Political activism has been at the root of CineFestival ever since filmmakers started screening their work as part of the Chicano Film Festival in the late 1960s. Since then, the nation’s longest-running Latino film festival has evolved, undergoing several new iterations over the years. But it has always inspired filmmakers to tell stories about and speak out for Latinos around the globe.
It’s more important than ever that the 41st Annual CineFestival, July 11-14, continues to promote Latino issues in a way that can help combat the rise of racism and the vilification of Latino communities during Trump’s time in office. From the U.S.-sanctioned “detention centers” where immigrant children are being held in terrible conditions to the push for legislative protections for DACA recipients to the emotional narratives about Latinos in the LGBTQ community fighting for their rights and lives, CineFestival is doing its part and making a stand.
“Part of a programmer’s role is to assess the cultural and political landscape to identify issues and themes that are influencing filmmakers and affecting the communities they represent,” said CineFestival programmer Manuel Solis, also a Current contributor. “As a cinema of resistance, Chicano cinema is influential.”
Forty-two films will screen at this year’s festival, whose theme is Frontera in Focus. Of these 42, 30 were shot in Texas or by a Texas filmmaker, while 17 were shot in San Antonio or by a San Antonio filmmaker. Twenty-four were directed or co-directed by women.
During last year’s milestone anniversary at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (GCAC), CineFestival chose to focus on Texas filmmakers. As the numbers suggest, the festival is doing that again this year, but it’s also screening films from nine countries, including Australia, Brazil, Columbia, Mexico, Netherlands, Syria, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.
“For the Guadalupe right now, it is very important to foster local and regional art in storytelling,” said Cristina Balli, executive director of the GCAC. “We want to focus on Texas, the Texas Latinx experience, and nurture the community of Texas filmmakers. The Guadalupe and CineFestival have always presented border art, but at this point in time it is a very relevant subject.”
This year’s Premios Mesquite award winners are The Infiltrators, directed by Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra (Special Jury Award); Building the American Dream, directed by Chelsea Hernandez (Best Documentary); The Garden Left Behind, directed by Flavio Alves (Best Feature Film); Plane Pretend, directed by Sharon Arteaga (Best Short Film); and En La Frontera del Arte (On the Margins of Art), directed by Miranda Harris-Martinez and Mike Curran (Best Short Documentary).
What follows are four short reviews of films screening at this year’s CineFestival:
The Garden Left Behind
Building the American Dream
For a complete schedule of CineFestival screenings, visit guadalupeculturalarts.org/cinefestival.
41st Annual CineFestival
$50 (festival pass); $10 (evening ticket); $8 (daytime ticket) July 11-14
Guadalupe Theater, 1301 Guadalupe St, (210) 271-3151, guadalupeculturalarts.org/cinefestival
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