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Latin Distractions: Escapes, Experiences and Events

South America and the 8th Wonder of The World

November 10th, 2013

CHILE’S TORRES DEL PAINE NATIONAL PARK SELECTED AS 8TH WONDER OF THE WORLD BY VIRTUALTOURIST VOTERS


Torres del Paine National Park by Francesco Paroni Sterbini

VirtualTourist.com, a leading travel research website and community that is part of TripAdvisor Media Group, announced today that after more than five million worldwide votes, Turismo Chile’s entry of Torres del Paine National Park has been named the “8th Wonder of the World.”  Chilean born actor Cristian de la Fuente made the announcement on Los Angeles’s top morning show “Good Day L.A.”

Earlier this year, VirtualTourist declared it was on the hunt to identify the 8th Wonder of the World through site visitor votes. Torres del Paine, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve known for its lakes, glaciers, waterfalls and granite towers, was chosen out of more than 300 entries from over 50 countries.

“VirtualTourist members and site visitors are some of the most well-traveled people.  We knew we could tap into their knowledge to select the 8th Wonder of the World,” said Kimberly Stirdivant Wason, head of PR and marketing for VirtualTourist. “With its awe-inspiring physical attributes and breathtaking landscapes, it’s no wonder our site visitors named Torres del Paine the winner.”

Formed approximately, 145 to 66 million years ago, Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia occupies 935 square miles (2,442 square kilometers) and is well known for its beautiful mountain peaks with its highest point reaching 9,462 feet (2,884 meters).

De la Fuente, who recently appeared on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and “Private Practice” and was born and raised in Chile’s capital, Santiago, says Torres del Paine is a place where you can lose yourself.  “Chilean Patagonia is an amazing area of unlimited and unspoiled nature.  Whether on foot or by car, one of the most impressive destinations this region has to offer is Torres del Paine.”

Torres del Paine has become known as a hikers’ paradise where visitors can traverse through a remote environment unlike any other. This last year, the national park received 15 percent more visitors than previous years with more than 139,000 trekkers.

“We always believed Torres del Paine had the natural qualities to become the 8th Wonder of the World due to its exceptional beauty and its breathtaking landscapes,” said Chile Secretary of Tourism Daniel Pardo.  “Being named the 8th Wonder by VirtualTourist, one of the most respected names in travel, we hope will bring even more adventure seekers out to Torres del Paine to experience its unique splendor.”

El Salvador’s Santa Ana Volcano and Lake CoatepequeColombia’s Coffee Cultural LandscapeGuatemala’s Tikal National Park,Slovenia’s Skocjan CavesMexico’s Copper CanyonScotland’s Dunnottar CastleBelize’s Great Blue HoleCuracao’s Queen Emma Bridge and Croatia’s Old Town Dubrovnik are the other landmarks receiving the most votes to make up the top ten.

To see the complete list or for more information, visit www.virtualtourist.com/8thwonder.  To learn more about Chile’s Torres del Paine, visit www.chile.travel/en.

About Turismo Chile

In 1994, Turismo Chile joined the efforts of both public and private sectors to promote Chile as a tourist destination in international market. Now a fully private entity, Turismo Chile maximizes these efforts to achieve the most strategic and cost-effective methods in promoting the country abroad. For more information, please visit www.chile.travel, and get up-to-date news on FacebookTwitter and YouTube.

About VirtualTourist.com

VirtualTourist.com® is one of the largest online travel communities in the world and a premier resource for travelers seeking an insider perspective. Boasting close to 2 million travel reviews and over 4 million photos of 61,000 destinations worldwide from 1.3 million members, VirtualTourist (http://www.virtualtourist.com) attracts 8 million unique visitors per month. Unbiased, respected, insider advice on Hotels, Things to Do, Transportation, Favorites and more is posted entirely by VirtualTourist’s membership from more than 220 countries and territories. Virtual Tourist is a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, Inc.

 

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Weird and Wonderful Wildlife Tours

November 10th, 2013

Wild Planet Adventures Travelers Lavish “Hand’s On” Love to Rescued Animals in Costa Rica

Costa Rica Slith

The wildlife viewing expert, Wild Planet Adventures, continuously creates new wildlife eco-tours and safaris with opportunities to interact unobtrusively with weird and wonderful wildlife tours. For winter 2014 and beyond, the company unfurls three innovations for exploring the animal kingdoms of Costa Rica, Thailand and India.

In Costa Rica guests explore up to 8 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries with hands-on features that include tending to and cuddling rescued animals at a National Geographic-recognized rescue center.  In Thailand, Wild Planet has added the brilliant white-sand beaches, incredible snorkeling and limestone karst of Ko Phi Phi Island as an alternative to remote Ko Tarutau Archipelago, and at big savings ($600).  In Indiaguests may opt for a new version of the award-winning Leopards, Tigers & Palaces Ultimate Wildlife Safari, with special Festival departures scheduled to include the famous Pushkar Camel Fair and the joyful Holi Festival of Color.

Costa Rica

Hands-on wildlife interaction meets naturalist-led wildlife viewing on the award-winning 9- and 14-day Costa Rica Ultimate Wildlife Eco-Tour. A nearly four-hour, hands-on wildlife experience at Proyecto Asis Wildlife Rescue Center is a new addition to this tour and an experience recently featured in National Geographic.

“This new segment is getting rave reviews from our travelers who get to cuddle, feed and care for parrots, kinkajou, toucans, coaitimundi, macaws and other exotic tropical wildlife,” reports Josh Cohen, founder/owner. This is a natural compliment to an itinerary specializing in up-close wildlife viewing in eight remote national parks (six parks on a nine-day tour) plus whitewater rafting, cloud forest canopy tour, volcano, hot-spring, beaches on both coasts, sea-kayaking with dolphins, snorkeling at night in the bioluminescence, a scarlet macaw migration and a world-famous sloth sanctuary.

