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Festival de Cine Latino Americano brings culture from south of the border

Festival de Cine Latino Americano brings culture from south of the border

The second annual Festival de Cine Latino Americano hosted its opening night at UNT's Radio, TV, Film and Performing Arts building. Talents from the night's screening were in attendance.

Festival de Cine Latino Americano brings culture from south of the border
February 27
11:56 2018

For three days, Latin American culture made a home on UNT’s Campus. The Festival de Cine Latino Americano was hosted from Feb. 23 – 25 and provided showings for a variety of documentaries, movies and showcase all relating to Latino culture.

The opening night of the festival began in the Media Arts Building where the drama feature “La Habitacion” was presented. The film gave viewers a snapshot of Mexican culture and showed what is described as “eight different stories that take place in the same room and in different period of Mexican history.”

One of the stars of the film, Kristyan Ferrer, said the movie was a social criticism of the class structure in Mexico.

“This film is more about what happened in Mexico over the past 100 years,” Ferrer said. “My character in this film is a younger military member, he’s part of the revolutionary movement.”

Though the film centers around Mexican history, Ferrer encourages everyone to watch it as it talks about Mexico’s cultural messages that are deep-rooted in the film and could be applicable to people of many walks of life.

The evening began with a red carpet, at 6 p.m. the room quickly began to fill with conversation and laughter from actors, movie goers and students.

022417_MC_FilmFestival3022417_MC_FilmFestival5022417_MC_FilmFestival10022417_MC_FilmFestival4Edgar Arreola gets interviewed at the Festival de Cine Latino Americano.022417_MC_FilmFestival9
Actors, filmmakers, judges, and members of the Festival de Cine Latino Americano executive committee at the event's opening night.

One of these students was media arts junior Dusty Shipley, with white flowers in her hair that could easily be spotted among the crowd.

Shipley found herself immediately interested after discovering the rarity that a festival is focused on Latino culture, when her professor mentioned the event to her.

“I enjoy the feel of it,” Shipley said. “It’s an actual film festival instead of [just] seeing a blockbuster like the UPC event.”

Hustling through the crowd for the entirety of the evening was Vincente Montezuma, artistic director of The Festival de Cine Latino Americano.

Montezuma said planning for the festival began 12 months ago, where his focus was to bring in the talent from the movies being screened.

“It’s not an easy task, it’s a monster we are trying to move but there’s a lot of people involved,” Moctezuma said.  “There are a lot of departments in the film industry that we’d like to bring in every year to our festival.”

At the entrance of the festival was media arts junior and Cine Latino Americano volunteer coordinator Bethany Larranaga answering questions and directing volunteers.

“I myself am a Mexican-American,” Larranaga said. “It’s really nice to have place where we can come together and celebrate being latino as a whole.”

Larranaga said that while it’s a big responsibility, she loves organizing events and has volunteered at film festivals the entirety of her college career. She began preparing for the film festival months ago when she reached out to her former Spanish teachers, Mexican history professors and fellow media arts majors to begin generating publicity for the films.

Screenwriter Edui Tijerina was the center of attention at festival. His film “Cantinflas,” a tribute to Mexico’s beloved actor, Mario Moreno was screened on Sunday in the Lyceum of UNT’s Union.

“Cantinflas” follows Moreno from his start as a penniless performer in the 1930s to his win at the 1956 Oscars for Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical in the movie “Around the World in 80 Days,” beating out actors at the time like Marlon Brando.

“Writing in any culture is really important, it’s the most important thing especially for movies,” Tijerina said. “I’m not the most important part of the movie, they’re all important. If one fails then the whole thing can fall apart.”

“Cantinflas” was chosen to represent Mexico in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars in 2014.

“It’s important to know who your audience is,” Tijerina said. “If someone sits down and writes without knowing who their audience is, then they are writing for themselves, not the audience.”

However, Tijerina’s success didn’t come without hard work and an immense amount of research to portray the character accurately. He spoke to people who knew Moreno personally, looked through newspapers and read up on the influential mexican man as much as he could.

On Saturday, Tijerina also taught a screenwriting masterclass. Though it was his first time visiting the Denton/Dallas area, he was impressed with the support surrounding the festival in Denton.

On Saturday at 12:30 p.m., “Paz, Amor, Y Música the Alex Ruiz story” was also featured in the Lyceum which told the story of the band Del Castillo and their lead singer, Alex Ruiz.

The documentary, directed by Israel Marquez, was being formally screened for the first time ever. Marquez and Ruiz greeted the audience before the show, letting them know that the entirety of the documentary was shot directly from an iPhone.

In the documentary, Ruiz told a story of when he had an epiphany while working his job as a foreman. As Ruiz was digging a hole searching for a pipe in the pouring rain, he realized he needed a life change. The film also managed to capture Ruiz’s energy during onstage performances, showcasing his strength as a natural-born musician who embraced all genres of music while still representing latino culture.

Ruiz was often compared to Steven Tyler and McJagger throughout the film. His bandmates and friends make the connections because of the natural flare Ruiz has on stage when he performs.

“We’re all brothers, that’s the beauty of it,” Ruiz said.

The film festival ended on a swirling, colorful note at 6 p.m. on Sunday evening with the closing awards in the Lyceum.

The evening was filled with the Rondalla Romantica De Dallas, Mexican Folklorico Dancers, a tribute to Pedro Infante and even Cantinflas himself, in a show-stopping moment, made an appearance.

“It’s a lot of stress, but we love it and we love what we do,” Moctezuma said. “At the end after the festival when everything is done we are so proud because we were able to accomplish our plans and ideas.”

Featured Image: The second annual Festival de Cine Latino Americano hosted its opening night at UNT’s Radio, TV, Film and Performing Arts building. Talents from the night’s screening were in attendance. Mallory Cammarata

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Anna Orr

Anna Orr

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1 Comment

  1. Red
    Red February 27, 21:34

    Very well written and informative . The Mexican and American cultures have been co/mingled for many years.

    Reply to this comment

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