Tuesday, April 23, 2024

MSU Latinx Film Festival set to highlight important topics, celebrate culture

February 10, 2024
Photo by Zachary Balcoff | The State News

Movie watching is beloved by people from all around the world. With movies being played on cable, in theaters or on streaming devices, it's much easier to access movies than ever before. However, some movies aren't fully accessible to the American public, leaving impactful movies unseen by many. 

This has been a problem in the Latinx community, as many movies and documentaries highlighting different issues surrounding their communities have gone unseen by most of the general public. However, with the return of MSU's Latinx Film Festival, founder and director Scott Boehm and his team hope to bring a collection of Latinx films to East Lansing to provide a wide variety of perspectives while bringing together a community. 

People can expect a diverse, wide variety of independent films from ten different countries, Boehm said. 

"These films we're showing on the big screens, you can't see anywhere else in the whole state of Michigan," Boehm said. "It's unique. It's the biggest festival of its type in the state, and I do think that's important to highlight and celebrate.”

The Latinx Film Festival began in 2018 with the goal to celebrate and promote independent Latinx cinema to Michigan State and the mid-Michigan region.

The festival is set to bring many topics to the table, like gun violence and immigration, while also bringing the cultures of different countries to the theater seats of MSU and East Lansing. Boehm also believes this festival can allow different audiences to see what race, gender and class look like in different Latin American countries. 

With 13 films in total and one theatrical play, there are many options for audiences to choose from.

The lone play, titled "GUAC, The One-Man Show," is an exclusive theatrical performance about gun violence. It will feature Venezuelan native Manny Oliver, who lost his son, Joaquin Oliver, in the 2018 Parkland highschool shooting. 

Boehm believes that given the mass shooting at MSU in February of last year, he and his team had to address and focus on the issue of gun violence. 

"We can't hold the festival in the middle of February and not deal with this issue," Boehm said. "We have to address it somehow by using the platform that we have, and I believe that having this film helps."

Manny Oliver and his wife Patricia Oliver will hold a panel to discuss details about their lawsuit against the U.S. government for "violating human rights law by failing to protect people's right to live free from gunfire and causing Joaquin's death in the Parkland high school gun massacre," according to the festival's webpage. The panel will be on Feb. 16 from 12:30 - 1:45 p.m. in the MSU Library Green Room, and it is free and open to the public. 

Another way Boehm and his team are addressing this issue is by having Marco Díaz-Muñoz present a Costa Rican movie at the festival. Díaz-Muñoz, who himself is Costa Rican, is the professor who was teaching in the Berkey Hall classroom where the MSU shooting began. 

The film festival kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 6 p.m. with an opening reception located in Wells Hall room B106. This reception kicks off the four-day event, as on Thursday and Friday, six films will be screened on campus, and on Saturday and Sunday, seven films will be screened off campus. 

Along with the screening of multiple films, there are other activities for the community to enjoy, like LxFF 2024 Kick-Off, a meet and greet and a concert and party. More details on these events and more can be found on the Latinx Film Festival website

Graduate student and film presenter María Bonete Escoto said she is excited to see the community and looks forward to many of the movies that will be screened.

"I am very excited about getting together with other people in the community and talking about all these movies," Bonete Escoto said. "In a way, after the pandemic, the togetherness of watching a movie was taken away, so now I'm honestly kind of excited about going to the cinema or sitting down in a theater and watching a movie with other people."

Bonete Escoto is a film presenter for the film festival. She, and many others like Díaz-Muñoz, will introduce the movie to the audience. When the movie concludes, the film presenters will briefly discuss the movies, allowing audiences to ask questions and be able to fully understand the themes and subjects of the film. This is a way the film festival really hopes to engage with the public, Bonete Escoto said. 

Bonete Escoto is excited to see many films herself and hopes audiences can make it to as many films as possible. Bonete Escoto will be presenting "This Stolen Country of Mine."

The Latinx Film Festival schedule is listed below.

Thursday, Feb. 15: "This Stolen Country of Mine"

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This 2022 documentary focuses on Ecuador's deals with China, which gave China control over mining, oil and infrastructure. This story of economic imperialism follows activists like Paúl Jarrín Mosquera and Fernando Villavicencio as they attempt to battle for freedom.

This screening will take place in Wells Hall, room B122, at 7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 15: "Memories of My Father"

Scholared father, Héctor Abad Faciolince, is a social rights activist fighting against oppression in Colombia and looking to better public health programs. This 2020 drama — based on the true story written by Abad Faciolince's son — travels between two eras to tell the story of Abad Faciolince and his work. 