About Wild Planet Adventures
The expert wildlife guides of Wild Planet Adventures http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/go the extra mile to explore remote wildlife habitat and study wildlife patterns in destinations not often accessible to the general public. Thanks to the company’s comprehensive itineraries that balance diverse and complex ecosystems and habitats, guests enjoy wildlife and game viewing that is carefully aligned with animals’ seasonal, daily and nocturnal migrations.

Following a philosophy that interacting with nature has the power to transform lives, tours are conducted in Africa, Baja, Belize, Borneo, Brazil, Costa Rica, Galapagos, India, Laos, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Thailand and Zambia. Wild Planet Adventures is recognized by top publications in the travel industry for its itineraries that combine intimate encounters with wildlife and local culture.

For a more information and a complimentary 2014 catalog call toll-free 1.800.990.4376, or e-mail: trips@wildplanetadventures.com. To review current trips, schedules and itineraries log onto: http://www.wildplanetadventures.com/.

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Scientists Stumped! Strange Discovery in Peru

September 25th, 2013

Grad Student Discovers Unexplained Structure Resembling “The Unicorn in Captivity” At Tambopata Research Center in Peruvian Rainforest

Unicorn on Tarp Capture

Peru’s visionary leader in sustainable tourism, Rainforest Expeditions http://www.perunature.com/, reports that deep in the Peruvian rainforest near its Tambopata Research Center an as-yet-unnamed insect or fungus has been discovered that weaves an intricate funnel-shaped cocoon surrounded by approximately 30 “posts” that are positioned vertically, connected by woven “mesh,” and evenly spaced to form a “fence” measuring some 2 centimeters around the cocoon. It’s the next strange discovery in Peru.

Thus far entomologists are stumped as to what it is.

Troy Alexander, a graduate student visiting the center in early June was the first to discover the structure this past summer, first on the underside of a tarp and then on tree trunks.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Phil Torres, a conservation biologist with Rice University.

Suggestions range from the structure being a spider egg sac to an incomplete cocoon. Other suggestions are funnier.  “I have seen people say that it’s been built by a spider from Mars, that it’s a navigational aid built by mosquitos for navigating the dense jungles, to alien communication arrays built by local arachnids under the influence of alien mind control.” Jeff Cremer, spokesperson for Rainforest Expeditions.  “Some people say that it looks like the insect (or fungal) variation on the theme of the Late Middle Ages tapestry, The Unicorn in Captivity,”

Tory Alexander’s favorite theory, described on Facebook, is that “there are spider eggs in the base of the pole, and the spiderlings climb the pole and sail away on silken parachutes, protected by the fence the whole time.”

 

This region is no stranger to new species. In early 2012 the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) reported on 365 previously undocumented species found in Bahuaja Sonene National Park in the Tambopata River region of southeastern Peru. More recently in September 2012 a new spider species that created “false” decoy spiders as protection was found at the center.

Rainforest Expeditions offers the following programs where guests may come across this “unicorn” or other rare species while exploring jungle trails:

Tambopata Research Center Tour, four, five and six-day programs from $684 per person double for the four-day program. See:http://www.perunature.com/tours-of-the-amazon.html

Rainforest Wildlife Photography Tour, five day package from $1,900 per person double. See: http://www.perunature.com/rainforest-nature-photography-tour.html

Ranforest Expedition lodges are accessed from Puerto Maldonado airport arriving from Lima or Cusco on daily commercial flights lasting 45 or 90 minutes respectively. A bus transports guests to the Infierno River Port to board motorized wooden canoes for a 45-minute trip to the first lodge, Posada Amazonas. Refugio Amazonas, the second lodge, is a 3.5-hour boat trip after departing the bus. The third and most remote is Tambopata Research Center, requiring a 4-hour additional upriver boat ride from Refugio Amazonas.  Each lodge is only a few minutes on foot from the river bank.  See: http://www.perunature.com/tambopata-jungle-lodges-puerto-maldonado.html

Outside Magazine in its current October 2013 issue featured Rainforest Expedition’s Tambopata Research Center as one of its recommended destinations to “Live Life Bravely.”

About Rainforest Expeditions
Rainforest Expeditions (http://www.perunature.com/) is a recipient of The Rainforest Alliance 2012 Sustainable Standard-Setter award. This Peruvian ecotourism company shares with visitors in a sustainable manner the miracles of the Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone, 1.5 million hectares of pristine, still wild, tropical rainforest encompassing an area of land the size of Connecticut and stretching from the Andean highlands to the Amazon lowlands. It includes the Tambopata National Reserve, a 275,000-hectare conservation unit created by the Peruvian government in 1990 to protect the watersheds of the Tambopata and Candamo rivers. Conservation and ecotourism is helping to protect some of the last untouched lowland and premontane tropical humid forests in the Amazon.

Since 1989, guests of first one and now three Rainforest Expedition eco-lodges have added value to the region’s standing tropical rainforest. A sensitively conceived and managed (in some cases by native communities) touristic infrastructure creates a competitive alternative to such unsustainable economic uses as clear cutting the forest for timber or for cattle grazing. The partnerships Rainforest Expeditions has forged with local people eager to share Amazonian traditions with guests provide connection, expertise, adventure and access to wildlife in the jungles of Tambopata. Rainforest Expeditions has been verified and certified “a sustainable tourism business” by the Rainforest Alliance http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/.

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CentroAmericanto Fest 2013 In Austin, Texas

September 25th, 2013

Coming Together with Music, Dance and Song in Austin, Texas

The CentroAmericanto Fest 2013 is now a unique, four day fiesta showcasing Central American music, dance and culture. The 5th annual Fest will highlight Frigüey (El Salvador), Rialengo (Costa Rica), Flor Urbina (Costa Rica/Nicaragua), Juan Solorzano (Nicaragua) and Central American musicians living in Austin, Jeana and Juan Carlos Ureña (Costa Rica), Juan Antonio de los Angeles (Mexico) and producer-artist, Mauricio Callejas (El Salvador) fromSeptember 26 – 29, 2013.

