Themed Playlist: An Ecuadorian Cinema Taster
About the lists: Calls to socially distance and self-isolate are driving people to look for things to watch. But the sheer amount of options out there can be overwhelming. For this reason, we at the Centre for Screen Cultures are producing themed playlists of film, video, and television so you can organise your own series or festival at home (or home school). They will update here and here: https://screenculture.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/category/media-playlists/
A PhD student at the University of St Andrews, María Fernanda Miño examines the intersection between film narratives, aesthetics and production practices in contemporary Ecuadorian cinema, as they relate to film policy and industry measures. She is also a film practitioner in both documentary and fiction projects. Her publications include ‘The Manabí Project: Participatory Video in Rebuilding Efforts After the Earthquake‘ and ‘La Muerte de Jaime Roldós y Con mi Corazón en Yambo: la reafirmación del imaginario colectivo en función de nuevos procesos de construcción social y política en Ecuador‘. This is her list:
An Ecuadorian Cinema Taster: 12 Films, 12 Views
The following playlist consists of twelve Ecuadorian films, ranging from 1977 to 2019. Although some of the titles were already available online, through commercial platforms as well as the Ecuadorian National Cinematheque, the current COVID-19 pandemic has moved some directors to also upload their most recent work. The list includes Ecuadorian classics (Ratas, Ratones, Rateros; ¡Fuera de Aquí!), observational and slow cinema (Territorio, Alba), political documentaries (Con mi Corazón en Yambo, Propagandia), stories from the margins (Sicarios Manabitas, Santa Elena en Bus), social critiques (Mejor no hablar de ciertas cosas, Sensaciones), and women-centered films (Qué tan lejos, En el nombre de la hija). A great starting point for those interested in Ecuadorian cinema, and the diverse national identity that it conveys.
DISCLAIMER: The availability and quality of the films listed are dependent on the platforms in which they reside. Some titles have English subtitles, others don’t; some are free, others require membership or payment.
Ratas, ratones, rateros (Rodents, Sebastián Cordero, 1999)
Considered to be the best Ecuadorian film in recent (20?) years, Cordero brings us the Costa-Sierra regional divide through the eyes of cousins Angel and Salvador. As they embark in a series of thief-related misfortunes, the Buñuel-inspired tale shows us the concerns of post-crisis Ecuadorians, through dirty realism aesthetics, colloquial jargon, and questions of national identity.
Territorio (Territory, Alexandra Cuesta, 2016)
Probably one of the most underrated Ecuadorian filmmakers, Cuesta takes us in an extemporal, sensory journey through the Ecuadorian landscape, surfing through the coast, highlands and rainforest. Slow cinema at its best, in dialogue with memory and self.
Sicarios Manabitas (Hitmen from Manabi, Fernando Cedeño, 2004) (LOW VIDEO QUALITY)
Named the Ecuadorian Tarantino, Cedeño took advantage of digital prosumer technology to portray land disputes in rural Manabi. Highly masculine, with glimpses of western and telenovela conventions, it is believed to be the most watched Ecuadorian film ever, distributed primarily through pirate markets in the urban centres of Quito and Guayaquil.
Mejor no hablar de ciertas cosas (The Porcelain Horse, Javier Andrade, 2012)
The other side of the Manabi reality, Andrade takes us inside a well-off family as they try to cope with a sensitive tragedy. Narrated through oldest son Paco, who refuses to embrace the political future set out for him, the film moves through a downward spiral of addiction and despair. Highly stylized, with a catchy punk soundtrack. It’s available to stream on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/video/detail/B07FT2HQP2
Con mi corazón en Yambo (With my heart in Yambo, Maria Fernanda Restrepo, 2011)
Showing off the maturity of Ecuadorian documentary, Restrepo turns a family tale into a matter of national interests. After the disappearance of older brothers Santiago and Andres, presumably through police enforcement during the post-dictatorship era, the Colombian-born family tries to find answers. The film combines interviews, personal archival footage, and the home as a place of mourning. It’s available for U.S. audiences to stream on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/con-mi-corazon-en-yambo/id1069543568
Propagandia (Propaganda, Carlos Andrés Vera, 2019)
Another political documentary, this time pointing the finger to a recent leader, former president Rafael Correa. Highly critical of the Correa administration, Vera focuses primarily on the use of the media to allow for an unprecedent concentration of power that restricted the rise of the opposition.
Sensaciones (Sensations, Viviana Cordero, 1991)
A prelude to Sebastián Cordero laureated career, Viviana Cordero presents us a group of musicians that decides to move to a ranch to find the true “sounds of the Andes”. Music sits at the forefront of the film, carrying a new-age look and the brilliance of the late Juan Esteban Cordero, who acts and co-directs in the film.
It is available for streaming through the Digital Cinematheque of Ecuador: http://www.cinematecanacionalcce.com/Peliculas/Detalle/3095
Fuera de aquí / llucshi caimanta (Get out of here!, Jorge Sanjinés, 1977)
A Grupo Ukamau’s collaborative project, working alongside indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian highlands, it acts out the excesses of political and religious groups to strip away the land from its rightful owners. A New Latin American Cinema classic, although its Ecuadorianness can be debatable.
It is available for streaming through the Digital Cinematheque of Ecuador: http://www.cinematecanacionalcce.com/Peliculas/Detalle/2055
Qué tan lejos (How much further, Tania Hermida, 2006) and En el nombre de la hija (In the name of the girl, Tania Hermida, 2011)
Usually named alongside Lucrecia Martel & Claudia Llosa as a representative of womens’ filmmaking in LatAm, Tania Hermida has managed to consistently produce films in Ecuador. These films feature a road trip with two heart-broken women alongside the Ecuadorian landscape, and a coming-of-age story of political ideology and belief.
Alba (Alba, Ana Cristina Barragán, 2016)
A relative newcomer in Ecuadorian cinema, Barragán navigated the film festival circuit with outstanding praise. Another coming-of-age narrative, a daughter is forced to move in with her father, a man he barely knows, while finding herself in the process. Boyhood-esque and colloquial.
Santa Elena en bus (Santa Elena on bus, FilmArte, 2012)
Shot, written and casted with locals from the coastal province of Santa Elena, FilmArte’s Gabriel Páez intertwines four tales from local traditions and folklore, linked together through a trippy bus ride.