By Kyle Wells
Monday Magazine contributor
When the Latin American and Spanish Film Week screened its first films 10 years ago at Cinecenta, the intent was simply to draw attention to the Latin American-focused courses on offer at the University of Victoria.
A decade later, the hope is still to promote classes, but the festival has become a focal point in its own right, bringing together both students and community members who have a connection with and/or a love for Latin American and Spanish culture.
Now organized by the Hispanic Film Society of Victoria, this week of film offers documentary and narrative movies from throughout Latin America and beyond that audiences here would not normally have the opportunity to see. This year’s festival, running Sept. 17-22, features works from Mexico, Paraguay, Argentina, Peru and Spain.
|Two screenings of Megalodemocrat (7 and 9 p.m.), a documentary featuring the work of Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, kicks off the festival Sept. 17 at Cinecenta. Lozano-Hemmer is one of the most recognized creators in the world of highly inventive and technically challenging visual arts. YouTube
“It’s amazing how time flies,” said Dan Russek, society president and UVic professor. “We try to cover a lot of ground and bring movies to Victoria that might not come if not for us.”
Two special events are also being held this year to celebrate the festival’s big milestone. On Thursday, Sept. 19 a screening of the documentary A Journey to the Fumigated Towns, from veteran Argentinian filmmaker Fernando E. Solanas, will be followed by a conversation and Q&A on agroindustry and sustainable food production. The discussion panel includes B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, Saanich Coun. Nathalie Chambers and Prof. Jeremy L. Caradonna, who teaches Environment Studies at UVic.
“This [movie] is about political and social commitment and denouncing social injustice … and what’s happening in Argentina can be extrapolated to places around the world,” Russek said. “So I hope people stay and listen and ask questions and think about these issues that affect us all.”
On Friday, Sept. 20, after a screening of Indestructible: The Soul of Salsa, everyone is invited to Vertigo, also in the Student Union Building, to show off their own salsa skills. The 10th anniversary party features live music from pianist Pablo Cárdenas and the West Coast Cuban All Stars. Snacks will be provided and drinks will be available for purchase. All are welcome to join in and tickets will be sold separately the night of the event.
For a full list of films and more information on the festival, visit hispfilmvic.ca.