This screening will take place in Wells Hall, room B119, at 7 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 16: "Oscar Arias: Without a Shot Fired"

When Costa Rica made peace with the world in 1949 by being the first country to abolish its military, it sent waves throughout the nation. Years later, Costa Rican president Oscar Arias persuaded Central American countries to also put down their weapons. This 2017 short film documentary follows Arias and his plan for peace.

This screening will take place in the MSU Library Green Room at 2 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 16: "Wings of Dust"

This short, 30-minute documentary follows Peruvian journalist Vidal Merma and his ambition to shine a light on the negative effects of extractive mining activity in Peru. The film tells the story of a man trying to protect his family and his country in hopes of clean drinking water.

This screening will take place in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at 5 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 16: "Carajita"

A young girl named Sarah and her nanny, Yarisa, have created a mother-daughter relationship. However, an untimely accident forces Sarah and Yarisa to test their loyalty and relationship. This 2021 psychological drama tells the story of a relationship that exists between race, class and family.

This screening will take place in the RCAH Theater at 6:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 16: "A Bruddah's Mind"

This 2020 drama tells the story of a young Brazilian boy named Saulo, who lives in a predominantly white city in Brazil. After experiencing a racial insult from a classmate, his school attempts to expel him for his reaction. The story follows Saulo's response as he exposes the school's poor conditions.

This screening will take place in the RCAH Theater at 8:30 p.m.   

Saturday, Feb. 17: "The Sacred Spirit"

This 2021 dark comedy features a story about a UFO association and its leader. When that leader unexpectedly dies, the "Cosmic Pharaoh" becomes society's only hope as he holds the secret that can save humanity.

This screening will take place in The Robin Theatre at 11 a.m.

Saturday, Feb. 17: "Home Is Somewhere Else"

This animated documentary provides a window into the hearts and minds of immigrant youth and their undocumented families. This story is told by immigrants' voices and explores how they live in uncertainty of the future.

This screening will take place in The Robin Theatre at 3 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 17: "Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse"

This sequel to "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is about Spider-Man, or Miles Morales, and his encounters with Spider-People charged with protecting the multiverse. 

This screening will take place in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at 3 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 17: "Miguelito, a song to Puerto Rico"

An eleven-year-old boy by the name of Miguelito was discovered singing in the San Juan airport by the legendary New York record producer Harvey Averne back in 1973. Within a year, Miguelito was singing with some of the greatest-known salsa musicians, but then he disappeared. This documentary aims to find out what happened to the lost musician.

This screening will take place in The Robin Theatre at 5 p.m.   

Saturday, Feb 17: "GUAC, The One-Man Show"

Manny Oliver, the father of Parkland shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, takes the stage in a theatrical stage play to tell the story of his American dream, which turned into an American nightmare. This play follows Manny’s philosophy of life and his undying love for his son while activating to stop gun violence. 

This screening will take place in Stage One at Sycamore Creek Eastwood at 7:30 p.m.   

Sunday, Feb. 18: "The Bone Woman"

This 2023 Mexican chiller tells the story of a young pregnant woman, Valeria, who has always longed to be a mother. Yet, while going through her pregnancy, sinister figures appear in her world and haunt her life.

This screening will take place in the Celebration Cinema at 1 p.m.   

Sunday, Feb. 18: "The Monroy Affair"

This 2022 film follows the story of 65-year-old public employee Ronnie Monroy. Monroy, who’s had a meaningless life, finds a new purpose in life by helping inmates at a women's prison. Though his ambitions seem to be driven by generosity and affection, they are not so benevolent. 

This screening will take place in the Celebration Cinema at 3:30 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 18: "Himno"

This music documentary tells the story of the song "The People United Will Never Be Defeated!," which was first composed 50 years ago in Chile. This musical trip shows how this song has been recognized and interpreted in different parts of the world.

This screening will take place in the Celebration Cinema at 6 p.m.   

The festival comes to an end on Sunday, Feb. 18, with the Closing Reception, which will be held at 8 p.m. at the Celebration Cinema in Lansing. 

While most films and special events are free to the general public, there is a fee for "GUAC: The One-Man Show," the concert and party, and the film screenings at the Celebration Cinema. More details about the ticket prices can be seen on the Latinx Film Festival website.

Bonete Escoto and Boehm believe this festival serves as a "bridge" between the university and the surrounding community, specifically the Latino/Latina/x community. 

"People from Latin America, they've immigrated here, and given that Michigan isn't the most diverse place in terms of culture and language, it doesn't mean that there aren't people from everywhere who are here," Boehm said. "So for at least for a short period of time, you know, this festival allows it to feel a little bit more like being at home."

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