Film Festival guru Robert Appicciafoco is exhausted. No wonder. He just wrapped up work on the Dark Matters Film Festival, a horror-centric film fest that debuted in May. He’s about to launch the first annual ¡Cine Magnífico! Latino Film Festival. And he’s still got loads to do on the 11th Annual Southwest Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, hitting Albuquerque in October of this year. No rest for the wicked, though. There are still plenty of tickets to be sold, volunteers to be coordinated and film prints to wrangle for this weekend’s inaugural ¡Cine Magnífico!
This brand-new, four-day festival—presented by Instituto Cervantes of Albuquerque, the University of New Mexico Latin American and Iberian Institute and the National Hispanic Cultural Center—takes place Thursday, May 30, through Sunday, June 2. It is dedicated entirely to films from (and about) Spain, Latin America and Latinos in the United States.
“New Mexico is poised to become an internationally renowned locale for Latino cinema,” explains Milly Castañeda-Ledwith, cofounder of the festival and cultural events coordinator for Instituto Cervantes. “We’ve designed the festival to build on New Mexico’s expansive heritage and emerging film industry—two features that provide a platform for engaging contemporary filmmakers to bring their work to Albuquerque.”
Look no further than the festival’s opening night gala to get a handle on what ¡Cine Magnífico! has in mind. On Thursday, starting at 7 p.m., the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Bank of America Theater will screen the acclaimed Spanish film Blancanieves. This lush fantasy reframes the classic fairy tale of Snow White as a black-and-white, silent film about a female bullfighter in 1920s Seville. Sexy, witty, magical and thoroughly infused with the sounds of flamenco, Blancanieves is an eye-opening look at the sort of films coming out of today’s Latino cinema scene.
Friday through Sunday, the festival picks up at Nob Hill’s Guild Cinema with films like Elefante Blanco (White Elephant), a saga of good intentions gone violently wrong in Buenos Aires, and Sofía y el Terco (Sofia and the Stubborn Man), a deft depiction of an older woman’s solo journey across remote Colombia. All films are presented in Spanish or Portuguese with English subtitles, ensuring a fine mix of multilingual audiences. Individual tickets run $8 for students and seniors or $10 for general audiences. Four-film punch cards ($35) and full-festival passes ($60) are available as well.
A total of 11 features and seven short films will be screened throughout the weekend. They run the gamut from documentaries (Guatemala’s La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus) to family films (the Puerto Rico-by-way-of-New York dramedy Tio Papi) to political dramas (the “Dirty War”-era Argentine film Infancia Clandestina). The sheer variety of films at this year’s ¡Cine Magnífico! proves that Latino film isn’t a genre unto itself, but a vast industry just waiting to be tapped by the American market. Get yourself a taste, starting this Thursday.