New York Latino Film Festival: Latino Resistance on the Big Screen
With the first purely Latino drive-in and 75 films from a dozen countries in both virtual and on-site formats, the 21st edition of NYLFF will be turning on the heat next week. Action!
While most festivals have been canceled or adjusted to the "new normal" by creating purely virtual formats, the great event that is New York's Latino Film Festival has decided to continue providing Hispanic and non-Hispanic moviegoers with its annual dose of cinema with roots "inspired by the resistance of the Latino community," according to its founder, Calixto Chinchilla.
"We are proud to serve as an important platform for Latino filmmakers to share culturally relevant stories about intersectionality, diversity and life experiences in this country," he added.
This has not been easy and has forced the organization to use creativity to ensure that the 21st edition, which begins this Monday and runs through Sept. 20, continues to be a unique event despite the security measures that must be taken during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among these inventive displays is the first entirely Latino drive-in movie experience, which will take place in both New York and the Bronx, and recalls the experience of old drive-ins and re-imagines it for times requiring care and distance, thanks in part to the support provided by the city's mayor's office in a city where more than 2.5 million Latinos reside.
But this edition still has more surprises in store for us among the nearly 75 films representing more than 10 countries. Some features are highly-anticipated.
Like that of Charm City Kings, by Puerto Rican director Angel Manuel Soto, which, after winning hearts at Sundance where it won the Jury Prize, opens in New York. The film, which is inspired by the documentary 12 O'Clocks Boys, tells the story of a teenager who joins a motorcycle gang to raise money.
Critical Thinking, directed and starring John Leguizamo and with a script by Dito Montiel, will also be released. It's an inspiring film that tells the true story of five Black and Latino teenagers from Miami Jackson Senior High School who fight to win the National Chess Championship following the advice of a rather atypical teacher.
The 15th edition of the HBO series Habla Now, by director and creator Alberto Ferreras, will serve as the festival's opening, offering personal stories from well-known Latino celebrities such as Dominican singer, actress and activist Amara La Negra, Mexican-American environmental activist Xiuhtezcatl Martínez, Puerto Rican sportswoman Laurie Hernández and Colombian actress Diane Guerrero, among others.
Lovers of false documentaries can also not miss the appointment with the funny and at times delirious mockumentary written and directed by Geo Santini. La Mala educación de Lil Tito follows the rapid rise and disappearance of Benito Cruz, a social media troll whose prison sentence has given him so many followers that he switches from 'clickbait' to rap.
You can access the full program on the NYLFF festival site.