Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at the Seattle Latino Film Festival


by Kathya Alexander

The Seattle Latino Film Festival (SLFF) opened in person on Friday, October 8 and runs through Sunday, October 17.

The festivities began last Friday at the Seattle Asian Art Museum with an opening gala and an after-party reception. Dennis Mencia, a Honduran American actor known for playing Mateo Villanueva on CW’s Joan the Virgin, was MC for the event. The gala featured Uruguayan comedy, The Broken Glass Theory, one of the festival’s 106 in-person and online films supporting the magic of cinema as part of Hispanic culture globally.

The in-person presentation continued at the Beacon Cinema in Columbia City on Saturday with an American film titled Rating, directed by Jessica Hester and Derek Schweickart. The Venezuelan film, Opposite direction, and an LGBTQ film titled Liz in september. Director, Fina Torres, best known for Fox Searchlight’s Woman on top with Penélope Cruz, was present for the Q&A after the screening.

Launched in 2009 by Cuban immigrant Jorge Enrique González, SLFF is the only one of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Coinciding with Hispanic Heritage Month, the festival takes place each year in October. This year again, the films come from all over the world, including Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, United States, Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Greece, Italy, Puerto Rico. and Spain.

Canceled last year due to COVID-19, this year SLFF will strictly follow federal, state and local COVID-19 safety protocols. Hand sanitizers and masks will be provided on site for in-person visits. Participants, regardless of their immunization status, must wear masks for cinema screenings.

Tonight at 7 p.m., two short documentaries and two short films will be screened at the Beacon Cinema by filmmakers from the Pacific Northwest, including Value and sacrifice by Seattle-based Emilio Miguel Torres. Many other student filmmakers from the Pacific Northwest will also have their films screened during the 10-day festival.

There is also an online portion of SLFF which started on October 11 and runs until October 17. Nari Weaver, executive director of development for this year, said the festival is very strategic about which films to show in person and which to screen. in line.

“Since obviously we have a pandemic going on and a lot of people are freaking out about not wanting to go out, we’ve put the majority of the documentaries online – the reason a lot of people go to the festival – online. What you see in person, you won’t see online. Weaver recommends everyone to see one of his favorites, The kings of rumba. Often called African Jazz, the story of Congolese rumba is the story of a people who decided to fight the oppression of their Belgian colonizers through music.

The fully volunteer staff of SLFF devote their time, energy and passion to this festival to give people the opportunity to see authentic experiences of Hispanic culture, including literature, dance, anime and art in a unique cinematic perspective.

The aim is to bring together audiences and filmmakers for an educational and intercultural experience by showing a diverse selection of films that go against Latino stereotypes often seen in the mainstream film industry. Some of the films shown in SLFF are in Spanish, others in Italian, others in Portuguese, all with English subtitles. The unique films were selected by a team of seven visionaries, a group of people from all over the world, Weaver explained.

“It’s not the typical stereotype of what you would be used to seeing. For example, with Latino actors, if you go to Hollywood and see the main characters they do… you’re the maid or you’re the gardener. Here you will be able to watch awesome indie movies and it has nothing to do with the stereotype, where you can be the bad guy or you can be the main character. I think that’s the beauty of it all. It’s just pure diversity and it’s just beautiful. The contents that everyone brings are just vitamins for your eyes.

Nari Weaver, executive director of development for this year’s Seattle Latino Film Festival, recommends festival goers see one of her favorites “The Rumba Kings”. Photo courtesy of Nari Weaver.

In addition to cash prizes, film festivals like this also provide the opportunity for new filmmakers to have their films screened in front of a live audience and reviewed by professional critics. Once a film is chosen for SLFF, it is easier to enter other festivals and catch the attention of agents and managers who might never have known of its existence otherwise.

SLFF gives the people of Seattle the opportunity to support independent international filmmakers so people can see that there is something more. “The more we spread the word and the more we support these filmmakers, the more content we will have. We don’t need Hollywood for that. Our people are going to bring it out, ”Weaver said, using The kings of rumba for example. “If a lot of people are backing this movie, I’m pretty sure HBO will pick it up.”

The Full Festival Pass costs $ 100 ($ 50 for seniors and students) and gives you access to the entire Beacon Cinema program as well as the streaming program via slff.org. After purchasing your ticket online, send the ticket number to Nari Weaver at [email protected] to get your waiver code.

Catherine Alexander is a writer, actor, storyteller and teaching artist. His writings have appeared in various publications such as ColorsNW Magazine and Arkana Magazine. She has won several awards, including the Jack Straw Artist Support Program Award. His collection of short stories, Angel in addiction, is available on Amazon.

?? Featured Image: Seattle Latin Film Festival (SLFF). Photo courtesy of Nari Weaver.

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