Juan Solorzano from Nicaragua in concert

Thursday September 26th at Dougherty Arts Center on Barton Springs Road.
7:30PM $20
Tickets http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/451618

Flor Urbina from Costa Rica in concert

Friday September 27th at Dougherty Arts Center on Barton Springs Road.
7:30PM $20
Tickets http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/421989

Nicaraguan and Costa Rican Dance Workshop with Flor Urbina

Saturday September 28th at La Peña
10:00 AM $10 at the door
More info at http://www.centroamericantofest.com/dance-workshop-10/

Saturday, September 28 CentroAmericanto Fest 2013 will hold a free outdoor family festival at Zilker Park Hillside Theater and on Sunday, September 29“Fiesta Centroamericana”  at Flamingo Cantina of all ages will be pleased with the participation of local dance companies showcasing Central American dances, food vendors, children activities, raffles, and more.

For more information visit www.cacfest.com.

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Fall National Tour of Mark Kendall’s LA CAMIONETA

September 25th, 2013

Mark Kendall’s LA CAMIONETA Continues Its Successful North American Run with a National Fall Tour Including Theatrical Engagements at Selected Cities

 

Follow Your Nose Films and is proud to present the U.S. national tour of La Camioneta, the acclaimed debut feature by Mark Kendall, “a name to watch” (Variety). Hailed as “an upbeat story of resilience, regeneration and artistic imagination” by the New York Times’ Stephen Holden, the surprising and unique documentary film traces the migration and transformative journey of a decommissioned American school bus to the streets of Guatemala.

After successful theatrical engagements in New York City and Los Angeles, the film will travel across the U.S. in a national tour playing in over 40 North American cities, including some additional theatrical engagements at The Screen in Santa Fe, Big Picture Cinema in Toronto and the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago.

Every day dozens of decommissioned school buses leave the United States on a southward migration that carries them to Guatemala, where they are repaired, repainted, and resurrected as the brightly-colored camionetas that bring the vast majority of Guatemalans to work each day. Since 2006, nearly 1,000 camioneta drivers and fare-collectors have been murdered for either refusing or being unable to pay the extortion money demanded by local Guatemalan gangs.

Winner of an IDA Documentary Award, and an official selection of the SXSW, Los Angeles, and Guadalajara Film Festivals, La Camioneta follows one such bus on its transformative journey: a journey between North and South, between life and death, and through an unfolding collection of moments, people, and places that serve to quietly remind us of the interconnected worlds in which we live.

“La Camioneta is a poetic, even dreamy, film that ultimately conveys the mystical
sense of a transmigrated (mechanical) soul.” – J. Hoberman, Blouin Artinfo

LA CAMIONETA (USA/ Guatemala, 2012, 72 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles) Director: Mark Kendall; Executive Producer: Esther Robinson; Producers: Mark Kendall and Rafael González; Original Music: T. Griffin; Director of Photography: Mark Kendall; Editors: Mark Kendall and Shannon Kennedy; A Follow Your Nose Films (http://www.followyournosefilms.com/) release.

About the Director: After studying Anthropology and Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt University, Mark Kendall graduated from the MFA program in Social Documentary Film at the School of Visual Arts in New York. His first film, The Time Machine, was a National Finalist at the 2011 Student Academy Awards, recipient of the CINE Special Jury Award and CINE Golden Eagle Award, and winner of 11 additional festival awards. Kendall was a Fellow at the 2011 Sundance Institute Creative Producing Summit and was selected to participate in the IFP/Film Society of Lincoln Center’s “Emerging Visions” program at the 2011 New York Film Festival, a year-long fellowship that showcases and mentors 25 emerging filmmakers. La Camioneta, his feature directorial debut, was recipient of the David L. Wolper Award at the 2012 IDA Documentary Awards.

LA CAMIONETA Screening Calendar:

September 2013
Houston, TX: Museum of Fine Arts – September 20 & 28
Lambertville, NJ: ACME Screening Room – September 20-21, filmmaker in attendance
Miami FL: Miami Beach Cinematheque – September 20-22 & 25-26
Rochester, NY: Rochester Museum of Fine Arts – September 21
San Francisco, CA: Yerba Buena Center for the Arts – September 22

October 2013
New York, NY: Maysles Institute – October 1, filmmaker in attendance
New Haven, CT: New England Festival of Ibero-American Cinema – October 3, filmmaker in attendance
Mesilla, NM: Fountain Theatre – October 4-10
Santa Fe, NM: The Screen – October 4-10
Toronto, Canada: Big Picture Cinema – October 4-10
Bloomington, IN: The Ryder – October 4-6 & 11-12
Seattle, WA: Seattle Latino Film Festival – October 4-13
Bellingham, WA: Pickford Film Center – October 5
Durango, CO: Allen Theatres Durango 9 – October 9
Las Cruces, NM: Allen Theatres Cineport 10 – October 9
Phoenixville, PA: The Colonial Theatre – October 11-17
Oklahoma, OK: Oklahoma City Museum of Art – October 12
Memphis, TN: Memphis Brooks Museum of Art – October 13
Bryn Mawr, PA: Bryn Mawr Film Institute – October 22, filmmaker in attendance

November 2013
Kansas City, MO: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art – November 1, filmmaker in attendance
Chicago, IL: Gene Siskel Film Center – November 1-7, filmmaker in attendance
Riverside, CA: Culver Center for the Arts – November 1-2
Cincinnati, OH: Art Academy of Cincinnati – November 2
Anchorage, AK: Bear Tooth Theater – November 4
Hartford, CT: Real Art Ways – November 8-14
Boulder, CO: Americas Latino Festival – November 15-19

December 2013
Honolulu, HI: Honolulu Museum of Art – December
Albuquerque, NM: The Guild Cinema – December Memphis Brooks Museum of Art – October 13

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11° Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, Nov. 28, 29 y 30 2013

September 24th, 2013

Riviera Maya's 11th Annual Jazz Festival Line-Up Announced: 2013 program features internationally-acclaimed artists at one of the top 10 jazz festivals in the world

Riviera Maya Jazz Festival 2013

Located along 81 miles of the Mexico Caribbean coastline, Riviera Maya is one of Mexico’s hottest tourism destinations – a favorite amongst domestic and international visitors. One of the top ten jazz festivals in the world, the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival will celebrate its eleventh year from November 28 through 30, 2013. The event will be held on the white sand beaches of at the Mamitas Beach Club in the heart of Playa del Carmen.

Throughout the years, the event has come to capture the heart and the imagination of music lovers everywhere. Many jazz legends and Grammy winners have participated in the festival, including George Duke, Four Play, Sergio Mendes, Herbie Hancock, Ivan Lins, David Sanborn, Earl Klugh, Armando Manzanero and Sacbe, among others.

“We are honored to host such renowned musicians year after year in our beautiful paradise,” says Darío Flota Ocampo, general director of the Riviera Maya Destination Marketing Office. “This festival has become an annual event eagerly anticipated by musicians, guests and residents alike.”

The Jazz Festival has developed into one of the biggest musical traditions in Riviera Maya and has also become one of the destination’s signature annual events-all part of the region’s commitment to offer visitors an unforgettable experience. During these three days, tourists will have the opportunity to not only to enjoy Riviera Maya’s undeniable beauty, but also an incredible array of music. This year’s line-up of talented musicians includes:

Day One: Thursday, November 28th

Aguamala: A talented group that combines four different music personalities including rock, funk, jazz and regional Mexican music. The fusion of these sounds creates a progressive improvisation of a beautiful and chaotic Mexican sound that can be enjoyed by all. Aguamala has shared the stage with Wayne Shorter, John Scofiled, Screaming Headless Torsos, George Duke, Tower of Power, Tim Berne, Herble Hancock, Marcus Miller, and others.

Frank Gambale, Grammy-winning guitar virtuoso with special guest, Boca. Gambale exploded on the Los Angeles scene in the mid-80s. His meteoric rise to fame is a testament to his passion-powered playing, a style Rolling Stone Magazine called “ferocious!” Frank Gambale’s power, character and virtuosity are immediately recognizable. Innovator of the Sweep Picking technique, now part of the guitar lexicon, has earned him a place in the history books. Gambale’s live performances are exciting and masterful.

Brent Fischer: The group will bring the evening to a magnificent close with their combination of Afro-Cuban and Brazilian rhythms. The group was originally founded in 1978, led by Brent Fischer and named Clare Fischer and Salsa Picante. Hailed by jazz critics and fans alike, Clare Fischer, as a Latin-Jazz group has appeared in dozens of albums worldwide. The group’s world-wide fan base displays immense loyalty, rare appearances of the band are attended to great extents.

Day Two: Friday November 29th

Scott Henderson: From Palm Beach, Florida, Henderson shows undeniably unique and skillful guitar composition abilities. He formed Tribal Tech, one of the most reputable fusion bands of the 1990′s, in 1984 with bassist Gary Willis. Henderson’s musical genius is surely to account for his success.

Dennis Chambers: Chambers is well-known among drummers for his impressive technique and speed. The Chambers hallmark encompasses style and improvisations that can be matched by no other. Chambers has played a variability of musical genres, but is most notable in jazz-fusion, funk and Latin.

Jeff Berlin: Electrical bass legend, Jeff Berlin, will join Chambers and Henderson on stage. Known for his smooth and lyrical interpretation, Berlin is considered by many as the greatest electric bassist in the world! As a master of composition, Berlin continues to inspire bassists worldwide to learn the language of his art.

Jim Beard: Beard has traveled extensively around the world on tours with big-name artists. Some of those artists include Steely Dan, Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin and Wayne Shorter. Jim also has more than 100 works contained in recordings of such artists. Beard has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and won one in 2007 as a guest artist in “Some Skunk Funk” (Randy and Michael Brecker).

Ed Motta: Motta will close out the day with his creative Brazilian music vibes. The eclectic work of Motta encompasses a perfect balance between commercialism and experimentation. It collects the most varied elements that run the spectrum of black music, from jazz to soul, naturally including funk, disk, the bossanova, and much more.

Day Three: Saturday, November 30th

Celso Piña: A renowned singer, accordionist and composer. Born in Monterrey, NL, Celso Piña has more than 30 years of experience in the musical realm. Most recently, he has experimented merging hip-hop, reggae, rock, pop, and other genres. He has worked with many artists including Lila Downs, Café Tacuba, Control Machete, Benny and Alex Lora. He has performed worldwide in France, Denmark, Holland, Germany, Sweden, Polan, Italy, Columbia, Argentina, and more.

Matthew Garrison: Garrison studied piano and bass in Rome, Italy. In 1989, he received a full scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Here he began his professional career with the approval of musicians like Gary Burton, Betty Carter and Lyle Mays. Matthew moved to Brooklyn, NY in 1994 and has since performed with many artists including Herbie Hancock, Whitney Houston, Jim Beard, Bill Cosby and Paul Simon. His latest projects are “Shapeshifter Live 2010- Part 1, Matthew Garrison Solo” and “Garrison Jazz Productions Music Center”, a website that offers a modern approach to music education. In 2012, Matthew opened ShapeShifter Lab with his business partner Fortuna Sung. The business is fast becoming one of the most popular and influential concert halls in modern New York.

