Shorts, Sounds and Stories of Latin America: Sydney Latin American Film Festival 2016

While the world’s best athletes are competing for gold in Brazil, I’m sittin’ on my couch, chomping through my dinner and cheering them on. The sports games are amazing, I’ll admit (“sports games” – ha! That’s how bloody sporty I am), but what I scan the screen for are the Brazilian faces. The background images. The landscape. The music. Therefore, the country, as displayed through my Samsung teev.

I’m a fan of Latin culture. There, I said it. I love the music and the culture and the vibe, and I’ve said it many times here, whilst I’ve been to South America once, I’m dying to go back.

But with a lack of monetary resources and like, no annual leave to speak of, I trawl my local world around me, i.e. Sydney’s Latin community, for experiences that will help me feel like I’m right there in Rio, or Cusco, or Cartagena, or Buenos Aires. I may not be able to board a LATAM Airlines flight any time soon, but I’m confident enough in my city’s unique diversity that I can expose myself to a little Latin culture without even pulling out my passport.

Sydney Latin American Film Festival

Mark Taylor is the founder of the Sydney Latin American Film Festival, now in its 11th year.  It will take place again this year from 8th-12th September at the Dendy Opera Quays, where eight feature films and three documentaries, along with colourful Latin opening and closing night parties, will converge on Sydney like a Springtime Filmic Fiesta. But Mark says it wasn’t always this way.

“I think it was 2005, Sydney was under the dark cloud of Howard and Rudd”, Mark says, “Meanwhile, the anti-globalisation movements were taking shape around the world including Sydney and Melbourne. Myself, I was screening films with a couple of other concerned citizens at an artist-run space that we had set up in Chippendale. I was screening a lot of documentaries from Latin America at the time that told the stories of factory take-overs by workers and Indigenous uprisings and about collectives of all shapes in sizes. There was a thirst for Latin American stories in Sydney, we needed some fresh ideas and perspectives to sanitise us from the ultra-conservative times we were living in so I found a passionate crew and started a film festival.

Latin American culture and its cinema is beautiful, original and steeped in over 500 years of tumultuous colonial history. There have been cinematic movements within Latin American cinema that have extraordinary legacies all of their own, most of them have been responses to adverse social conditions in different countries such as Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Chile with filmmakers like Jorge Sanjines from Bolivia who was making vanguard cinema in the 60’s revealing stories such as the sterilization of Andean Indian women by the American Peace Corps. There is an incredible resilience to adversity and passion for celebration that is woven into the fabric of social life across Latin America, and fortunately for us we can experience a taste of that through any number of Latin American cultural events that take place across this town”.

Image supplied by event organisers

Image supplied by event organisers

Shorts and Sounds

The Sydney Latin American Film Festival (SLAFF) also acts as a not for profit entity that raises money for grassroots community projects. The SLAFF has raised over $116,000 in support of 26 community development projects in Latin America and Australia since 2006.

In the lead-up to the festival next month, the organisation is also holding a Shorts and Sounds night, on Wednesday, 17th August at The Basement in Sydney’s CBD.  This pre-festival event will feature music, dance and, naturally, a screening of some of the top short films chosen by the SLAFF and other international partners. Here’s a bit of a run-down of the evening:

Music: With a performance especially created for this edition of Shorts and Sounds, Afro Uruguayan Project will take you out into the night, whipping up a storm of sound as traditional rhythms are mixed with sizzling Dancehall and Afro roots.

TangoOz will be performing their first Australian show since finessing their skills under masters of the craft in Argentina.

Dance: Feisty Heidi La Tanguera & Alvaro Gonzalez will be taking the stage to a sensuous and imaginative take on the traditional tango.

There was a thirst for Latin American stories in Sydney, we needed some fresh ideas and perspectives to sanitise us from the ultra-conservative times we were living in so I found a passionate crew and started a film festival

The festival as a whole is an amazing event, with cinema and music and dance and entertainment you may not otherwise find on a regular basis.  And whilst it’s a great opportunity to experience another culture, the Sydney Latin American Film Festival, and the Shorts and Sounds event that comes before it, also works to break down stereotypes about being a Latino or a Latina.  The events present diverse stories and cultures from the extensive Latin American region, an important element of being in a multicultural city in 2016, particularly as xenophobia seems to be rearing it’s weird little orange comb-over type head of late.

Further Information

Tickets to the Shorts and Sounds event can be purchased via Moshtix, and tickets start from $24.30 per person.

Location: The Basement, 7 Macquarie Place, Circular Quay (

Transport: Train ­ 2 minutes walk from Circular Quay station

Car: Limited on street parking. Closest secure parking bay is at Atrium, 35 Pitt St, Circular Quay.

Mark is proud of the work that himself and the SLAFF team do to bring these events to the general public.  “Seeing people come together selflessly for the benefit of the wider community and then to see how that selfless work over time changes people in so many profound ways, has been the best experience”.

Stay tuned for more information, and more from Mark, regarding the upcoming Sydney Latin American Film Festival.





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