Latin film festival begins this weekend

CARSON - The second annual Latin American Film Festival gets underway at Cal State Dominguez Hills this weekend and features seven feature-length films and one short film over four days, Feb. 17-22 and March 1-3, in Loker Student Union.The festival is free and open to the public. The movies, presented in Spanish and most with English subtitles, focus on social criticism. "These are tough, very real movies," said Benito Gomez, Ph.D., festival coordinator and associate professor of modern languages at CSU Dominguez Hills. "The idea is to make people think and to show the realities of Latin America and to spark discussion about social issues." To get a variety of films from different Latin American countries, Gomez compiled a panel of experts, who made recommendations for the festival. Opening the festival on Feb. 17 are two films selected by the Salvadoran Foundation for the Arts: "Children and Migration" - the festival's only short film - and "La Vida Loca," a 2008 documentary about street gangs in El Salvador directed by French-Spanish documentarian Christian Poveda, who was killed a year later by members of the same gang the film documents. The films will be shown back to back beginning at noon. "La Vida Loca is a graphic film, but it delivers the message it's intended to. It's a sad story," said Sandra Mendoza, executive director for the Salvadoran Foundation for the Arts. "The end point is that (Poveda) who was doing investigative work on El Salvadorian gangs started working as an informant and was killed by the same gang he was investigating." The festival continues Feb. 22 with a 1 p.m. screening of "Tony Manero," a Chilean movie which centers on a serial killer obsessed with John Travolta's character in "Saturday Night Fever." Then, at 4 p.m., will be "El Cielito," a 2004 Argentinean drama about an orphaned drifter who cares for the infant son of neglectful parents. Two critically acclaimed films from Mexico and Cuba will screen at 1 and 4 p.m. on March 1. First, the 2000 Academy Award-nominated "Amores Perros," which is sometimes referred to as "Mexican Pulp Fiction," followed by the 2003 Havana Film Festival winner, "Suite Habana," which follows several people throughout one day in Cuba. The last day of the festival, March 3, features a comedic drama from Argentina, 'La Cienaga," which depicts two families whose adults find solace in drinking to relieve family tensions, and the Peruvian/Spanish film, "La Teta Asustada," which explores abusive military tactics imposed on women. The films will be shown at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively. Following each film, professors from Cal State Dominguez Hills and Long Beach, UCLA, Pierce College, Scripps College and Case Western Reserve will conduct, in English, a presentation and Q&A session with audience members. For a complete schedule of show times, visit Admission to the festival is free but on-campus parking is $4 daily.

********** Published: February 17, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 44