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The Latino Cinemedia Sidebar

If it weren’t for the Toronto Film Festival, the average American never would’ve heard of Y Tu Mamá También or its talented and eye-pleasing star Gael García Bernal. And if it weren’t for Cannes, it’s hard to imagine Amores Perros ever would’ve been shown in the same theater as Finding Forrester or Kiss the Girls. That’s too bad, because there’s a whole world of engaging stories, noteworthy actors, and well-made films on the other side of the American/Latino cultural border that contemporary American audiences may never see. Some Latino films are now making it to the American mainstream, but they’re still too few and far between.

Luckily for us, though, Film Fest director Roger Durling and UCSB faculty member Cristina Venegas know this — and they’re trying to close the gap. For the second year, Venegas’s Latino Cinemedia sidebar will screen films from Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Cuba, the United States, and other parts of Latin America and Spain, all under the umbrella of the Santa Barbara Film Festival. Offerings run the gamut from the classic 1964 Cuban-Soviet film Soy Cuba alongside Siberian Mammoth, a documentary that charts the film’s history; to a biopic about Cazuza, Brazil’s Jim Morrison. There’s also Un Año sin Amor, an Argentinean film about an HIV-positive member of the Buenos Aires S&M leather scene; Nuestra Familia, an American documentary about Latino gangs in California; the Fellini-esque Uruguayan piece A Dios Momo; a documentary about corrido music, Sinaloa, and border-crossing called Al Otro Lado; and the Argentinean documentary Mbya: Tierra en Rojo, about the Mbya tribe coping with globalization.

For a thought-provoking film, check out La Última Luna (The Last Moon), a film in Arabic and Hebrew with English subtitles about Palestinian immigrants in Chile, and how conflicts in the Middle East play out in South America. Or those seeking lighter fare can view Temporada de Patos (Duck Season), a comedy from Mexico about two adolescents taking advantage of their parents’ absence.

Cinemedia shorts offer bite-size films with big impact, like Australian Aboriginal filmmaker Beck Cole’s 26-minute Lore of Love; and the Youth Cinemedia Program will give glimpses into the future of Latino filmmaking, as well as a window into the current lives of young filmmakers.

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