Given the rich Latino heritage that runs through Colorado, it’s surprising that a properly programmed and produced film festival celebrating all of our diverse hermanos y hermanas took so long to appear. It wasn’t until last year that the Denver Film Society produced the first CineLatino Film Festival — and now the films and fiesta of the second edition are ready to unreel. “Year one was where we discovered that there was definitely a need and a hunger for this program, and so we approached year two with a desire to bring even more to the community,” says JoAnna Cintrón, co-founder of the festival.
The second fest, running this Thursday through Sunday at the Sie FilmCenter, is a highlight of Hispanic Heritage Month and will feature twelve films that celebrate the complexities, achievements and history of Latino filmmakers, actors and subjects alike. Outside of the achievements onscreen, Cintrón’s work pushing the festival, her sweet and sassy demeanor, and her strong voice in helping steer programming to all shades of the Latino spectrum helped earn her a spot in the just announced twelve Coors Light Líderes for her exceptional contributions to the Latino community.
The honor could turn into Cintron being named Líder of the Year, a title that comes with an impressive $25,000 grant that would further develop CineLatino. "It is truly an honor to be chosen to represent the Denver Film Society and CineLatino for this year's Coors Light Líderes program," says Cintrón. "Coors Light is committed to investing in the professional development of emerging Latino leaders and I am excited by the possibility of receiving this grant and expanding the Denver Film Society's efforts to promote diversity in front of and behind the camera." You can vote for Cintron to become Líder of the Year at coorslightlideres.com from now until October 29.
But while the voting continues, Cintrón has a festival to push. And she took time for her crowded schedule to offer the Top Five film events of CineLatino that you don’t want to miss:
5) Opening Night Film: Finding Gaston
Screens Thursday, September 24 at 7:30 p.m.
“This is a delicious documentary on Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio, who has been credited with popularizing Peruvian cuisine worldwide while using food as a means of social change.” says Cintrón. “Beyond the fact that it is an incredible story, the Peruvian community is actually the second largest Latino community in Denver, and we will lucky to be able to bring this story to the big screen. Thankfully, we will have a fully catered Peruvian pre-reception, courtesy of Relish Catering, and a cooking demonstration by Los Cabos II (one of the top Peruvian restaurants in the country, that happens to be downtown) after the film, so no one will go home hungry.”
4) La Juala de Oro
Screens Friday, September 25 at 7 p.m.
This coming-of-age tale focuses on three Guatemalan teens looking for hope on the other side of the Mexico/USA border. “Up-and-coming Mexican director Diego Quemada-Diez will be in-person to present his film and participate in a post screening Q&A,” says Cintrón. “The film premiered at Cannes in 2014, received thirteen Ariels (Mexico's version of the Oscar), and multiple international awards. CineLatino is about showcasing the best in Latino film, and it is exciting to bring this film to audiences who may not have even had it on their radar.”
3) Free Family Screening: The Book of Life
Screens Saturday, September 26 at 11 a.m.
This animated exploration of Día de Los Muertos delighted audiences in 2014 and is perfect to show just before the upcoming holiday. “One of my favorite films last year, this animated feature is not to be missed.” says Cintrón. “It's educational, entertaining and stunningly beautiful. We will have representatives from the Denver Botanic Gardens (known for its amazing Día de Los Muertos celebrations) and Mexican Cultural Center on hand to discuss the folklore and symbolism behind Día de Los Muertos. Attendees will also get to decorate their own sugar skull to take home.”
2) Marshland / La Isla Mínima
Screens Saturday, September 26 at 4:30 pm
“This film won ten Goya Awards (Spain's version of the Oscar), including Best Picture. Beyond that, there is definitely a True Detective vibe to this one, and if you are a fan of a good thriller, you are going to love this,” says Cintrón.
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1) Closing Night Film: Landfill Harmonic
Screens Sunday, September 27 at 7 p.m.
This fascinating doc stars the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. “You might be familiar with this story, as it has been featured on 60 Minutes, NPR, CNN, and the list goes on,” says Cintrón. “But you won't want to miss the full-length documentary. Not to mention, we are bringing it full circle by partnering with the Flobots' non-profit, Youth on Record. Young musicians from the organization, which empowers youth through music education, will perform during the reception before the film.”
CineLatino lights up the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 East Colfax Avenue, September 24 through September 27. Tickets range from $10 to $25 per event, or you can purchase a special festival pass for $70 ($55 for DFS members) at denverfilm.org.