Picture, if you will, a film festival. You probably conjure images of film-biz insiders chatting in incomprehensible industry lingo and tickets selling for roughly the cost of two weeks’ rent, right?
CineLatino is not that kind of film festival.
When organizer Ernie Quiroz brought CineLatino to Denver last year through the Denver Film Society, he wanted to highlight the very best in Latin American film in a way that was accessible to everyone. With weekend passes priced at well under $100 and a festival line-up ranging from animated flicks to documentaries, it’s safe to say that CineLatino is about as accessible as it gets—which is critical for a side of the film world that doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves.
“The early 2000s saw a renaissance in Latin American filmmaking,” Quiroz says, with filmmakers like Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu gaining widespread acclaim. (If Iñárritu’s name sounds familiar, it’s probably for the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay honors he picked up for Birdman at the Oscars this year.) According to the organizers of CineLatino, though, there are a lot more great films coming out of Latin America that aren’t yet gaining national attention.
“At CineLatino, we show films that have been selected for major festivals and that are award winners, but that you might not have seen in theaters,” Quiroz says. “There’s so much rhetoric about immigration right now, so with the festival, we said, ‘Let’s celebrate this culture.’ There’s so much more to Latin America than the divisive issues you see in the news like immigration and drugs.”
The films of CineLatino show off many sides of Latin America, from its gastronomic culture (see festival opener Finding Gaston, a documentary playing Friday night about Peruvian superstar chef Gastón Acurio), to its music (see festival closer Landfill Harmonic, on an upcycling Paraguayan orchestra that makes their instruments out of upcycled trash). Other events throughout the weekend are designed to enhance this cultural celebration, from a tequila tasting to food demonstrations from local chefs. After the screening of animated family film The Book of Life, there will even be a panel of experts on hand to explain the Día de los Muertos traditions that inspired the film—and to help you decorate your own sugar skull.
As Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, CineLatino will help you rethink what you know about Latin America—and about film festivals.
Attend: CineLatino runs September 24-27 at the SIE Film Center, 2510 E. Colfax Ave. Tickets available here, $55–70.