Here’s What to Watch at the Dominican Film Festival in New York

Lead Photo: Courtesy of the Dominican Film Festival
Courtesy of the Dominican Film Festival
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Back for its seventh edition, the annual Dominican Film Festival is hoping to live up to its tag line: “El cine nos une.” After all, nothing brings people together quite like a good movie. Created with the intent to inform New York City audiences about Dominican cinema and its relation to the history, politics and social life of the country through an aesthetic approach, the fest will be showing a vast array of recent flicks from the Caribbean nation. From laugh out loud comedies to probing documentaries tackling contemporary issues, the Manhattan-based fest has something for everyone.

Opening the five-day program is El fantasma de mi novia (My Girlfriend’s Ghost), a supernatural rom-com starring William Levy and Carmen Villalobos. Riffing on that most famous of ghost-related romantic movies of all time (you know, the one that starred Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze), this homegrown production finds Villalobos playing Lupe, an insufferable actress with no regard for anyone else who ends up in a coma after an accident and becomes a wandering spirit with only 9 days to get back into her body before she dies for real. It is up to Levy’s Chepa, a scam artist who can see spirits, to help the clueless young woman learn how to be a better person and come alive again. With fanciful CGI and a supporting cast that looks straight out of Goosebumps, this is a high-concept rom-com you won’t want to miss.

Those looking for yet another take on the romantic comedy may want to check out Héctor M Valdez’s Melocotones, which boasts an international cast. You’ll get to see Club de Cuervos’ Joaquín Ferreira and Velvet‘s Peter Vives face off against the other as two men in love with the same young woman (Spanish actress María Guinea). In a not-so-distant future, Diego (Vives) takes his girlfriend Laura on what turns out to be a disastrous anniversary getaway and decides the only way to make it up to her is to use a time machine to literally go back to when it was all perfect—which is all great until her ex (Ferreira) shows up, ready to ruin Diego’s plan. But that soon goes wrong, forcing Diego to keep going back and meeting his past selves to rectify this time-meddling disaster in this low-fi, sci-fi and wholly absurd comedy.

Plus, in addition to showcasing great Dominican talent, this year’s fest has introduced “The Latino Experience in USA” program. This new section is for non-Dominican filmmakers and the goal is to bring audiences and filmmakers together to support the magic of filmmaking by the Latino Diaspora in the United States of America. Competing for both a short and a feature film award, this year’s selection includes Christopher James Lopez’s Adrift, about a mother dealing with her son’s heroine addiction, and Love with a Colonial Scenta documentary centered on the fight for marriage equality in the island.

And with plenty of other shorts and features on its roster — including a Prince and the Pauper-like comedy titled Hermanos, a documentary on “Cuba’s Little Princess” Carmita, and a look at a Haitian’s attempt to get work in the DR, Jean Gentil — there’s no shortage of films worth seeking out at the end of the month. 

The 7th Annual Dominican Film Festival runs July 24-29, 2018