‘The Conversation Is Getting Louder and Louder’: 3 Films to Watch at the New York Latino Film Festival


El Espace is a column dedicated to news and culture relevant to Latinx communities. Expect politics, arts, analysis, personal essays and more. ¿Lo mejor? It’ll be in Spanish and English, so you can forward it to your tía, your primo Lalo or anyone else (read: everyone).

The summer before I turned 11, my Abuela Estela finally got rid of the rusty, rainbow-colored swing set in her backyard. It was the last season I got to spend my afternoons eating overripe figs from the tree in her courtyard on those columpios, baking under the sun and scratching my mosquito bites.

A scene in Diana Peralta’s directorial debut, “De Lo Mio,” which follows two sisters who travel to the Dominican Republic after their grandmother’s death, evoked a similar nostalgia in me — one that many children of the diaspora learn to carry in their chests. In an early scene, one of the sisters, Carolina, sits on her abuela’s porch, drinking a cup of coffee. The camera slowly pans from Carolina to the sky, as she gazes at the lush framboyán trees that tower over her. I cried when I watched this scene, thinking of the fig tree and swing set in my own abuela’s backyard.

“De Lo Mio” is one of the 83 films from 10 countries that will screen at the New York Latino Film Festival, which was founded in 1999 and has since functioned as a pipeline for creators, as well as a space for dialogue on Latinx representation in film. The Nuyorican filmmaker Calixto Chinchilla founded the festival at 21, after directing his first short. He wanted to create a space where Latinx filmmakers could exhibit their work, share knowledge and “get the suits to see what we were doing,” he said.

It worked: The festival secured sponsorship from HBO during its first year and is still an important steppingstone for Latinx creators who want to break into the industry. The conversation around the representation of marginalized voices in the film industry has since mushroomed, and Chinchilla said that the festival has been dedicated to diversity within the Latinx community, telling L.G.B.T.Q. and black Latinx stories since its inception.

“Slowly but surely, we’re having studios that are realizing, ‘Well, we have no choice,’” Chinchilla said. “The conversation is getting louder and louder.”

Though some culture critics have narrowly focused this conversation on who is in front of or behind the camera, Chinchilla said that the quality of the stories is just as important as the creators themselves. Many of the same themes explored in the early films shown at the festival are still relevant today, he said, which creates a challenge when it comes to curation. “You can be redundant on immigration. You can be redundant on police brutality issues,” he said, and the festival tries to “create a balance.”

This year’s festival, which kicks off Aug. 12, includes shorts, documentaries, experimental films and features from both Latin American and U.S.-born Latinos. Here are a few to watch.

In Peralta’s film, two sisters, Rita (Sasha Merci) and Carolina (Darlene Demorizi), return to their late grandmother’s home in the Dominican Republic after her death, working with their estranged brother, Dante (Héctor Aníbal), to clean out the house before it is demolished. Peralta’s slow panning shots are a love letter to the Dominican Republic’s lush and verdant landscapes. As the siblings confront family traumas, they reach a small but powerful emotional catharsis. I guarantee it’ll put you in your diaspora feels.

In “The Infiltrators,” directed by Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera, a group of young undocumented activists infiltrate a for-profit detention center in Broward County to stop deportations and expose the conditions of the Florida facility. Though it doesn’t always hit, the docu-thriller’s experimental approach makes for a compelling watch, illustrating how true to life and relevant the film’s action is by switching between documentary footage and re-enactments.

This sports thriller set in Miami follows the aspiring M.M.A. fighter Alonso Santos as he climbs the ranks of the fighting world while struggling with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Cassius Corrigan, who directed, wrote and stars in the movie, depicts Santos’s exploration of the mysterious childhood trauma that triggered his illness, which he delves into with his court-appointed therapist, played by Yara Martinez (“Jane the Virgin”). Santos’s disorder is treated with refreshing fullness and respect; several scenes capture the therapy sessions and exact healing techniques used by Martinez’s character. I’m the least athletic person on the planet, and I couldn’t stop watching.



Source link LifeStyle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *