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  • 08 Oct 2021 10:00 AM | JoAnn Cox (Administrator)

    The Boston Palestine Film Festival (BPFF) will be held in a hybrid format this year for its 15th annual presentation.  



    BPFF 2021 features 26 films, opening with 200 METERS, the directorial feature debut film from Palestinian director Ameen Nayfeh. The closing film is GAZA MON AMOUR, the latest narrative offering by Palestinian brothers Arab and Tarzan Nassar, and will only be available via a one time live screening. The festival will also include a wide selection of feature and short films including AS I WANT by Samaher Alqadi, and the latest narrative short by director Darine Hotait, TALLAHASSEE, which features Palestinian favorites Cherien Dabis, Hala Alyan, and the acting debut of Samia Halaby.

    All films with the exception of GAZA MON AMOUR will be available to view online continuously from October 8–17 via www.bostonpalestinefilmfest.org. Geographical viewing restrictions apply. Tickets range from free to $15, and are available through the website. 3 Film Pass and Full Festival Pass options are also available. BPFF 2021 includes the World premiere of ANGEL OF GAZA by Ahmed Mansour, 3 North American premieres, and 6 US premieres.

    WIFVNE co-presents AS I WANT
    US Premiere
    WIFVNE Members receive a discount on tickets

    Directed by Samaher Alqadi

    Documentary, 88 mins
    Language: English, Arabic
    Watch the trailer here. 

     

    Cairo, January 25, 2013: An explosion of sexual assaults takes place in Tahrir Square on the second anniversary of the revolution. In response, a massive outpouring of enraged women fill the streets. Director Samaher Alqadi picks up her camera as a form of protection and begins documenting the growing women's rebellion, not knowing where the story will lead her.

    When Samaher becomes pregnant during filming, she starts to re-examine the constructs of her own childhood in Palestine and what it means to be a woman and a mother in the Middle East. She begins an imaginary conversation with her mother, who died before Samaher could see her one last time. She begins to form the words left unsaid and shares her deepest secrets in an intimate inner voice that guides us through the story. She goes on a traumatic visit back to her parent’s house in Ramallah, where she is confronted with the dark memories of a childhood she managed to escape.

    Meanwhile, the struggle in Egypt continues and, even after the birth of her son, Samaher still finds herself on the frontline.

  • 23 Jul 2021 1:26 PM | Grace Guerin

    The New Hampshire Film Festival, a festival that Women in Film and Video New England has now partnered with for several years, has recently been named a qualifier for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Short Film Awards along with other notable festivals including the Cannes Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.


    The New Hampshire Film Festival has shown "nearly 1,300 shorts" since its founding in 2001 and co-founder Dan Hannon states the "qualification further enhances our mutual endeavor to support the short film medium."

    Short films shown at NHFF that receive the Live Action or Animation Shorts Jury Award will qualify for consideration in the Live Action Short Film and Animation Short Film categories of the 94th Academy Awards. 

    The New Hampshire Film festival is proud of its qualification and imminent representation of New England's finest film makers. The complete list of qualifying festivals can be found here.


  • 15 Jul 2021 1:31 PM | Grace Guerin

    The Bridgeport Film Festival will take place July 23rd through July 25th in Bridgeport, Connecticut, with virtual and in person events.  2021 is its inaugural year, and the non-profit initiative organizing the festival aims to make ”philanthropy through film”. The festival focuses on showcasing diversity and intersectionality and at least 50% of the films screening this year are films by women and black, brown, and indigenous filmmakers. 

    Several themed screenings in the programming include “The Future Is Female” (July 24th @ 5pm), “Black Stories Matter” (July 24th @ 6:45), and “You Are Who You Are” (July 24th @ 8:45).  Each category features 6-7 films focusing on that topic.

    “The Future Is Female” category will highlight six films that discuss “resilience, intersectionality, believing women, and more”. First Kiss, a short film by Carline Patz, shares the humorous story of a girl’s crush on a boy. The lightheartedness of First Kiss is contrasted later in the evening by Soyka, a piece focusing on the experience of immigrating to the United States by Anastasiya Sergienya follows a young woman from Belarus as she tries to find a life for herself in New York City.


    First Kiss

            First Kiss

    “Black Stories Matter” features seven films centered around the “black experience in the United States” with films like Finding Elijah (dir. Yolonda Johnson-Young), and Peace (dir. Adomako Aman). Finding Elijah is told through a mother’s perspective as her son faces the disadvantages of mental illness through homelessness. Peace tells a short story of what it means to be at peace in a queer relationship.



