The Sin Fronteras Film Festival was started four years ago by SOLAS, the University of New Mexico's Latin American Studies group. “The festival was pretty small and mostly focused on sociopolitical concerns,” admits Dorothy Baca, who has signed on this year as the festival's new director. Baca, who also serves as director for the Arts of the Americas Institute at UNM's College of Fine Arts, hopes 2006 will be a breakout year for the festival, reaching out of the campus and into the community.
“My interest in the festival is how do I bring in New Mexico Hispanic students to UNM?” According to Baca, UNM has a “dismal” record for dropouts among Hispanic and Native American students. She believes, however, that digital media is the perfect outlet to give both voice and purpose to typically disenfranchised, often economically depressed minorities. “For me, the Festival is about engaging up-and-coming Hispanic students.” Baca worked for years in Hollywood, and frequently saw the lack of Latino voices. “When I worked in Hollywood, many many times I was the only Hispanic.” Nowadays, she sees the tide turning, and Sin Fronteras is perfect proof.
The Sin Fronteras Film Festival--taking place April 20-23 at a variety of Albuquerque venues--features exclusively Latino films and filmmakers. The 2006 lineup will include over 40 shorts, documentaries, features and animated pieces from all across the Spanish-speaking world. There are films from South America, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, Spain and right here in the U.S.
The festival launches this Thursday with a free 7 p.m. screening at the historic KiMo Theatre in downtown Albuquerque. The opening night film, Machuca, comes from Chile. Set against the turbulent backdrop of General Pinochet's 1973 coup, the film is a moving story of friendship between two young boys from different sides of the social spectrum.
On Friday, UNM Instructor of Media Arts Carl J. Mora (author of El Santo vs. the Inner Demons of Ripstein: A Real-Life Character Crosses Over into the Fiction Film) and Dr. Rogelio Agrasanchez, Jr. (author of Mexican Movies in the United States: 1920-1960) start the day with a tag-team lecture on the history of Mexican cinema. This lecture/booksigning will take place beginning at noon at UNM's ARTS Lab Garage.
At 2:30 p.m., the Guild Cinema in Nob Hill will kick off its movie screenings with a block of New Mexico-lensed short films, including Chris Garcia's “Mismatch.com,” Patrick Mehaffy's “Cowboys & Indians” and Roberto Valdez & Dennis Chavez' “Provincia de Navajo.” Screenings continue throughout the day with highlights from the Cine Sin Fin Festival in East L.A. and the local premiere of the Spanish ensemble drama Malas Temporadas.
On Saturday, the festival gets to the heart of the matter, holding the New Mexico Filmmakers Forum from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the ARTS Lab Garage. Interactive panels will feature local filmmakers, actors and producers speaking about their experiences shooting films here in New Mexico. Participants include Mara Holguin, Arcie Chapa, Marcos Baca, Margot Segura, Teresa Osa Hidalgo de la Riva and Bruno Rivera.
“Everything is about being able to interact and network,” says Baca. “I want to get that started for people who are thinking about getting into the business.”
A series of Native and Spanish shorts follows the Filmmakers Forum back at the Guild on Saturday afternoon. The evening caps off with feature screenings at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and the Guild.
The festival comes to a crowded close on Sunday with films from Costa Rica (Melting Pot), Argentina (Burnt Oranges), Venezuela (Talking of Power), Mexico (Ahí Esta el Detalle) and more. In addition to the screenings, several of the filmmakers will be in attendance to discuss their work. The producer/director of KordaVision, which Baca describes as a “magnificent documentary” about famed Cuban photographer Alberto “Korda” Diaz, is one of them.
For Baca, guests and interactive panels are important because Sin Fronteras is “not just about watching films and having a political discussion. For filmmakers it's really valuable to listen to others and see how they got their work done.” Baca hopes that New Mexico's film scene will continue to grow and that Sin Fronteras will serve as annual inspiration for would-be camera-slingers. After all, says Baca, “Albuquerque cannot be an isolated part of this great national and international discourse.”