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From Nepalese classrooms to intergalactic visitors, La Mirada brings the best of Spanish and Latin American cinema

When your festival patron is Pedro Almodóvar, and its guest curators are Rushmore’s Wes Anderson, The Motorcycle Diaries’ Gael García Bernal, and frontman for the Hives Pelle Almqvist, the only bad news is how they weren’t trapped in a Big Brother house so we could witness their deliberations. (Add a zany neighbour and that’s sitcom gold.)

The good news is that the La Mirada Film Festival returns in November with an eclectic selection of Spanish and Latin American films, both new releases and classic cinema. The first round of announced titles includes another chance to catch some favourites from MIFF on the big screen: corrupt beauty queen thriller Miss Bala and drama about Pinochet’s fall No.

And there are two Australian premieres that couldn’t be further apart. Iciar Bollain’s Kathmandu Lullaby tells the inspired-by-a-true story of a Spanish teacher determined to start a school in Nepal. It avoids the usual traps of tourist cinema – you don’t even see majestic mountains until the second act – with a matter-of-fact approach to cultural clashes and desperate poverty. It can be clumsy, but it’s sincere and satisfying.

Light years away is Nacho Vigalondo’s Extraterrestrial. His last feature, Timecrimes, is a time travel thriller made with barely three actors, scissors, and bandages. Extraterrestrial applies the same scale to an alien invasion, with “three schmucks in an apartment” so caught up in their own dramas they barely notice what’s happening outside. It’s a romantic comedy that’s not that romantic and not that comedic – but its refusal to ever do what you expect makes it oddly compelling.

If you really want to immerse yourself in the La Mirada experience, come along to the Opening Night Gala on Thursday November 15. Festival director Rocio Garcia has obtained the unmissable comedic gem Extraterrestrial, directed by Nacho Vigalondo (dubbed “The Woody Allen of Science Fiction” and the director of the amazing Timecrimes).

The party continues after the film at BeerDeLuxe with Spanish tapas, wines and Argentinean beer. Get on the dance floor and practice your best dance moves to the beats from Melbourne's first lady of Latin, DJ Emma Peel, playing Latin jazz, salsa, boogaloo, bossa nova, samba, soul-jazz and more.

Don’t miss out – tickets are still available for one of Melbourne’s best parties of the year – online or at the door.

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By Martyn Pedler   |  

La Mirada Film Festival 2012 video

La Mirada Film Festival 2012 details

Around Melbourne, Melbourne 3000

Price $14.00 to $17.00

Date 15 Nov 2012-26 Nov 2012

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