Film festival bolsters new Hispanic arts group

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The new San Francisco Latino Film Festival — featuring 22 films from the U.S., Latin America, Spain and Portugal — also heralds the debut of its parent organization, CineMas, which offers year-round programming in visual, performing and literary arts. The Examiner spoke with CineMas founder Lucho Ramirez, who’s also director of the 10-person volunteer collective.

Why do we need another Hispanic arts organization? I want to go beyond identity politics. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’d like a wider scope, including international films, operating outside the conventional. We’re working with Mission Cultural Center, Galeria de la Raza, as well as La Peña in Berkeley. There are so many communities — it’s socioeconomic in part — that one size doesn’t fit all.

Why a film festival as central, CineMas being a pun on “cinema and more”? CineAccion is dormant now, and the Latino Film Society [aka the S.F. International Latino Film Fest], folded earlier this year. I thought it was wrong, when there is support from the community and sponsorship, to close the film festival down. I thought something like this had to continue and broaden. 

What made “Spoken Word” the choice for opening night? It seemed a “complete” film in the sense of being a product of both U.S. and Latin American Latinos: It has Latino actors, one of the screenwriters is Latino from New Mexico, the director is Peruvian-American and it’s set in the Bay Area and Mexico.

What’s the most controversial film in your lineup? Maybe “Hermaphrodite,” which we’re co-presenting with Frameline, the fictional story of a person born intersex. The film itself is not necessarily shocking, but I think the term as the title — and being set in the rural Dominican Republic — that’s controversial to some. After we mentioned it on a radio program recently, callers left the host some hostile voice mail.

What documentary in the festival was the most revelatory for you? “Forgotten Injustice,” about Mexicans [including legal immigrants] and Mexican-Americans that were deported in the ’30s — xenophobia and scapegoating in the Great Depression.
 

IF YOU GO

San Francisco Latino Film Festival

Where: Clay Theatre, 2261 Fillmore St.; Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission St.; Lumiere Theatre, 1572 California St.; all in San Francisco 
When: Today though Nov. 25
Tickets: $8 to $10
Contact: (415) 826-7057, www.sflatinofilmfestival.com

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