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Cine Las Americas Brings Films to Austin You Won't See Anywhere Else (Update)

Update: Today Cine Las Americas announced the award winners for the 17th Cine Las Americas International Film Festival. The grand jury awards went to:

  • Best Narrative Feature: MATEO, Dir. María Gamboa, Colombia/France
  • Best Documentary Feature: ROQUE DALTON, ¡FUSILEMOS LA NOCHE! (Roque Dalton, Let's Shoot the Night!), Dir. Tina Leish, Austria/El Salvador/Cuba
  • Best Narrative Short: PADRE (Father), Dir. Santiago 'Bou' Grasso, Argentina/France
  • Best Documentary Short: TRAZOS EN LA CUMBRE (Drawing on the Heights), Dir. Alejandro Victorero, Carlos Alejandro Molina, Venezuela

There's details on other winners and the audience awards on the Cine Las Americas website.

Original Story (April 22, 2014): The 17th Cine Las Americas film festival gets underway today.

The nearly week-long fest focuses on films by or about Latinos, indigenous peoples of the Americas and those from Spain and Portugal. They’re films you probably won’t see making the rounds later on in theaters.

KUT sat down with the festival’s Executive Director – Eugenio del Bosque to learn more.

On Why Cine Las Americas is Needed in the Film Festival World:

"About 95 percent of the films that we show will just never be seen anywhere, not even on video. This doesn’t mean that these films aren’t good, of course. There is an explosion of production in Latin America by Latinos as well as elsewhere in the world. For us, what is important is that we are able to establish a curatorial process, a selection process that lets us bring the best of what we get … And be able to present that on the big screen on professional formats with a filmmaker in attendance. The film festival becomes a vessel for cultural diversity of artistic excellence in cinema. And it’s entertaining, it’s educational and it's fun as well. It’s a cultural event that opens windows to the world."

On How the Festival Has Changed:

"Many, many more [films], of course, from all over Latin America. We also include indigenous films from the Americas, and that is always surprising because there is a lot of material actually, and this includes indigenous peoples in the U.S. as well and in Canada and all the way to Patagonia. So people are doing a lot of work and this obviously has to do with technology. Back in the day when I started 10 years ago, we were dealing in 35 millimeter prints … These days we are all digital … It brings its own set of circumstances and complications to deal with that medium but, at the same time, at the production and distribution level, it’s just cheaper … So people of all ages are really able to go out there and accomplish."

On What People Should Know about Cine Las Americas:

"Cine Las Americas is for everyone. We try to put together something that can be appealing to wider audiences. It’s not a Latino festival for Latinos or an indigenous festival for indigenous groups. It really is something that is worldwide ... And the material that we show, everything is subtitled in English. So of course there are a lot of foreign languages, but if you are interested in learning Spanish, Portuguese and indigenous languages, this is the right place for you. We try to keep an eye on ... That connection between the local and the universal. So cinema is a very good medium for that and we always try to keep that as part our program."

On This Year’s Lineup:

"I think a good measure is, of course, opening and closing night are always hand-picked for being popular and exciting and important as well. We try to have that balance between the commercial and the artistic and education and the cultural, which is not always easy. But I think the opening and closing night films, "Ultima Llamada" – Last Call – from Mexico and "Pelo Malo" from Venezuela – Bad Hair – those films are very representative of that balance that we’re trying to strike. I would recommend that you try to catch anything showing between 6 and 10 p.m.; that’s usually prime time. We try to put the most appealing work there. But at the same time it’s important that people really dig into the program because there are a lot of screening that are during the day or four different venues. We try to screen twice as many films as we can, but it’s not possible."

The Logistics of Attending:

"The idea is that anyone can basically walk in and buy a ticket as if you were going to the movies and attend a film screening. You can do that at any screening at any of the venues that we have. We actually have two venues that are free; we have been doing that for a few a years. And that amounts roughly to about one-third of our program. We really like doing that, and we like to keep it that way.  There are other two venues that are ticketed, so you can buy tickets. You can buy a festival film pass, which gives you preferred entry to all shows, including opening and closing night. It’s really accessible; we really have a lot of screenings, so there really is a lot of room for people to come and enjoy at different times of the day."

On Save Cine Las Americas:

"We are a small non-profit organization. The festival has been going on for 17 years. It’s always a seasonal work ... But the work of a nonprofit doesn’t stop. The size of our nonprofit is now one that we have to establish that continuity to keep the organization running, to keep a healthy operating environment ... We are very privileged to have a lot of support at very different levels from government agencies, individuals, but we need more. So the name Save Cine Las Americas is a little bit extreme; it’s not an exaggeration. We do need to do something to continue operating, and that’s what we decided to do locally. It is a fundraising effort in order for us to operate year round and have a foundation that allows us to be sustainable."

Disclosure: Cine Las Americas is a KUT underwriter.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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