Tuesday, 09 September 2014 12:55

What Makes a Film Festival Latino?

During the second annual Cine Magnífico Latino Film Festival, we will all be presented with and reminded of images, sounds and textures of Latin America.  But, in the process, we will also be presented with conflicts that are central to all forms of art and human experience.  

cine mag photo

“Bad Hair”, “The Golden Dream”, “Anina” and “School Days” are just a few examples of how this year’s films take on the conflicts of youth and coming-of-age.  “The Lock Charmer”, “My Straight Son” and “Spanish Affair” showcase the power of love and romance to transcend culture and political boundaries.   

This cultural-political entity that we call Latin America is infinitely diverse, and the wide variety of settings and characters employed in this year’s film line up serves as a testament to that diversity.  That being said, however, there is certainly a sense of what it means to be Latino or Latino American, especially here in the U.S. where cultural lines often become blurry and personal identities difficult to define.  In this way, our collective experience at this year’s Latino Film Festival will not necessarily be centered around defining what makes a film a Latino film, or even in the broader sense, what makes a person or a community Latino. 

albuquerque-skyline

Rather, Cine Magnífico Latino Film festival, supported in conjunction with Instituto Cervantes, the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Latin American & Iberian Institute, is a festival that celebrates art and humanity.  While the film lineup is, in part, affected by political boundaries that define what is Latin America, the cultural boundaries that all of us experience on a daily basis are far more fluid than national borders, and rather than centering around nationality or even language, which can serve as agents of division, art and culture are often centered around universal emotions and desires that bind us together. 

Rebecca L. Avitia, Executive Director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center, beautifully remarked for our blog that “film has the unique ability to transcend the boundaries of culture and language and show that we all have common experiences,” adding that “this year’s extraordinary lineup of films is further proof of that.”  We look forward to this year’s Cine Magnífico Latino Film Festival to be a community spectacle in all senses of the term: a place where people convene to enjoy film, together.        

 

Published in Festival

Although “The Golden Dream” (“La jaula del oro”) is writer-director Diego Quemada-Diez’s first feature-length film, it is not his first time working with themes and images of Mexico-U.S. immigration.  

Director Quemada-Diez working on the set of "The Golden Dream"

The Spanish native who is now based out of Mexico City was a camera operator in the 2003 hit film “21 Grams”, directed and written by the renowned duo of Mexico City natives, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu and Guillermo Arriaga. 

The three main characters in "The Golden Dream"

 

“21 Grams” is a masterfully designed tale set in various locations throughout the world, one of which includes a woman and two children lost in the desert borderlands between Mexico and the U.S.  In “The Golden Dream”, Quemada-Diez draws on the quiet, austere landscapes of the rural areas in Mexico that attract the many north-bound migrants seeking to keep themselves from the eyes of the public as they make their way to the border.

One of Quemada-Diez’s major achievements in this film is his ability to elicit magnificent performances out of three non-professional actors.  Quemada-Diez’s “The Golden Dream” which began production in 2013 and was released in Mexico in May of this year, could not have come to the U.S. market at a better time, as the issue of Central American children illegally crossing the border has come to occupy a central storyline for mainstream media outlets since the summer.  “The Golden Dream” follows three main characters, teenagers from a village in Guatemala. 

Quemada-Diez on set with young actors

In the end, it is that rawness which renders this film a sincere and not sensationalized portrayal of the journey north. 

“The Golden Dream”, which won awards at Cannes, 

Quemada-Diez and his young cast at awards show

Chicago and Palm Springs, among others, was touted for its honest and direct approach to the portrayal of the heart wrenching and vicious truths of this journey, which has come to occupy a part of the American Dream imaginary, often distorted and simplified, if for no other reason than its perceived commonality or an overall cultural laziness to delve deeply into the truths and realities of those making the journey north every day. 

Scene from "The Golden Dream"

Working on “21 Grams” with Iñarritu and Arriaga, who together are responsible for the films “Amores Perros” and “Babel” in addition to “21 Grams” (that’s 3 Oscar nominations and 1 win), Quemada-Diez could not have been afforded a better learning opportunity for dealing with scenes and images of border crossings – it would be akin to a minor league ballplayer for the Albuquerque Isotopes getting the chance to sit in the dugout with Dodgers all-stars Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw.

This Showcase Film screening is a must see not just for film aficionados, but for everyone in our border-state community interested in truth, sincerity and the ultimate beauty, and irony, of youth and dreams.  Don’t miss it!!

Screening Saturday, September 13th @4:30 PM.  See you there!!

Published in Films