Earth, Wind & Fire: The iconic group will close the flourish festival in style. During the 1970′s, a new style of pop music was born – styles from African influence including jazz and R&B quickly spread around the world. With a wider range of interest, the musical realm presented a massive opportunity for young musicians. Maurice White, founder and leader of the band, contributed hugely to this evolution of pop that bridged a gap between black music and white America. Undoubtedly, it was a huge success as Earth Wind & Fire combined high-level musicians, a wide range of musical genres and multicultural spiritualism of the 70′s. “I wanted to do something that had not been done before,” Maurice explains. “Although we were basically jazz musicians, we played soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, rock and dance music, which somehow ended up being pop. We’re coming upon a decade of experimentation, mind expansion and cosmic awareness. We want our music to convey messages of universal love, harmony and a spiritual message without forcing it.” Maurice will not be a part of the group during the tour, but he remains at the heart and soul of the band as a songwriter and producer. White sums up his hopes for the band, “people are looking for meaning, and I hope that our music can give them some encouragement and peace.”

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Director Isabel Coixet Announces New Film Project

September 24th, 2013

With Ten Feature Films Under Her Belt, Spanish-Born Director Has Unassumingly Become One of the World’s Leading Female Directors

Filmmaker Isabel Coixet

Isabel Coixet is unstoppable. The Spanish-born filmmaker has just wrapped up shooting her latest production Learning to Drive starting Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson. Up next this fall is Fox International’s release of her psychological thriller Another Me starring Sophie Turner and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, and she is now getting ready to prepare her newest project Nobody Wants the Night to be shot early next year and starring Willem Dafoe, Juliette Binoche and Rinko Kikuchi. Coixet has also served as camera operator on several of her films, one of the few women directors to do so. With a prolific filmography, spanning to ten feature films, she has earned a distinct place in international cinema.

“Isabel is simply unclassifiable,” says Spanish director Álex de la Iglesia, quoted in The New York Times. A prolific and truly international writer-director and camera operator, that feels at home both on fiction and documentary films. She has premiered her films at the most important film festivals including Cannes’ Official Section, Berlin and Venice, and has worked with many of the most respected actors worldwide.

2013 has been an active year for Coixet. Last week she finished principal photography of Learning to Drive in New York City. Based on Katha Pollitt’s essay, the film tells the story of a self-absorbed book critic (played by Clarkson) who, after a recent breakup, signs up for driving lessons as part of an effort to move on with her life. Her instructor is a Sikh man living in Queens (played by Kingsley), and together they will help each other to move forward with their lives. This fall, Fox International will premiere Coixet’s Another Me. Based on Cathy MacPhail’s young adult novel of the same name, the film is a story about identity anxiety in a teenage girl, played by Game of Thrones’ star Turner in her film debut.

Her most recent project is Nobody Wants the Night, written by Miguel Barros, which will be shot in Norway early 2014. The film is the story of two women, from two different worlds, and their struggle to survive in one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. Josephine (to be played by Binoche) is a proud yet naive woman in love with a man who prefers glory and ice to the comforts of an upper-class home. Allaka (to be played by Kikuchi), a young but wise Inuit woman, is in love with the same man with whom she’s expecting a child. Set against the backdrop of a relentless icy landscape, the film chronicles their long, tense wait for the same man they love in such distinct ways.

In 1996 Coixet she made her first English-language film, Things I Never Told You, a moving drama starring Lili Taylor and Andrew McCarthy. International success arrived with the 2003 intimate drama My Life Without Me, based on Nancy Kincaid’s short story, in which Sarah Polley plays Ann, a young mother who decides to hide to her family she has a terminal cancer. This Spanish-Canadian coproduction was a hit at the Berlin Film Festival.

Coixet worked again with Polley in her follow up film The Secret Life of Words, co-starring Tim Robbins and Javier Cámara. In 2005, she participated in the omnibus film Paris, Je T’aime along with other filmmakers including Gus Van Sant, Walter Salles and the Cohen brothers. In 2008 she directed Elegy based on Philip Roth’s novel “The Dying Animal” starring Penélope Cruz and Ben Kingsley, and one year later she premiered Map of the Sounds of Tokyo as Official Selection of the 62nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival. The film was shot in Japan and Barcelona and starred Rinko Kikuchi, Sergi López and Min Tanaka. Her latest released film was Yesterday Never Ends (2013), which addresses the human consequences of Spain’s economic crisis. She has won a total of six Goya Awards, Spain’s prestigious film prize, most recently for Best Documentary for Escuchando al juez Garzón (2011).

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‘GenMex Part II: Recent Films from Mexico’

September 3rd, 2013

A Series Presenting Some of the Most Inventive and Cutting-edge Mexican Filmmakers, Featuring Five New York Premieres Including Cannes’ Winner AFTER LUCÍA by Michel Franco

Based on the success of the 2011 fall series GenMex: Recent Films from Mexico, Anthology Film Archives is partnering once again with Cinema Tropical and the Mexican Cultural Institute to present a series featuring some of the most inventive and cutting-edge filmmakers working in Mexico today.

Over the past decade, an emerging generation of filmmakers in the country has produced an impressive and internationally acclaimed body of work. Some of these filmmakers, such as Matías Meyer, Eugenio Polgovksy, Pedro González-Rubio, and Yulene Olaizola, have been able to create substantial bodies of work in a short time, each of them producing three, four, or, in the case of the exceedingly prolific Nicolás Pereda, seven feature films. Their ranks have been joined by others who have burst onto the scene more recently, with debut features and sophomore productions promising great things – including Kyzza Terrazas, Michel Lipkes, Sebastián Hofmann, Natalia Beristáin, and Michel Franco, among others.

