Latin American Visions

Film, Architecture, Latin America, Series, Screening, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, NL

…There is no beauty like the beauty of America spread out in its infernos,
in its mountains of rock and power, in its atavistic and eternal rivers…

Pablo Neruda

Manuel Toledo curated the screening series titled ‘Latin American Visions’, especially for Thursday Night Live! The series offered four screening events exploring the visual identities of Latin American cities, landscape and architecture through film.

The inaugural screening event premiered the Chilean documentary ‘Escapes de Gas‘ [Gas Leaks] by director Bruno Salas. The film screening was introduced by Chilean sociologist Daniela Vicherat-Matar, who contextualized the relation of politically contested architecture and public space in Chile.

The following screening event was dedicated to the Mexican documentary ‘H2Omx’ by José Cohen & Lorenzo Hagerman. The film showcased Mexico City’s water crisis, as well as the innovative solutions developed by local urban activists for its inhabitants. With an introduction by Mexican architect and researcher Dr. ir. Heidi Sohn.

The third film was dedicated to the Argentinean architecture-triller ‘Los Corroboradores’ [The Corroborators] by Luis Bernardez. Following the traces of a secret society’s plan of reproducing Paris in Buenos Aires at the end of the XIX Century by the hand of a Suzanne, a French journalist that has been lured by a mysterious man named Martin Dressler. Suzanne believes they have disappeared Dressler, and now they are after her.

Manuel dedicated the last day of the Latin American Visions series to the Cuban film ‘Memorias del subdesarrollo‘ [Memories of Underdevelopment] by Tomás Gutierrez Alea. In the wake of the Bay of Pigs incident, the bourgeois intellectual Sergio spends his days roaming Havana in idle reflection. His emotional confusion and political ambivalence gradually give way to a mounting sense of alienation. With an introduction by Cuban engineer and cultural producer ir. Manuel Freyre.

The Latin American Visions film series was made possible with the generous support of Het Nieuwe Instituut as part of its Thursday Night Live! Public programme.


Escapes de Gas

NL Premiere

February 7th, 2019
Het Nieuwe Instituut

Film synopsis

Chile, 1972. During Salvador Allende’s Government the building in which the Third Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD III) would take place, was built in a record time of 275 days.
 Gas Leaks delves into the convergence of 34 artists convoked to integrate their art to the building’s architecture, and what would later become of these pieces in Chilean history.

Film Info

English Title: Gas Leaks
Director and producer: Bruno Salas
Final runtime: 72 minutes
Year: 2015
Produced by TRAMPA films

Film introduction by

Dr. Daniela Vicherat-Mattar is a Chilean sociologist working at Leiden University College The Hague. In her research she has explored the connection between public spaces, art and the ordinary experience of politics. One of her last projects compares the active street art scenes in Santiago and Cape Town, as signal of the increase gentrification affecting both cities, but also continuous manifestation of the contesting political power of art.



March 7th, 2019
Het Nieuwe Instituut

Film synopsis

Can a mega-city mobilize its 22 million citizens to become water sustainable? Mexico City was built not near water but in the middle of a lake. To supply it with fresh water is such a task that it makes it compulsory to bring it from other states. In addition, once sewage water leaves the city it ends up in agriculture. This film is an environmental case study of the Valley of Mexico as it struggles to save itself while its population grows.

Film Info

English Title: H20mx
Directors: José Cohen, Lorenzo Hagerman
Final runtime: 82 minutes
Year: 2014
Country: Mexico
Produced by José Cohen, Alejandra Liceaga

Film introduction by

Dr. ir. Heidi Sohn is Associate Professor of Architecture Theory and leader of the Architecture Theory chair at the Architecture Department of the Faculty of Architecture, TU-Delft. She received her doctoral title in Architecture Theory from the TU-Delft in 2006 for her dissertation on Mexico City in post-structural thought. Her main areas of investigation include genealogical enquiries of contemporary theoretical landscapes; investigations on geopolitical and politico-economic conditions and implications of late capitalist urbanization, and more recently, explorations on the spatio-material and socio-cultural impact of various phenomena such as bordering and movement. Her research is often inspired on Mexico City, her hometown. She is a licensed architect and lives in Amsterdam since 1999

Los Corroboradores
NL Premiere

September 26th, 2019
Het Nieuwe Instituut

Film synopsis

Suzanne is a French journalist who travels to Buenos Aires under the request of Martin Dressler for a guided tour of the French style buildings copied from Paris. But Dressler never shows up.

Suzanne discovers that The Corroborators were a secret society that decided to copy Paris in Buenos Aires at the end of the XIX Century. But this society suddenly vanished and became a myth. Suzanne believes they have disappeared Dressler and now they are after her.

Film info

English Title: The Corroborators
Director and producer: Luis Bernardez
Final runtime: 70 minutes
Year: 2017
Country: Argentina
Produced by Federico Eibuszyc, Luis Bernardez, Barbara Sarasola-Day, Pablo Destito & Pablo Giles.

Memorias del Subdesarrollo

September 26th, 2019
Het Nieuwe Instituut

Film synopsis

“Nothing has changed here, at first it looks like a cardboard city. Abandoned imperial eagle, and where is the dove that Picasso was supposed to send? It is easy to be a communist millionaire in Paris… But everything seems so different today. Is it I who has changed or the city?”  – Edmundo Desnoes

Following the departure of his wife, parents, and friends in the wake of the Bay of Pigs incident, the bourgeois intellectual Sergio spends his days wandering Havana in idle reflection, his amorous entanglements and political ambivalence gradually giving way to a mounting sense of alienation. Alone in a brave new world, Sergio observes the constant threat of foreign invasion while chasing young women around the city before finally meeting young Elena, whom he seeks to mould into the image of his ex-wife.

Film info

English Title: Memories of Underdevelopment
Director: Tomás Gutierrez Alea
Screenplay: Edmundo Desnoes
Final runtime: 93 minutes
Year: 1968
Country: Cuba
Produced by ICAIC

Film introduction by

Manuel Freyre was born in La Havana, Cuba in 1961. He is a geologist with a degree in geo technique engineer from TUDelft. Since 2000 he works for the engineering department at the Municipality of Rotterdam, as well as a cultural producer with long experience in cultural events related to film, photography, music, dance and poetry. His engagement with the Cuban community in The Netherlands has taken him to chair the Association of Cubans in The Netherlands between 2006 and 2008, and as Production Director of the Radio Latina Media from 2008 until 2010. Today, Freyre is Director of the Open Kunst Platform that sits at Het Nieuwspoort in Den Haag.