In its own words, the Boston Latino International Film Festival has, since its inception in 2001, “been committed to using the power of film to break stereotypes, bring cultures and communities together and reveal the complex issues that affect the Latino community in the United States and other Spanish-speaking countries.” With films all the way from Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico among others, its 18th edition shows that the fest has no plans on backing down from that mission.
Among the many highlights at the fest is Nuyorican Básquet. Directed by Julio César Torres and Ricardo Olivero Lora, the sports doc tells the dramatic story of Puerto Rico’s 1979 National Basketball Team, whose players were mainly born or raised in New York. Set against the Cold War politics of the time the film features grainy VHS-type footage from the games as well as an interviews with the likes of Raymond Dalmau, Georgie Torres, Charlie Bermúdez and Nestor Cora.
Giving the fest a prestige boost are two well-received films that have been making the festival rounds and earning great accolades. There’s the dreamy Cocote directed by Nelson Carlo De Los Santos Arias. The crime fable set in the DR follows Alberto, a kind-hearted gardener returning home to attend his father’s funeral. The return prompts a revenge story that Alberto is intent on avoiding. Then there’s The Family (La familia), which recently became Venezuela’s submission to next year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. Set near Caracas, the Gustavo Rondón Córdova-directed flick follows a father and his teenage son who go on the run after a violent altercation puts their lives at risk
On the lighter side is a family wrestling film, Ni tu ni yo (Both of Us). Noé Santillán-López‘s comedy centers on a pair of brothers, Gabino and Guadalupe, who’ll have to set their differences aside to recover the fame they’d once gained as celebrated wrestlers. Then there’s Carla Cavina‘s Extraterrestres, a film that turns the romcom on its queer head. Astrophysicist Teresa is going to get married, so she goes back to her family in Puerto Rico who run a successful chicken farm. Only, the fact she is marrying another woman is not the easiest thing to tell, and her secret starts unraveling all the other family secrets. It will take some galactic perspective to bring them all together again in this gorgeously filmed drama.
But these are but highlights, the four-day fest has plenty more to offer, including documentaries about Ruben Blades, a doc looking at the life and work of “America’s Great Unknown Playwright” Maria Irene Fornes, and even animated shorts about saying goodbye to your loved ones.
The Boston Latino International Film Festival runs September 27 – 30, 2018.