After 13 years, the final curtain is closing on the New York International Latino Film Festival. After trying various cost-cutting techniques and exploring the possibility of selling or merging the festival, founder Calixto Chinchilla and his team were faced with financial woes beyond their control.
For over decade, NYILFF served as the largest Latino urban film festival in the United States. Helping celebrate the evolving voice of Latinos all over the world, hundreds of films were submitted every year before the final cut was made. Chinchilla was dedicated to showing the full spectrum of the Latino experience, curating a film line-up with dynamic shorts and features from both young and aged filmmakers; a little something for all tastes. In 2011 their advertisements decorated the city, brightly colored and clever, promoting real storytelling in films, versus Hollywood’s version of movies as numbing entertainment.
Despite a partnership with HBO and a relatively modest $500,000 budget, NYILFF couldn’t compete with NYC’s high priced market. Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival had a similar problem, when their 2012 event went on hiatus due to lack of fundraising.
Crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter had $60 Million in donations towards film projects in 2012, so where do we come in? Is it up to the Latino audience to resuscitate or do we need more high profile names attached to our festivals, like founder Robert Deniro and the Tribeca Film Festival? Edward James Olmos is a veteran actor and even his involvement couldn’t save LAILFF from a little backslide.
If NYC is having trouble sharing the Latino experience, what does that mean for the storytellers hidden in all the corners of the world? The closing of NYIFF is heartbreaking for budding filmmakers and their fans alike, but our stories will not be silenced.