Cine Latino film festival is back

The fest returns for its second year to showcase Latin American filmmakers.

by Brenda Tran

The Film Society of Minneapolis-St. Paul is bringing Cine Latino back for its second year from Nov.  19 to 25. The film festival, which takes place at St. Anthony Main Theatre, will showcase new and classic cinema from the Spanish-speaking world. 
Jesse Bishop, programming director at the Film Society, said Cine Latino was an event born out of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. While MSPIFF is a diverse event with 200 films from more than  60 countries each year, many people within the community indicated a desire for more events specific to certain regions, he said. 
Conversations with members of the Latino community, local arts organizations and leaders led to the creation of a film program that focuses on Latin cinema and culture, he said.
“I get to look at all these wonderful films and help decide as a team what we should be bringing to the Minneapolis-St. Paul community. It’s a collaborative effort — we have
advisers that tell us the kind of films we’re looking for,” Bishop said. 
He said the process of bringing Cine Latino to life involved a hefty amount of festival visits, film sourcing and careful curating.
Bishop emphasized a desire for programming inclusive to Spanish speakers in the Twin Cities, adding that the local Latino immigrant population played a part in the film selection. 
Organizers chose the films with the help of an advisory board consisting of about 30 people representing 22 different countries, a number of them from Latin American countries. He said the Film Society has also been working to reach out with a community engagement staff person who is part of the Latino community.  
The festival features a variety of films from Latin countries, such as Mexico, Spain, Ecuador and Peru.
Cine Latino’s programming has received positive responses from local film enthusiasts, Spanish speakers in the community and local arts organizations alike. 
“We’ve had 100 percent positive feedback so far. … We are doing this now at the behest of the Spanish-speaking community here, who eagerly await for the films to be seen onscreen. Otherwise most of them wouldn’t be seen on the screen,” Executive Director Susan Smoluchowski said. 
One of the main highlights of the festival includes an appearance by Ecuadorian filmmaker Tito Molina. His film “Silencio en la tierra de los suenos” (“Silence in Dreamland”) screens on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22. Molina will attend both showings. 
The film, released in 2013, was selected as the Ecuadorian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards. The movie is a reflection on loneliness
and follows an elderly woman whose days are filled with silence after the death of her husband, until she befriends a stray dog. 
Molina is part of an ongoing boom in Ecuadorian cinema. In the ’90s, the small Latin American country made just five feature films. Today, an average of 20 films a year are produced.
Paola Nunez-Obetz, a member of the advisory group, suggested the screening of “Silence in Dreamland.” She was instrumental in introducing the film and filmmaker to the Cine Latino team and played a large role in coordinating Molina’s visit.
“I think the film is very artistic, and it speaks about a subject … that not many people would want to talk about, but he films it in a very artistic and poetic way,” Nunez-Obetz said. “I felt that his voice needed to be heard.”
The end goal of Cine Latino, as with all Film Society programs, is to bring together members of the community and bridge the gap between the public and cinema.
“We want to continue to be a welcoming home for people interested in cinema as an art form and discovering new ideas,” Bishop said.