GenMex Part II will showcase some of the most exciting films made in Mexico since the first installment of the series, five of them New York premieres, proving that this new wave of Mexican cinema is anything but a fleeting phenomenon. The program includes the New York premiere of Michel Franco’s Después de Lucía / After Lucía, winner of the top prize at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, the Sundance favorite Halley by Sebastián Hofmann, and a special sneak preview of Natalia Beristain’s No quiero dormir sola / She Doesn’t Want to Sleep Alone, winner of the prize for Best Film at the Morelia Film Festival.

“We’re very excited to be partnering again with Anthology Film Archives and the Mexican Cultural Institute in bringing to New York audiences some of the best Mexican films of the last couple of years”, says Carlos A. Gutiérrez, Director of Cinema Tropical, and programmer of the film series, “these films illustrate the greatness and diversity of Mexican cinema and showcase some of the country’s most promising talents.”

As part of the series, Anthology Film Archives will also be hosting the U.S. theatrical premiere run of Matías Meyer’s minimalist epic The Last Christeros / Los últimos Cristeros, playing August 30 – September 5.

Special thanks to all the filmmakers, and to Jaime Jaimes and Víctor Manuel Juárez (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores), Estrella Araiza (Vendocine); Sandro Fiorin & Alex García (FiGa Films); Sandra Gómez & Jessy Vega (Interior XIII); Shinji Kitagawa (Nara International Film Festival); Aida LiPera & Lita Robinson (Visit Films); David Pike (BrinkVision); Juan Pablo Polo (Axolote Distribución); Franka Schwabe (Bac Films); and Jacqueline Jimenez (Pantelion Films).

For more information, screeners for review, hi-res images, or to schedule an interview with the filmmakers please contact Andrea Betanzos, (212) 254-5474 or press@cinematropical.com

 

GENMEX PART II: RECENT FILMS FROM MEXICO
COMPLETE SCHEDULE

GREATEST HITS / LOS MEJORES TEMAS
A film by Nicolás Pereda (Mexico/Canada/Netherlands, 2012, 103 min., 35mm.)
“A restless formalist and one of the most inventive practitioners of the hybrid film, the prolific Pereda casts two of his regular collaborators, Gabino Rodríguez and Teresa Sánchez, as son and mother in a domestic drama about a returning prodigal father. But the reality of the film soon starts to slip. An actor is replaced; scenes are repeated with slight variations; worlds collide as actors interact with fictional characters. Both playful and radical, Greatest Hits is one of Pereda’s most emotionally resonant films, and also, as the title suggests, a culminating work.” –First Look, Museum of the Moving Image
Friday, September 6 at 6:45pm; Sunday, September 8 at 9pm; and Monday, September 9 at 8:45.

New York Premiere!
AFTER LUCÍA / DESPUÉS DE LUCÍA
A film by Michel Franco (Mexico, 2012, 102 min., 35mm.)
Winner of the top prize at the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival, the sophomore feature film by Franco, “one of the finest and most imaginative young directors on the scene” (Howard Feinstein, Screen Daily), is an intense and shocking exploration of the violent effects of bullying. The film tells the story of Alejandra, who has just moved with her depressed father to Mexico City after her mother has passed away. As she starts classes in a new school, she becomes the target of escalating torment by bullies. Their torments grow in intensity and cruelty, wearing down the weary Alejandra’s resistance.
Friday, September 6 at 9:15pm; and Tuesday, September 10 at 7pm.

New York Premiere!
MITOTE / MEXICAN RITUAL
A film by Eugenio Polgovsky (Mexico, 2012, 53 min., digital video)
A shaman’s mystical invocations, a protest of furious electricians on hunger strike, and a euphoric soccer crowd collide in the Zócalo of Mexico City, the country’s central square and ancient ceremonial heart of the Aztec empire. Mitote (Nahuatl for chaos or celebration) transforms the plaza into a wrestling ring, where national commemorations, postmodern rituals, and the remains of pre-Hispanic culture clash. Polgovsky’s follow up to his acclaimed documentary film The Inheritors is an intricate portrait of the different layers that coexist – sometimes in conflict – in Mexican culture.
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New York Premiere!
FOGO
A film by Yulene Olaizola (Mexico/Canada, 2012, 61 min., digital video. In English)
The deterioration of a small community in Fogo Island, off the coast of Canada, is forcing its inhabitants to leave and resettle. Places once occupied by humans are now becoming part of the tundra landscape. In spite of a condemned future, there are some residents who decide to remain, holding on to their memories and grieving for the past, when life in Fogo was different. Olaizola’s third feature film, a minimalist Mexican-Canadian drama, follows in the footsteps of her previous film Artificial Paradises, pushing the boundaries between fiction and documentary film.
Saturday, September 7 at 4:45pm; and Wednesday, September 11 at 9pm.

INORI
A film by Pedro González-Rubio (Japan, 2012, 72 min., digital video. In Japanese with English subtitles)
“Epic. […] González-Rubio’s long, contemplative takes feel like an osmotic experience.” –G. Allen Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle
Winner of the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival, the third feature film by acclaimed director González-Rubio (Alamar) is a stunning and poetic documentary shot in a tiny mountain community in Japan, made at the invitation of Japanese director Naomi Kawase and the Nara Film Festival. Blending documentary and narrative, Inori (Japanese for ‘prayer’) depicts the lives of the aging population of the isolated village. As the younger generations have left to look for work elsewhere, the remaining elderly inhabitants perform their everyday routine with stoicism and dignity.
Saturday, September 7 at 7:15pm; and Thursday, September 12 at 9pm.