    Finding Elijah

    “You Are Who You Are: Queer Stories” is just that, seven films highlighting the “profound, compelling, and dynamic narratives”  of LGBTQ+ storytellers. To You My Love, a short by Olivia Gastaldo, shows the audience the visual experience of reading a love letter. The category will also include longer pieces like Break In (dir. Alyssa Lerner), a story that follows a woman as she and her friend venture out to delete an accidental text sent to her crush.


    Break In

    Tickets to these enthralling screenings as well as many more narratives, documentaries, and short films, are available on the Bridgeport Film Fest website.  WIFVNE members receive discounts on tickets.


  • 30 Jun 2021 2:44 PM | Grace Guerin

    The Woods Hole Film Festival (WHFF) is a non-profit annual festival held on Cape Cod, Massachusetts -- this summer, in its 30th iteration, WHFF is showing films in person and virtually from July 31st through August 7th. This festival aims to showcase independent films while simultaneously building relationships with fellow filmmakers and organizations. WHFF seeks to provide opportunity and platform to all kinds of film makers all over the world; this year half of their films have been made by women including drama and comedy shorts, narrative features, and documentaries. 

    WIFVNE Board Member Thato Mwosa has a film showing at this year’s festival. Thato is a filmmaker, writer, illustrator, and educator who focuses her works on identity, race, class, and immigration. Her first narrative feature film, Memoirs of a Black Girl, follows a young girl named Aisha Johnson as she navigates the ups and downs of life as a high schooler in Roxbury, including being considered for a prestigious scholarship. Aisha must “learn to survive, navigate life at school and on the unforgiving streets of Roxbury while keeping her eyes on the prize.”


    Other notable films made by women being shown this year are Drought, directed by Hannah Black and Megan Peterson, a story about a boy with autism and a fascination with weather; Monkey Beach, a tale of the supernatural and the sea directed by Loretta Sarah Todd; and Cecilia Aronado’s film Landfall, about post-hurricane Puerto Rico, and many more. 

    Woods Hole has successfully broadened the horizons of hundreds of filmmakers and has recently launched a program aimed to intertwine the work of film and science called the Film & Science Initiative. Two science-based films and programs supported by the initiative include Beth Murphy’s Our Future, Our Fight: Wildfires. Wildfires is the pilot episode in a docu-series focusing on young individuals fighting for the awareness of climate change. In this first episode, the main focus is how the indigenous practice of controlled, cultural burns can help the environment.

    Another featured film under the Film & Science Initiative is directed by Josh Seftel.  Bruce+Alvin is a documentary short that follows the endeavors of the longest running deep sea submarine in the world. Being the only submarine in the United States that can carry humans to “extreme ocean depths”, this film presents the sub’s most experienced pilot, Bruce Strickrott, as he takes it on its last deep sea mission.

    WHFF is also hosting a panel discussion led by Alecia Orsini , the President of WIFVNE, and Christine Merser, a corporate member of WIFVNE. Titled "Creating A Marketing Strategy for Independent Film," this session focuses on one of the hardest parts of post production: distribution and marketing. The event takes place virtually on August 4th, 2021 at 1pm EST. The event is available via the Woods Hole website.

    WIFVNE members receive a 20% discount on passes or a $2 discount off individual tickets to the 30th Woods Hole Film Festival. See your WIFVNE Members Only email for details. Visit their website to see all 153 films in this year’s program. 

    WIFVNE Board President Alecia Orsini serves on the Board of Directors for the Woods Hole Film Festival and one of the 2020-21 programming fellows is WIFVNE Board Member Emily Abi-Kheirs. 
  • 19 Mar 2021 1:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Paige Storti

    WIFVNE is a proud event sponsor of the 2021 Salem Film Festival! The Salem Film Festival will have virtual screenings of films from March 19th-28th, 2021. 

    Since 2007, Salem Film Fest (SFF) has brought the world's best independent documentaries and their makers to Boston's North Shore. Now the largest international documentary film festival in Massachusetts, the event annually presents more than 80 features and shorts to a loyal audience of thousands. The festival is run largely by volunteers through a non-profit entity, Salem Community Arts Center, Inc.

