“Yuli,” the story of Carlos Acosta, a black Cuban dancer for the Royal Ballet, opens the San Francisco Latino Film Festival on Sept. 20. (Courtesy photo)

Diverse lineup in 11th SF Latino film fest

Features, docs, shorts from three continents on roster

Featuring cinema from three continents in an atmosphere of community, the 11th San Francisco Latino Film Festival opens Friday, with more than 90 films — everything from artist portraits to environmental documentaries to horror shorts — on the bill.

Fourteen narrative features, 12 documentaries and dozens of short films from the U.S., Latin America and Spain screen at the 10-day festival, presented by Cine+Mas SF. Primary venues are the Alamo Drafthouse, Opera Plaza Cinema and Roxie Theater. Many featured filmmakers will attend.

Both culture-specific and universal, this year’s themes include the environment, immigration and deportation and LGBT experiences. Some films on the lineup are just plain fun.

Latinos are underrepresented in mainstream U.S. cinema, and co-director Lucho Ramirez describes the festival as an opportunity for local audiences to view films they might not otherwise be able to see. It also — importantly, in current times — brings communities together “to see images that are both culturally affirming and of artistic merit,” he says.

“Yuli” is the official opening feature. Directed by Catalan filmmaker Iciar Bollain, the Goya-nominated biodrama portrays Havana-born Carlos Acosta, who became the first black principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, in London, among other achievements.

Also on the narrative slate is “Jose,” a drama about a young man in conservative Guatemala who experiences passion with a construction worker. The film received the Venice Film Festival’s Queer Lion Award.

In “Divine Love,” a dystopian drama about marriage, faith and Brazil, a religious woman who uses her notary position to help couples avoid divorce experiences her own marital challenges.

A secretary stuck in a dull life connects meaningfully with a klutzy but well-meaning repairman in the Colombian comedy “Amalia the Secretaria.”

Documentary highlights include “Decade of Fire,” which examines the fires that displaced nearly half a million people, many of them in black and Puerto Rican communities, in the South Bronx in the 1970s, and reveals how government policies led to the tragedy.

“Carlos Almaraz: Playing With Fire” profiles the Los Angeles artist known for his “Echo Park” paintings and for his role in putting Chicano art on the art establishment’s radar.

“Sea of Shadows” focuses on a rescue team whose members risk their lives to stop criminals poaching of totoaba fish in the Sea of Cortez and threatening nearly all marine life in the area.

“The Infiltrators” features some undocumented young people who intentionally get detained by the Border Patrol in order to help others fight deportation.

Additional documentary titles include “Amigo Skate, Cuba,” “Our Quinceanera” and “Santa Lives in My Town.”

Short-film programs include “Working Women Shorts,” “Love Bites Shorts,” “Political Shorts” and “Que Scary Horror Shorts.”

IF YOU GO

San Francisco Latino Film Festival

Where: Most screenings at the Roxie, Opera Plaza in San Francisco

When: Sept. 20-29

Tickets: $12-$14 most screenings; $15-$25 special events

Contact: (415) 754-9580, www.sflatinofilmfestival.com

SELECT HIGHLIGHTS

Yuli: 7 p.m. Sept 20 at Roxie; 6:15 p.m. Sept. 28 at Opera Plaza

Jose: 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at Roxie; 8:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at Opera Plaza

Carlos Almaraz-Playing With Fire: 4:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at Roxie; 2:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at Opera Plaza

The Infiltrators: 7 p.m. Sept. 21 at Alamo Drafthouse

Sea of Shadows: 4 p.m. Sept. 22 at Alamo Drafthouse

Divine Love: 6:45 p.m. Sept. 23 at Roxie; 8:30 p.m. Sept. 28 at Opera Plaza

Decade of Fire: 6:45 p.m. Sept. 25 at Roxie

Amalia the Secretaria: 7:30 p.m. Sept. 26 and 4:30 p.m. Sept. 29 at Opera Plaza

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