MALAVENTURA
A film by Michel Lipkes (Mexico, 2011, 67 min., 35mm.)
“Beautiful. […] Lipkes proves in this opera prima that he is a talent to watch.” –Howard Feinstein, Screen Daily
Lipkes’s slow-burning film follows a nameless elderly man (played by non-actor Issac López) on his last day of life in the seedy streets of downtown Mexico City. Beset by memories, he roams through his past while everyday life slips by him. “Rendered with intensity and rigor” (Robert Koehler, Variety), Malaventura marks the auspicious and dignified filmmaking debut of film critic and programmer Lipkes.
Saturday, September 7 at 9pm; and Monday, September 9 at 7pm.

MACHETE LANGUAGE / EL LENGUAJE DE LOS MACHETES
A film by Kyzza Terrazas (Mexico, 2011, 84 min., digital video)
Ray (Andrés Almeida), a revolutionary activist, and Ramona (real-life singer Jessy Bulbo), a rebellious punk rock girl, are a young couple who hate inequality and social injustice in their country, and together try to advocate for a better world. Pushed over the edge by the violent repression in Salvador Atenco, they feel increasingly drawn to commit a terrorist act in the name of their political beliefs and their love. Terrazas’s poignant directorial debut is a frenetic love story in a self-destructive political activist context, set to the rhythm of punk rock.
Sunday, September 8 at 5pm; and Thursday, September 12 at 7pm.

New York Premiere!
HALLEY
A film by Sebastián Hofmann (Mexico, 2012, 84 min., digital video)
“Beto, a security guard in a Mexico City gym, quietly observes the healthy bodies of the muscle-bound patrons, which contrast sharply with his own physical deterioration. Afflicted with a strange illness, Beto surrenders to his condition and holes up in his apartment, injecting himself with embalming fluid to stem his increasing decay. Beto’s melancholy grows as he realizes – in the words of an affable morgue attendant – that ‘the diseased become the disease.’ Through the friendly advances of the gym’s female owner, Beto dances with the illusory promise of feeling alive again. Hofmann’s increasingly surrealistic feature debut subverts genre conventions and audience expectations, treating its living-dead protagonist with sensitivity and compassion.” –Sundance Film Festival
Sunday, September 8 at 7pm; and Tuesday, September 10 at 9:15pm.

Special Sneak-Preview Screening!
SHE DOESN’T WANT TO SLEEP ALONE / NO QUIERO DORMIR SOLA
A film by Natalia Beristain (Mexico, 2012, 82 min., digital video)
Amanda is 33 years old and suffers from a condition: she cannot sleep alone. Her dull life is suddenly altered when she is forced to take care of her old alcoholic grandmother, Dolores (played by veteran actress Adriana Roel), a retired actress who lives on her past glories. Largely based on the filmmaker’s relationship to her grandmother, Beristáin’s promising feature film, which had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, was the winner of the prize for Best Film at the 2012 Morelia Film Festival.
Wednesday, September 11 at 7pm.

New York Theatrical Premiere Run!
THE LAST CHRISTEROS / LOS ÚLTIMOS CRISTEROS
A film by Matías Meyer (Mexico/Netherlands, 2011, 90 min., 35mm.)
Matías Meyer’s The Last Christeros is a highly unusual historical film that takes a meditative, nearly non-narrative approach to portraying the experiences of those who continued to resist the Mexican government’s anti-Christian (especially anti-Roman Catholic) persecution, even following the official end of the Cristero War in 1929. Devoted to the cause, despite their increasing desperation and fatigue, and their yearning to rejoin their families, this band of rebels – whose genuine religious faith and spiritual innocence is apparent despite their paradoxical embrace of armed struggle – trudges exhaustedly through the hills and mountains of rural Mexico, experiencing moments of grace and beauty amid the violence and suffering. This third feature by Meyer (following Wadley and The Cramp) decisively establishes him as one of the most gifted of young Mexican filmmakers, and represents a striking combination of minimalist cinema and historical depiction. Eschewing a narrative chronicle of the War’s events, Meyer instead puts us in his weary fighters’ shoes, and emphasizes the quiet, strangely tranquil moments between battles.
Friday, August 30 through Thursday, September 5, nightly at 7pm and 9pm, additional screenings on 8/31 and 9/1 at 5pm.

Unless otherwise noted, all films are in Spanish with English subtitles.

All films at:
Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Avenue at 2nd Street, New York City
(212) 505-5181 / www.anthologyfilmarchives.org
Subway: F to Second Avenue; 6 to Bleecker.
Tickets: $10 general; $8 for students, seniors, & children (12 & under); $6 AFA members.

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Philanthropy in Peru via Coffee Collaboration

September 3rd, 2013

From the Heart of America to Peru Two-Company Collaboration Creates Coffee Blend Supporting Philanthropy

Something new is brewing in Kansas City where everything’s always up to date. It’s “Inspiration Blend,” a brand-new coffee spawned by the collaboration of two Kansas City stars, a travel company, Culture Xplorers (http://www.culturexplorers.com/), and Broadway Roasting Company (http://www.broadwayroasting.com/).

“Inspiration Blend” can be purchased online starting Aug. 25 for $20/pound plus shipping. Twenty percent of “Inspiration Blend” sales will help support Culture Xplorers Foundation philanthropic work in Peru where the blend’s beans are sustainably sourced. The other portion of the blend comes from Ethiopian beans, the ancient birthplace of coffee. The new coffee will also be sold at Broadway Café (4106 Broadway, Kansas City, MO 64111 tel: 816-531-2432).

“Broadway Roasting Company is one of the country’s premier craft coffee roasters and a pillar of the Kansas City community. We share a similar philosophy of reciprocity and building strong bonds to the communities which sustain us,” notes Jim Kane, owner/founder of Culture Xplorers. “Together we’ve created a unique coffee blend inspired by the destinations where our Culture Xplorers Foundation fosters the sustainability of local culture.”

Kane’s travel company since 2003 has been connecting travelers with indigenous communities to help fuel the global philanthropic efforts of the Culture Xplorers Foundation. Among the foundation’s Peru projects are the annual Culture Xplorers weaver’s awards, in its ninth year engaging hundreds of indigenous textile artists from nine Andean communities, all members of the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, a cooperative. For more information see http://vimeo.com/36357469.