    SFF 2021 will be screening a wide variety of films this year including GLITTER AND DUST, about four young girls navigating the American Rodeo circuit, and THE LETTER, about a 94-year-old Kenyan woman learning how to overcome accusations of witchcraft by her own family. Click here to see the full 2021 catalog: Catalog | Salem Film Fest 2021

    WIFVNE is also excited to announce two of our Board members will be moderating events. Emily Abi-Kheirs is moderating two Shorts Program Q&As for the films Derby DERBY SHORTS Q&A and Lafayette LAFAYETTE SHORTS Q&A. Derby is a story about tourists enjoying their travels in Myanmar’s hotel complexes while, unknowingly and at the same time, 10 kilometers away members of the Rohingya ethnic group are being tortured and killed. Lafayette takes a look inside a soccer referee’s pressures, fears, and doubts surrounding his job and what comes with it. Along with Emily, our Board member Ingrid Stobbe is moderating “From Idea to Screen,” a live panel discussion on 3/27, with Co-Director of Glitter and Dust Anna Koch, Director of La Madrina Raquel Cepeda, and Director of The Jump Giedrė Žickytė. Look for the dates and times of these panels and stay tuned for program updates.

    WIFVNE members receive a discount on our SFF Frequent Streamer passes normally priced at $90 for 10 films and $45 for 5 films. WIFVNE members can save an additional $10 off of 10 films or $5 off 5 films. See your Members Only email for details. The promotion is good until March 18 at 11:59pm. Click here to get your pass: Salem Film Fest.

  • 09 Mar 2021 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Madison Moses


    On Wednesday, March 10th, showcase attendees can view festival award winning films and meet the filmmakers during this year’s virtual Iranian Women Filmmakers Showcase. The showcase and the Meet the Filmmakers event are free but registration is required. Click here for registration: https://www.goelevent.com/WoodsHoleFilmFest/e/IranianFilmmakersShowcase

    Hosted by Women in Film and Video New England, in partnership with Women in Film and Television International, and That Child Got Talent Entertainment, and supported by Woods Hole Film Festival, the Iranian Women Filmmakers Showcase will feature nine short films from Iranian women for viewing on demand from March 10th to March 12th. On March 11th, from 12:00 pm - 3:00 pm EST, attendees will be able to connect with the filmmakers as well as speak with other cinephiles immersive experience on Remo

    Emerson alum Sonia Hadad, whose film "Exam" won the Grand Jury Prize of the AFI fest, curated the shorts program. The films -- dramas, documentaries, and animations -- embrace the different aspects of the Iranian experience for an international audience. The Showcase intentionally takes place during International Women’s Week and participates in the effort to #ChooseToChallenge by seeking out, sharing, and celebrating women's achievements through spotlighting these female directors.

    “Women in Film and Video of New England is excited to host our sister filmmakers from Iran and take time to enjoy and celebrate their work especially during women’s history month. We are a global community and the stories of our colleagues around the world are as important as the ones happening in our backyard," said Alecia Orsini, President of WIFVNE.

    “That Child Got Talent Entertainment is so very honored to work with the all-women lead organizations-- WIFVNE & WIFTI-- to bring together a collection of short films produced, written, and directed by our sisters in film in Iran. Many thanks for the unwavering curation by Sonia Hadad. We are delighted to sponsor this event and look forward to many more to come. Blessings for another year of Women in Film!” added That Child Got Talent Entertainment founder, Nerissa Williams Scott.



    EIGHT FILMS FEATURED IN THE SHOWCASE

    Films featured in the event are as follows: 


    The Exam 

    The oscar-nominated film shadows a young Iranian woman who sets out on a mission to transport a brown package, at the request of her father. The anxiety-filled thriller unfolds in fifteen minutes, forcing the audience to question what may occur in each passing moment.

    Directed by: Sonia Hadid



     

    The Fried Fish

    The fish is yearning to see the sea once again. He asks a cat, a mouse, a dog, and a crow for help, one after another. They each eat a part of his flesh and carry him some distance down the path to the sea. But after a while, one by one, they put him down and leave. At the end, some ants throw the fish’s skeleton into the sea. The fish happily swims away in the deep blue sea.

    Directed by: Leila Kahlilzadeh



     Song Sparrow 

    This puppet short follows a group of refugees attempting to cross the border. As smugglers transport them in a fridge truck, the exposure to freezing cold temperatures may dim their hopes and chances for a better life. 

    Director: Farzaneh Omidvarnia



     

     Marziyeh

    Protagonist Marziyeh has always struggled with her religious and strict upbringing. Now as a young married woman she’s navigating the world on her own terms, learning to lean into her newfound sense of self and identity.

    Directed by: Dornaz Hajiha



    Limbo

    An Iraqi sniper chooses to document some of his past killings by tattooing the names of the soldiers on his body. The final tattoo, given by a young Iranian, may astonish viewers. 

