The Latin America and Spain Film Festival comes to an end today with the showing of an Ecuadorian mockumentary, followed by a romantic comedy from Argentina.

2016 film A Secret in the Box (Un secreto en la caja) laments the plight of Ecuador, relegated to the role of little cousin to its bigger and more successful neighbours in South America.

With Ecuador never having a Nobel prize-winning literary figure to rival Colombia's Gabriel García Márquez, Argentina's Borges, Peru's Mario Vargas Llosa or Chile's Pablo Neruda, director Javier Izquierdo is forced to invent Marcelo Chiriboga, a fictional famous author, to explore the country's identity crisis.

Poking fun at the literary world and the nation's pathetic history of ceding territory to its neighbours over many decades of war, Izquierdo highlights the politics, preoccupations and obsessions of his homeland. Chiriboga, "the tropical Kafka," becomes the last vestige of a country at risk of fading into oblivion.


The romantic comedy which closes the festival later in the evening could not be more different. Ariel Winograd's No Kids (Sin hijos) was a major hit in Argentina and ran twelve weeks at Number 1.

No kids tells the story of Gabriel, divorced for four years, who dotes on his eight-year-old daughter Sofia.

Then the woman of his dreams comes into his life, and she hates children.

To stand a chance of winning her heart he must conceal Sofia's existence, which leads him into ever-thicker subterfuge and entanglement.

Lead actor Diego Peretti, an Argentinian Hugh Grant, goes from strength to strength as the continent's top comically neurotic romantic lead. Veteran Spanish actress Maribel Verdu is not best known for comedy (she played a key role in Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth) but here does fine work as the child-phobic romantic lover.

The Secret in the Box screens at 4pm, and No Kids screens at 7pm on Saturday 10 November at the Davis Lecture Theatre, Whanganui Regional Museum, Watt St. Entry to both films is free, koha appreciated.