Another program helps pay college costs for a young Lima artist who, in exchange, volunteers at a local elementary school to teach art to students who would otherwise not have an art instructor. For more on Lugo’s story, see http://www.culturexplorers.com/blog/lugo-our-first-arts-scholarship-fund/1670.

“Collaborating with like-minded organizations right here at home is not only personally satisfying, it dovetails with our mission to foster the sustainability of local culture worldwide. Plus, I’m a huge fan of finely crafted coffee and Broadway is amongst the country’s best artisan roasters. This is a wonderful partnership on all levels!” says Kane.

About Culture Xplorers

Culture Xplorers (http://www.culturexplorers.com/), a leader in sustainable travel, offers handcrafted journeys that deepen understanding and foster connection between travelers and local communities around the world.

Culture Xplorers trips are created from the ground up, built on three founding pillars: people, traditions and impact. Their travelers meet the people of the places they visit, engaging in the living traditions that make each destination unique, and in doing so, create a lasting, positive impact through tourism. Genuine connections with people and place are formed farm-to-fork and around the table, via participation in local celebrations and through authentic exchange with community leaders and members.

Countries where cultural exchanges are fostered are Peru, Guatemala, Argentina, Mexico, Spain, Portugal and Cuba (in 2014). The Culture Xplorers Foundation was founded in 2007 to help foster the sustainability of local culture in at risk communities worldwide. Its positive impact partnerships focus on sustaining endangered traditions, strengthening education, fostering community-based travel and breaking the cycle of poverty through the support of comprehensive micro-loan and education programs.  See: http://www.cxfoundation.org/

For 2013-2014 season information, tours, availability and reservations contact Culture Xplorers at (215) 870-3585 or email: info@culturexplorers.com.

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Most Bio-Diverse Place On Earth Now Open for Oil

September 3rd, 2013

Indigenous People’s Ancestral Lands In UNESCO-designated Biosphere in Ecuador As of Mid August Threatened by Oil Interests

Sometimes a great notion may end up being just be a fine romance. Take the mid 19th century Hudson River School of painting for example. Artists touted nature’s magnificence even as exploitations of indigenous people, buffalo, timber and more swept the nation.

Like a piece of art, Ecuador’s constitution holds nature in reverence. Such was the romance until mid August between the government and the most bio-diverse place on earth, Yasuni National Park, since 1989 a UNESCO-designated Yasuni International Biosphere in the Amazon jungle. Last week a ban was lifted on drilling for crude oil in one region of the park, an exercise that may well lead to exploitation of indigenous peoples, wildlife, the forest canopy and more.

“The short-term winners are oil interests and their affiliates; long term the world loses,” said Jascivan Carvalho, General Manager, Tropic Journeys in Nature, that works with indigenous people on their ancestral lands in Yasuni National Park.

Carvalho pointed out the irony that his government had offered the world a “deal” whereby international interests targeting the environment could have, had a set monetary goal been met, precluded the drilling by raising funds equal to the amount Ecuador would gain from the new oil venture.

“Romances fall apart often for economic reasons in a relationship and such was the case here with potentially $18 billion from oil at stake,” said Carvalho who heard the news when on a several-weeks journey exploring iconic national parks in the western United States.

When Carvalho returns to Quito at the end of August his first mission will be to link up with the Huaorani community in the park where this indigenous people and his company are in partnership with a lodge and a sustainable mission. This cooperative program engaging the Huaorani, one of the world’s most isolated ethnic groups, as hosts on and stewards of their ancestral turf, is beginning to secure their future by paying ecological dividends.

Ecuador’s award-winning ecotourism company, Tropic Journeys in Nature (http://www.destinationecuador.com), since 1994 has led tours through the country’s most engaging landscapes. This includes a region occupied by the Huaorani, one of the most isolated ethnic groups in the world, in contact with the so-called the civilized world only since the mid 20th century and today threatened by global oil interests.

“Indigenous groups with their own conservation efforts should be a source of national pride,” adds Carvalho. “Admittedly this is a David and Goliath story whose narrative is preserving a people in nature by keeping oil in the ground. Roads, settlers, deforestation, the introduction of cattle and non-native plant species, pipelines, leaks and spills are just the beginning.”

“Our community-based tourism project allows the Huaorani to earn an income while maintaining control of their territory and lifestyle,” notes Carvalho. The lodge is in the Yasuni International Biosphere reserve, one of four so designated by UNESCO in Ecuador for their ecological importance in the conservation and protection of biodiversity.

Carvalho launched his company to demonstrate that environmentally sustainable and culturally sensitive tourism can be a viable business model. Tropic pioneered indigenous community tourism in the Amazon region with the Huaorani people and over many years has been a consistent supporter, partner and promoter of indigenous tourism initiatives with several indigenous communities and organizations including the Siecoya, Cofan, Siona, Achuar and Quichua.

The company also integrates tourism with ecological, economic, socio-cultural and political concerns with local community tourism initiatives in the Galapagos Islands, the Andean region and the Pacific coast region of Ecuador.  The communities it works with receive proper economic benefit from the tourism operation and these and other benefits are pointed out to clients.

About Tropic Journeys in Nature
Established in 1994, Tropic is an award–winning ecotourism company specializing in responsible, community-based tourism in Ecuador. Programs combine life-changing, active-but-cultural ecotourism experiences focusing on nature, conservation, diversity and sustainability in three distinct areas:

For information and reservations contact: Tropic Ecological Adventures LLC. / Phone: +593-02-2234-594 / 202. 657.5072 (US) / 593. 2. 222. 5907 (EC) / 1.888.207.8615Website: http://www.destinationecuador.com/

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