    Directed by: Ghasideh Gholmakani



     

    Bitter Sea

    A mother overcomes adversity to protect and provide for her daughter. Their journey brings them to a London river, or a bitter sea, that they gaze upon in the final scene of the film. 

    Directed by:Fateme Ahmadi




    Revolutionary Memories of Bahman Who Loved Leila 

    Complex family drama and history intermesh in the 15min documentary, which takes place in 1978 in Iran. 

    Directed by: Farahnaz Sharifi 




    Gaze

    On her way back from work a woman witnesses something happening in the bus and she has to decide if she reveals it or not.

    Directed by:Farnoosh Samadi



    Final Encore

    Every day on the streets of Tehran, a house in being demolished, a house that one day was designed based on our architecture principals , aesthetics and our needs. Artists have gathered in one of those old houses and created works to pay a last tribute to it as a representative of historical houses of the city of Tehran.

    Directed by Farnez Jurabchian and Mohammadrez Jurabchian 

  • 23 Feb 2021 11:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Paige Storti


    With a great start this past Sunday, WIFVNE in partnership with the Walnut Street Synagogue and the Boston Latino International Film festival is excited to continue the Tikkun Olam-Sanar el Mundo film series and roundtable virtual event this Sunday, February 28th with the second installment of the series!

    This film series focuses on and celebrates how an act of healing, no matter how small, contributes to Tikkun Olam-Sanar el Mundo - healing and repairing the world.

    On Sunday, February 28th at 3:30pm will be the screening of Decade of Fire. This film follows the plight of Black and Puerto Rican residents of the South Bronx who were blamed for the devastation of their neighborhood caused by fires in the 1970s, despite their daily battles to save their neighborhoods. The film uncovers the truth along with policies of racism and neglect that still shape our cities. 

    Following the screening, there will be a conversation with moderator Sabrina Aviles, Festival Director of the Boston Latino International Film Festival and a producing partner for the series; filmmakers Vivian Vazquez and Neyda Martinez as well as special guests Roseann Bongiovanni and Maria Belen from GreenRoots Chelsea. 

    An educator and facilitator,Vivian Irizarry ran educational and youth leadership development programs at the Coro Foundation, Bronxworks, and is currently the director of community-school partnerships at the New Settlement Community Campus. Vázquez Irizarry managed educational youth development models in GED completion and college access programs across New York City. A former member of the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, she is a member of 52 People for Progress, a community organization that saved her childhood playground and revitalized the South Bronx for the last 35 years.

    Gretchen Hildebran is a documentary filmmaker and editor whose work lives at the intersection of politics, policy and human experience. Credits include: WORTH SAVING (2004), which was presented in HBO’s Frame by Frame showcase; OUT IN THE HEARTLAND (2005) which explored anti-gay legislation in Kentucky. A 2005 graduate of Stanford’s documentary program, Gretchen shot Ramona Diaz’s THE LEARNING (2011) and has edited for the History Channel, PBS and the United Nations Development Programme, as well as on independent documentaries. Gretchen has also made a series of short documentaries used to educate communities across the country about life-saving interventions such as needle exchange and overdose prevention.

    Nick Rocco Scalia from Film Threat said “The well-paced, tightly constructed, often crushingly emotional documentary is stirring and compelling throughout, illuminating both a dark chapter of New York City history and an all-too-common example of the extent to which inner-city people can be unjustly victimized by those in power.”

    Don’t miss out on seeing Decade of Fire and the panel conversation on Sunday, February 28, 2021. The films and discussions will also be offered in English and Spanish. Visit walnutstreetsynagogue.com/film-series for complete details and ticket information.   

    The Tikkun Olum-Sanar el Mundo film series is conducted in partnership with The Walnut Street Synagogue, WIFVNE, and the Boston Latino International Film Festival. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Chelsea Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.
  • 19 Feb 2021 2:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Paige Storti


    Join us this Sunday, February 21st for the first installment of the “Tikkun Olam-Sanar el Mundo” film series and roundtable virtual event. 

    This film series focuses on and celebrates how an act of healing, no matter how small, contributes to Tikkun Olam/Sanar el Mundo - healing and repairing the world.

    On Sunday, February 21, 2021 at 3:30pm is the screening of The Longing: The Forgotten Jews of South America. This film tells the story of a small group of South Americans, whose ancestors were European Jews forced to convert during the Spanish Inquisition. They long to affirm their faith while isolated in Catholic countries. Despite being rejected by local Jewish communities, they battle to become Jews regardless of the consequences. (Most of the film is in Spanish with English subtitles; a Spanish transcript is available for portions only in English.) 

