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Scent of Culture I
An Encounter with the Passionate Culture of Latin America

Latin American Cultural Festival
Choi Hyun-joo
WOW image
Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Korea Foundation presented a
Latin American Cultural Festival in Seoul, Busan and Jeonju (July 17-August 8). In particular,
this festival program sought to enhance understanding of and promote exchange with Central
and South America through a variety of cultural activities, including an art exhibition, live
performances and film screenings.

Borderless Generation: Contemporary Art of Latin America
Although the region of Latin America is found on the other side of the world, the presence of Latin American culture is rapidly gaining ground in Korea, in particular regard to Latin American art, which has recently made its way into Korea via various routes, including relevant exhibitions and cultural events. The recent Latin American Cultural Festival thus served as an occasion to further bolster cultural exchange between Korea and Latin America.
A focal point of the Latin American Cultural Festival was a special exhibition of the contemporary art of Latin America, which featured 40 diverse works by 28 artists from 16 Central and South American countries. Contrary to expectations that the works might seem unfamiliar or unusual, the impressive array of works dealt with the kind of themes and messages that you would find in the creations of Korea’s contemporary artists.
The art exhibition staged at the Korea Foundation Cultural Center galleries included a lenticular work of figures with geometric forms that evolved into the image of an alluring woman (Felipe Cama, Brazil); video installations featuring the movement of tiny figures of people and animals as part of a landscape composition (Nayari Castillo and Consuelo Mendez, Venezuela); a hyper-realistic painting of a bottle and fruit, which conveyed unique illusions (Hernan Miranda, Paraguay); and a muse in a seductive pose against a background of photographic images and painted forms with a digitalized style (Flavia da Rin, Argentina). The exhibition offered a valuable opportunity to appreciate the contemporary art of Latin America, in which diverse genres and themes, like religion, ideology, and race, manage to transcend existing boundaries, along with creating new forms through the combination of various elements.

Latin American Film
The Special Screenings of Latin American Films program served as a rare opportunity to view Central and South American culture through the medium of film, which reflect the history, society, and culture of the people of this region. A total of 31 films, of various genres and periods, from 13 Central and South American countries were shown at the Cinema Room of the Korea Foundation Cultural Center, from July 17 to August 1. Each day, the featured films of a particular country were shown, with one representative work having Korean subtitles. For movie buffs in Korea and people with an interest in Latin America, this was a unique chance to view films that would otherwise not be shown to the general public.
“The Yacht Isabel Arrived This Afternoon,” a Venezuelan melodrama film, was about the love of Captain Segundo, a married man, and Esperanza, a woman in the port of La Guaira. It featured spectacular scenes of natural landscapes, for which it received the Best Cinematography award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1951. In addition, several films sought to tell the story of the adversity and challenges of life, such as the everyday struggles of tenants in the urban slums of Colombia (The Strategy of the Snail), the hardship of a young Costa Rican girl who must deal with the depraved world of child prostitution (Password to Darkness), and a powerful hurricane that devastated Honduras in 1998 (Ghosts of the Hurricane).
Other films were about the friendship of a Spanish traveler and an Ecuadoran university student (How Much Further); a story of a popular Brazilian duo musician brothers Zeze and Luciano (Two Sons of Francisco); the life of Duran, the Panamanian boxer who overcame a life of poverty to become a Latin American hero (The Fists of a Nation); the struggles of a young man from the Dominican Republic who dreams about meeting an older American woman to get a U.S. visa (Sanky Panky); and Alfonso, a novice journalist who hoped to cover entertainment news but was assigned to report on criminal incidents (Red Ink).
The special screenings included works that had earned recognition at world-renowned film festivals, such as “The Tree,” which premiered at the 2006 Buenos Aires Independent Film Festival; “The Other,” winner of the Silver Bear award at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival; and “From Carenero to New Orleans,” which captured the First Prize award for the educational category at the First International Festival of New Latin American Cinema, in Havana. Unfortunately, the films of Latin America can only be seen by viewers in Korea at this kind of special event, which tends to attract rather small-scale audiences. However, there are plans in the works for additional cultural exchange activities between Korea and Latin America in the future, which should provide new opportunities for people in Korea to enjoy the culture and films of this region.

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