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Cinema en tu Idioma Presents a Trio of IFC Films

Three Spanish Language Films From Around the Globe

Above: "Fermat's Room"

The San Diego Latino Film Festival’s monthly screening program Cinema en tu Idioma tests the notion that you can’t have too much of a good thing by presenting a trio of Spanish language films (screening now through November 12 at the UltraStar Mission Valley Theaters) from around the globe: Spain’s “Fermat’s Room,” Colombia’s “Perro Com Perro,” and Mexico’s “Voy a Explotar.”

The San Diego Latino Film Festival deserves praise for consistently trying to bring Latin film to San Diego not only through its annual festival but also through a kind of mini-distribution of titles it feels are worthy of longer play. Packing three films into a week, though, is a bit intense but if you have the stamina, you should check out the offerings.

This week’s films mark the final installment of the 2009 Cinema en Tu Idioma Film Series. I was only able to screen one of the three films in advance, “Fermat’s Room.” The other two films are “Perro Com Perro,” a gritty and darkly funny Colombian gangster film that I tried to see at the SDLFF but was never able to fit it in so I’m looking forward to catching up with it. The film stars Oscar Borda, Blas Jaramillo, and Marlon Moreno and marks the directing debut of Carlos Moreno. The film (English title is “Dog Eat Dog”) follows two small-time gangsters, Eusebio and Victor, who work for the same crime boss, and each manages to piss him off. Their unlucky fate throws them together and they try to help each other escape repercussions.

"Voy a Explotar"

IFC

Above: "Voy a Explotar"

The other film I have not screened is from Mexico, “Voy a Explotar.” The film has attractive pedigree in that Mexican stars and buddies Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna produced it. As with Guillermo Del Toro, they are trying to use their popularity to help fresh talent finds its way to the big screen. So kudos to them for that effort. The film looks to a pair of troubled teens, Roman and Maru, who decide to rebel against the world.

The film I did get to see was a clever thriller from Spain called “Fermat’s Room.” The film stars two Spanish favorites -- Santi Millán and Lluis Homar -- as well as the great Federico Luppi. The film begins with a young man who’s about to prove a mathematical theory only he discovers that his room has been ransacked and all his documentation is gone. Fast forward. Now the young man has been given a mysterious invitation asking him to solve a math puzzle. He along with three other mathematicians are the only ones who come up with the answer and they are invited for a special meal by their mysterious host. The lure is that they will have to solve some great enigma. But there’s a catch – isn’t there always in circumstances like this? The room they are in has been rigged so that the walls will close in on the guests and ultimately crush them. Think the trash compacter scene from “Star Wars.” If they are able to keep solving puzzles the host sends on a PDA, they can keep the walls from moving. But as the room shrinks, secrets are squeezed out of the guests and their host’s identity is revealed.

The math and the decidedly indie spirit of the film will likely draw comparisons to Darren Aronofsky’s “Pi.” But in some ways it has more in common with the machinations of something like “Sleuth.” Luis Piedrahita delivers his clever tale with high production values and a strong cast. The film is tightly paced, well acted, and keeps you hooked. The claustrophobic setting and the limited cast keep the intensity level high.

“Fermat’s Room” (unrated and in Spanish with English subtitles) is a smartly written and confidently directed work that will keep you engaged.

Companion viewing: “Pi,” “Sleuth” (the original with Michael Caine and Laurence Olivier)

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