    Following the screening, there will be a conversation with moderator Dalia Wassner, Ph.D. Director, HBI Project on Latin American Jewish & Gender Studies at Brandeis, Rabbi Claudia Kreiman of Brookline’s Temple Beth Zion, and director and producer Gabriela Böhm. 

    Gabriela Böhm is a documentary director, producer, writer and editor. She is founder of the documentary film company Böhm Productions, which produces creative, thought-provoking, character-driven films that explore our common humanity through inspiring stories — past and present. Her award-winning films have screened worldwide. 

    Gabriela's family was forever changed by the events of The Holocaust, leaving a trail of ghosts in its residue. Her creative work is alive, pulsating, and fed by questions that reflect back to this source. In addition, she is the Program Manager of the Tools for Tolerance for Educators program at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. A native of Argentina, Gabriela received her BFA at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and an MFA at Maine Media College.

    This is a free event conducted in partnership with The Walnut Street Synagogue, WIFVNE, and the Boston Latino International Film Festival. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Chelsea Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

    The films and discussions will also be offered in English and Spanish. Visit walnutstreetsynagogue.com/film-series for complete details and ticket information. 

  • 12 Nov 2020 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by JoAnn Cox

    The 2020 Maine Jewish Film Festival is in full swing, and celebrating 23 years by hosting a virtual festival so that film enthusiasts from near and far can watch their program from the comfort and safety of their homes.

    The Maine Jewish Film Festival runs November 7-20.  For info and tickets, visit their website.


  • 02 Nov 2020 10:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Written by Féliz


     

    Boston Latino International Film Festival (BLIFF) BLIFF kicked off on September 23, 2020 just in time to commemorate the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The event was coordinated by director Sabrina Aviles with the help of volunteers who spent weeks curating a lineup of 32 films created by the Latinx film community for the Latinx community and the world. BLIFF, in light of the unprecedented global situation due to the pandemic, went streaming to accommodate audiences at home. Along with feature documentaries and narratives, the entirely online event showcased a plethora of short film programs, each included four short films in the lineup which were all paid for with a “what you can” fee. These programs were strategically curated, as each had a core message and theme which BLIFF utilized to presented the Latinx community through a wholesome, real, and human lens.

    On opening night, the program“El Pueblo Unido” (“The United Town”) became available for viewing. The central theme in this program of films is “People coming together to support each other with a common goal of improving their communities.” The first film in the roster, Boston’s Latin Quarter directed by Monica Cohen encapsulates the core meaning of “El Pueblo Unido.” The documentary focuses on the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain and we meet folks who have been part of the community for decades:  Eduardo Vasallo, a Cuban immigrant and owner of the MR. V Auto Parts, and Damaris Pimentel, an immigrant hair salon owner. “For more than 40 years the Latin community has come together to plant a seed of unity in Jamaica Plain. It’s a community that is setting an example of co-living,” Pimentel explains. Co-living is the core of this Latin hub in Boston, as immigrants from all over Latin America cultivated the seed that eventually grew into the resilient community that it is today. 

    The documentary also highlights the works of Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF), an organization whose mission is to “connect to create a more diverse and equitable Boston.” Celina Miranda, the executive director of HSTF, explains that the program “encourages Latin youth to tap into the Latino music origins and to dive into the history.” The organization creates projects such as the Latin Quarter Fiesta, a celebration of Latin and Afro Latino culture for the Latino youth. Ken Tangvik the Director of Organizing and Engagement at HSTF, explains how he, a white man joined the organization because of the Latin Quarter’s vibe, and culture; growing fond of the community, he actively participates in preserving it.

    However, just as it touches up on the vibrant side of its history, the documentary show audiences much darker realities. Tangvik talks about the drug crisis that arose in the 1980s, and recalls witnessing dangerous drug dealers infesting the community. Eduardo Vasallo adds onto this tale, explaining though the Latin Quarter “became more diverse” many Americans fled from the region, and “[I]t got to the point that Americans didn’t want to live in Jamaican Plain.” Nevertheless, the residents unified and made it a mission to overcome their hardships and become the clean and prosperous community it once was. The documentary ends on a high note, amplifying what the Latin Quarter means to its residents, as expressed by Celina Miranda: “We’re progressing as a community, having a location is so important for the community because it means being seen.” 

