Pictured Above: A still from “The Pink Lagoon,” showing at the Westhampton Beach PAC Sept. 17
Adventure, strength, and inspiration form the conceptual and thematic core of this year’s 20th Anniversary Latino Film Festival, which is filled this year with premieres at three venues throughout the South Fork Sept. 14 through Sept. 17.
This year’s festival, organized by Organización Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island (OLA), highlights four feature-length films and one animated short film from Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico and Canada. All films are in Spanish with English subtitles, a feature of the festival since its inception designed to bring a multicultural group of festivals together in shared appreciation of the global resonance of cinema.
“We are thrilled to host two U.S. premieres and one New York premiere for our 20th anniversary year,” says OLA’s Executive Director, Minerva Perez. “It will be quite the celebration, presenting five culturally rich and hopeful films representing five countries. We are delighted to be partnering again with the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, in addition to our longtime partner the Parrish Art Museum and, for the fourth year in a row, Sag Harbor Cinema.”
“This film festival remains at the heart of OLA’s cultural programming as it allows for a shared experience through storytelling that connects us just when we need it most,” she added. “These films will inspire and challenge audiences in profound and lasting ways.”
This year’s festival opens with the fantastical animated full feature film Ana and Bruno (Ana y Bruno), which will be screened Thursday, Sept. 14 at 8:30 p.m. at Sag Harbor Cinema at 90 Main Street in Sag Harbor.
In the film, Ana is a peculiar little girl who escapes from a mental institution to search for her father in order to save her mother, embarking on a journey full of thrilling and moving adventures. This film, by Carlos Carrera, has won three awards for Best Animated Feature, including Mexico’s 61st Ariel Awards.
Tickets are $10 and are available at sagharborcinema.org/ola.
On Friday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m., the festival presents The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future (La vaca que cantó una canción hacia el futuro) at the Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill.
Magical realism and environmental activism come together in this Chilean drama about the destruction humans have wrought upon the planet and the hope that remains.
A bilingual museum tour and reception precede the film at 6 p.m., and a live Zoom interview with director Francisca Alegría will follow the film at 8:45 pm. The film will be screened in the indoor theater.
Tickets are $16 for non-members, $10 for members and students with ID and $5 for children under 18, and are available at parrishart.org/programs-events
The festival moves back to Sag Harbor Cinema on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 7 p.m. with the US Premiere of the Salvadoran film The Sense of the Chords (El sentido de las cuerdas). Directed by Marcela Zamora Chamorro, this film tells the story of three resilient and determined adolescent girls who find a way to survive the consequences of violence in the director’s home country through the power of music, perseverance, and hope, giving their lives meaning for the first time.
Tickets are $10 and are available at sagharborcinema.org/ola.
The festival concludes with a family-friendly day, presenting the New York Premiere of the full-length feature Mexican film The Pink Lagoon (La laguna rosada), preceded by the US Premiere of Frida in the Sky (Frida en el cielo), an animated short by director Dani Sadun from Ecuador and Canada.
Both films, which are appropriate for all ages, are in Spanish with English subtitles for all ages.
The screenings will be held on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center at 76 Main Street, Westhampton Beach.
In The Pink Lagoon, Arturo is a superficial and vain young man, and Mariana is a talented, creative girl with Down Syndrome. Everything changes when Mariana seeks Arturo’s help to go to a ballet event in Mérida so she can achieve her dream of dancing. This leads to a journey of reconnection and learning.
Frida in the Sky is the story of an 8-year-old engineering prodigy, Frida, who builds an airplane behind her mother’s back to carry on her grandmother’s legacy.
A Live Q+A will follow with The Pink Lagoon’s director Juan Arce and his sister, the film’s lead actress, Monica Arce.
“OLA treasures the diversity within our community. La laguna rosa (The Pink Lagoon), especially, reminds us that the challenges we face in life can often be beauty wrapped in a different cover,” says Ms. Perez.: OLA’s Latino Film Festival is centered on the artistry of filmmaking and the dialogue that forms in the choice of films presented. This film is central to its theme. A story that speaks to the core of how family is defined and how art, in the form of dance, is a worthy pursuit, it was selected for the highly skilled and nuanced performance of its lead actress, Monica Arce. As a protagonist with Down Syndrome, Arce’s character challenges preconceived notions about what is possible and the power in finding what makes each human being uniquely who they are in the shared experience of life.”
Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center’s executive director, Julienne Penza-Boone, shares in the excitement of collaboration.
“We are so proud to partner with OLA as they celebrate their twentieth Latino Film Festival,” she said. “Our shared values around cultural equity and inclusion make this the perfect film to present together.”
The East End community has grown to include many generations, as well as families who have recently arrived from Central and South America and an array of Spanish-speaking countries, added Ms. Perez. “OLA supports families navigating the needs of those who live with intellectual disabilities and who are differently-abled. Latino families have the basic human right to expect dignity, equal opportunity, and inclusion for their loved ones, with greater access to services within schools and full participation within social settings.
“OLA invites the entire community to enjoy this beautiful film, together. ALL are welcome. This is a film that is not meant to be seen in your living room or on your phone. This is a film meant to be experienced as a community, as a family, and with your children,” she added.
Tickets are $5 and are available at OLAWHBPACFilmFest2023.eventbrite.com.