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As Panama City greeted all the region’s presidents at a historical Summit of the Americas, the fourth Panama International Film Festival, which kicked off last Thursday, has welcomed Geraldine Chaplin as its guest of honor.
On her second time here, Chaplin is bringing Laura Amelia Guzman and Israel Cárdenas’ Sand Dollars, an ambiguous love story set against a sexual tourism backdrop that was shot in the Dominican Republic, where she plays a French woman who is desperately in love with a very young local girl.
“I’m hungry for young, talented cinema, and I think this is the place,” said Chaplin at the inaugural press conference, where she defended Latin American cinema.
“There’s more talent here, more stories to tell, more new ways to tell them, more invention,” said Chaplin, who lives alternately in Spain and Switzerland. “I live in a country full of dinosaurs, although there are also some very good ones. But I’m hungry for the kind of cinema you can see here.”
“Generally, I’m more interested in what is happening here, particularly young people like Lisando Alonso [director of Jauja, starring Viggo Mortensen], who I’ve been following for quite some time,” she later told The Hollywood Reporter. “Also, a Colombian filmmaker named Ruben Mendoza [Memories of a Vagabond], who did The Stoplight Society.”
Apart from Sand Dollars, Chaplin’s latest roles include two Argentine films — Oscar-winning art director Eugenio Zanetti’s Amapola and Pablo Aguero’s Mothers of the Gods — as well as the horror flick Wax and Guy Maddin’s experimental pieces The Forbidden Room and Seances.
“I like working with good directors, regardless of the genre. If a good director wants me to play the role of a chair, I’ll play a chair,” she said.
Still, her strong advocacy for Latin American cinema doesn’t mean Chaplin has eliminated the possibility of a Hollywood comeback, since she says she would “definitely” take a role in such a film if a chance arises.
“I don’t reject Hollywood,” she said. “It’s just that, as a film viewer, I’m not that interested in what it has to offer. Like franchise films, they appeal to the lowest of common denominators, and I think that is almost like insulting the audience. As a spectator, I don’t like to be insulted with a predigested product. I mean, please, I’d like to go back home after a film and reflect a little, think about it,” she added.
The fourth Panama International Film Festival runs April 9-15 in Panama City.
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Samuel L. Jackson