Cine Las Americas Announces Full Lineup
A local institution with an international reach, Cine Las Americas may be embarking on its seventeenth run, but don’t think anybody’s on autopilot. It’s been a race to the finish to put together this year's slate.
“The struggle is always for us is to have a bigger team and more time,” says Executive Director Eugenio del Bosque Gómez. “Earlier this year we launched a campaign called Save Cine las Americas. What we’re trying to raise money in order to operate year-round.” Currently, Gómez is the only full-time employee; part-time staff and volunteers fill out the office, but disappear during the summer months. “We have to go do other things to make a living.”
With the fest less than two weeks away from the starter shot, Cine Las Americas announced today the full lineup, boasting another strong mix of narrative and documentary features and shorts culled from as far as Portugal and Peru and as near as “Hecho en Tejas,” a sidebar of 14 films either produced by Texans or shot here.
In a nod to the uphill battle of trying to attract new audiences to “challenging material that’s not even in English,” Gómez says they sought with this year’s slate to strike “a balance between artistic expressions – art films, if you would – and something that can be a little bit more on the commercial side. Without making the commitment to show a bunch of movies that probably don’t belong in the festival – silly comedies that could find distribution anyway – without going there, we’ve been able to program a good contingent of films that are probably more appealing to the general public than the art films and documentaries we usually program.” He cited opening night film Tercera llamada as a well-crafted comedy with wide audience appeal.
Other highlights of this year’s fest: Gómez notes family-friendly films, free showcases (“almost one-third of our programming is completely free”), and an uptick in submissions either made by women filmmakers or starring strong female leads, pointing to closing night film Pelo Malo by Mariana Rondón.
This year the festival will honor San Antonio filmmaker Efraín Gutiérrez, whose short run of 1970s microindies are considered the first-ever Chicano films. The UCLA Film and Television Archive recently restored his work, which will be shown as a retrospective and with Gutiérrez in attendance.
“Back in the mid Seventies he did three Chicano films,” Gómez explains. “Then he in 1980 he completely dropped out and disappeared.”
“His films are pretty rough. It’s pretty radical, this approach to Chicano culture. He was shooting, writing, acting, collaborating, distributing it himself; he toured with his canister showing from theatre to theatre. By the time he made his last one, Run, Tecato, Run!, in 1979, he just got tired. He married a woman and he went to live in Laredo for 20 or 25 years, never even told his kids that he had made these films.
“There were myths that he had passed away, that he had been incarcerated, but he was just living in Laredo.”
The 17th annual Cine Las Americas International Film Festival runs Tuesday April 22, Sunday, April 27. See www.cinelasamericas.org for full lineup and ticket information.