track down an abductor of children without telling any adults or police. Expressionistically told from the child’s point of view, this marvelous and visually arresting Argentine thriller is an adaptation of a short story by Cornell Woolrich (Rear Window). Director Christensen’s style recalls Fritz Lang’s M and anticipates Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter. 35mm restored print courtesy UCLA Film & Television Archive and Film Noir Foundation.

  • Fri., Feb. 16 | 7:30 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Director Fregonese tells the true story of José Moran, who embezzled from his Buenos Aires employers and planned to reclaim the loot following a six year prison sentence. The most celebrated of Fregonese’s Argentine films, made before his sojourn in Hollywood, begins as an urban crime drama and evolves into a jailbreak story. This South American film noir provided a significant amount of inspiration for Rodrigo Moreno’s 2023 critics’ favorite The Delinquents. 35mm restored print courtesy UCLA Film & Television Archive and Film Noir Foundation.

  • Fri., Feb. 23 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

This offbeat departure for the eclectic Kleber Mendonça Filho (Bacurau) is an essay film that explores the Brazilian director’s home city of Recife and how its architecture and seaside location have provided creative inspiration for his movies, like Neighboring Sounds and Aquarius. Mendonça Filho pays particular attention to Recife’s cinemas, and reflects on the links between these picture palaces and the history and gentrification of the city. Using home videos, clips from films, photos, and original footage, Pictures of Ghosts is a dazzlingly original new work from an important contemporary filmmaker.

  • Thu., Feb. 29 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

At the dawn of the 20th century in the remote corners of the Tierra del Fuego, three men—a Scottish soldier, an American mercenary, and a mestizo marksman—are tasked with surveying the region for a wealthy landowner. As they roam the Andes, it becomes apparent that their real mission is to wipe out the indigenous population. This mesmerizing, superbly crafted debut feature has been compared by critics to the works of Martin Scorsese and Budd Boetticher. (MK)

  • Thu., Apr. 18 | 7:00 PM
    4070 Vilas Hall

Simulacros de liberación (or "Drills of Liberation") delves into the untold saga of Puerto Rico's protest surge from 2016 to 2019, culminating in Governor Ricardo Rosselló's resignation. When the US Congress installs a seven-member board to manage Puerto Rico's finances in 2016, the island's deep economic crisis and insurmountable debt to Wall Street bondholders are laid bare. As the Fiscal Control Board implements austerity measures, slashing public services and pushing privatization, a fierce anti-austerity movement erupts, with impassioned youth leading the charge to erase the nation's debt and safeguard its education system. At the forefront of this battle is "Jornada: Se Acabaron Las Promesas," orchestrating protests and direct actions to champion social justice causes. As Hurricane María exposes the country's heightened vulnerability, Jornada's activists, alongside others, rally to establish community hubs to combat post-storm hunger. Through resilience, resistance, and a vision for a liberated future, Puerto Rico's younger generations wage a bold struggle against US colonialism, depicted vividly in this gripping documentary. Director Juan C. Dávila will be present for a post-screening discussion. Presented with the  support of Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies (LACIS) at UW-Madison. Special Thanks to Aurora Santiago Ortiz, Sarah McKinnon.