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LLEVATE MIS AMORES directed by Arturo González Villaseñor

by Amaya Bañuelos Marco and Federica Pugliese

While the headlines over the last few months have been bleak and disheartening, there has been an incredibly positive response from communities worldwide to help out those who are most vulnerable and at risk. From donating and packing meals to delivering groceries to those shielding, from providing opportunities to connect for those isolating to supporting local arts venues; the pandemic has shown that while you may force people to isolate you can’t stop communities from staying together.

The word “community” has become a bit of a buzzword. Perhaps even more in the Anglo-world where a sense of the individual is stronger, the word has become ubiquitous: the reason behind that expensive grocery shop, a pull to get you to chip in money for yet another fundraiser, or a label some wealthy people like to use to justify actions in a particular neighbourhood. Community, though, is a word that overall signifies people coming together to improve the places they inhabit. It also embodies groups of people who, excluded from society because of their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, have found a voice together and an emergent identity politics. Increasingly, too, and as experienced throughout the lockdown, communities are being created beyond local boundaries, connecting people through common interests and passions, such as film.

LAST OF THE MOHICANS directed by Max Ploeg
Community and film have a very dear relationship. To begin with, going to the cinema is a communal experience, something that you could still do in your local area not so long ago. With the demise of cinemas in many cities around the world – a city like Edinburgh, for instance, had over 100 cinemas in the first half of the 20th century whereas there are just about 15 today, of which the large majority hold big chain names – there has been, however, a resurgence of local cinema groups which have brought back this community spirit. Films, particularly documentaries, have largely portrayed and explored how people live together in places around the world, allowing us to see and understand these differences but also to connect with similar global experiences, such as gentrification. So, while we patiently wait for cinemas to reopen, Cinetopia: DOC presents Love Your Local, a programme of documentaries exploring different aspects of the importance of finding yourself being part of a community.

Born at the intersection between someone’s needs and someone else’s willingness to help, the communities depicted in these films are extraordinary examples of people’s desire to support each other and be connected. From neighbourhood’s identities and relationships with neighbours, to finding more unusual communities in unexpected contexts – these documentaries show us how in these gatherings one can find friendship, support, and a sense of belonging. From the hangars of a German airport to the rail tracks in a Mexican town, these films capture people’s struggles to find hope, support and relief in their communities through inspiring portraits of common individuals.

CENTRAL AIRPORT THF directed by Karim Aïnouz

 

These documentaries focus on individuals who, despite the hardships of their personal lives, are strongly committed to give much of their time and efforts to help those known or unknown to them. The first film of our programme, Llévate mis amores (Arturo González Villaseñor, Mexico, 2014) conveys the best of community spirit through the stories of a group of volunteer women of La Patrona community. This Mexican community has been helping migrants passing through the town in long freight trains since 1995. Llévate mis amores gives voice to these women whose important work has inspired people across the world while also reveals the appalling conditions in which these migrants make their journey. In the second film of our programme, Last of the Mohicans (Max Ploeg, The Netherlands, 2019), we follow Tonny, a middle-age woman who, having suffered from social exclusion, daily drives her supermarket on wheels to her needy neighbours despite her increasing debts. The film premiered in IDFA last year as part of the Student Documentary Competition and this will be its UK premiere. Finally, Central Airport THF (Karim Aïnouz, Germany, 2018) follows two individuals who, as 2.000 other people, have been provided with temporary shelter in an abandoned Berlin airport, creating a transient but strong community that works together in preparing for a life in Germany. The film beautifully portrays the relationship between space and individuals; as spaces constantly repurpose themselves so do refugees and asylum seekers, who have to reinvent themselves in a foreign land.

The films in the programme show how documentaries have a crucial role in giving visibility and voice to underrepresented communities, and also in showing how communities are built by acts of solidarity and love. Our hope is that this programme will offer audiences a glimpse of how different communities around the world work together to improve their lives and that of others, despite all sorts of adversities. We hope you find these films inspiring and illuminating and that you feel more connected too.

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You can pre-order and watch the films within this series through our new Eventive Virtual Portal- HERE!

and back to our CINETOPIA:DOC club page HERE!

Love Your Local is curated by Amaya Bañuelos Marco and Federica Pugliese

Love Your Local is part of Film FeelsConnected, a UK-wide cinema season, supported by the National Lottery and BFI Film Audience Network. Explore all films and events at filmfeels.co.uk

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