    Navigating from the themes of keeping the community alive, and advocating for the rights de la gente we dive into more harsher themes with the "Social Justice" program. This program is divided in two:  reality and fiction, but these are unified with the theme of showing “just how difficult it can be to get out, or change the circumstances one is born into.” One of the most impactful pieces is the documentary A la Deriva (Adrift) directed by Paula Cury Melo. This documentary touches on teen pregnancy in the Dominican Republic.

    It’s a grim topic, as it shows the raw and dreadful side of one of the most prevailing issues of the island. With hard hitting facts such as “22 percent of women in Dominican Republic became mothers by the age of 19,” the audiences are shaken into a rude awakening. We meet young teenage mothers-to-be like Selena, who at only 14 years old is already six months pregnant, and Viazlin, a 12-year-old pregnant from a 21-year-old man. In this documentary, we learn how so many young girls wind up in such heart-wrenching situations: children don’t receive proper sexual education. Selena was a prime example of this, as she struggled to answer the question “Did you use protection?” to which she replied not knowing what that meant. 

    Dr. Lillian Fondeur an OBGYN and women’s rights advocate, actively advocates for children’s right to receive proper sex education. She preaches about the correlation between proper sex education and many young girls falling victims of teen pregnancies. Dr. Victor Calderon the General Director of Los Mina Maternity Hospital explains “27 percent of maternity wards are occupied by women younger than 18 years old.” He further reveals that the youngest impatient in the maternity ward was just 11 years old.  And as the audience begin to wonder the “why?” to this upsetting situation, the documentary lays down the hard fact: religion. The Catholic Church in Dominican Republic has a very strong presence within congress, and abortions are illegal under any circumstance. Despite the plea of many pro-choice advocates, congress and the church maintain an iron clad on their opposition to the legalization of abortion despite illegal abortions being the third leading cause of death among maternal deaths. From another teenage mom, Mabel, we learn how easily girls start to gamble with their own lives. Mabel became pregnant at 16 with twins and practiced an illegal abortion. At 17 she gave birth to a girl, and shockingly admitted to performing 10 more illegal abortions since. Moment by moment, the documentary echoes the theme of the film program: these young girls are born and live in an inescapable circumstance. Audiences see reflected on the faces of young mothers-to-be such as Viazlin’s, the loss of hope and despair as she expresses that she feels like she failed at life. By the end of the film, audiences are left with a sense of helplessness leaving room for only one feeling, bitterness.

    Clicking on the "Magical Realism" program, the central message for the audience is to utilize the films as a way to give room and “expand the way [they] see [themselves], and the world.” Among the short films, one that stands out is Light on a Path, Follow directed by Elliot Montague. The film tells the story of Joaquín, a transgender man who lives alone in rural 1990s New England. Joaquin is eight months pregnant and in his last trimester, he comes face to face with a mysterious spirit in the forest, an encounter that prompts Joaquín to go into labor early. The subject matter, the tone, the character himself is a true parallel to the message of Magical Realism, that which appears fantastical is normal in this world. It is truly refreshing to watch a film be truthful to the representation of the Latinx LGBTQ community by casting a transgender actor to play a transgender character. For years, members of the LGBTQ communities have voiced their yearning to see themselves portrayed on screen in a humanistic manner, far from the negative stereotypical roles. Finally seeing a film that does just that, gives everyone a sense of being heard. This film also amplifies what it means to be pregnant or, more appropriately who can be pregnant.

    Pregnancy and childbirth have always been associated as a natural occurrence in life for biological women, but watching a transgendered man’s experience is how Light on a Path, Follow becomes a mold breaking phenomenon; it disrupts audiences’ preconceived notions. Lastly, the presence of spirituality and the connection to nature rings closely with many cultures from the Latinx diaspora, which hold close to heart what it means to be one with nature and letting spirits guiding one into the right pathway.

    And for the closing date, on September 27th, audiences could watch the program titled “Familia” (“Family”). The short films presented touched up on the themes of “estrangement, siblings, going "home," and family secrets.”

    Bibi, directed by Victor M. Dueñas, tells the story of Ben Solís, a young man of Mexican descent receiving the tragic news of his father’s passing. Upon hearing the news, Ben hesitates on returning home, but begrudgingly returns to his hometown to handle the final detailing of his father’s funeral. As audiences immerse themselves into this story, the film flashbacks to a young Ben becoming closer with his father after his mother’s death. The film tackles the themes of loss and single parenting, which plant the seed of relatability and humanity. Their close relationship is maintained through the usage of writing letters to one another. This method of communication reflects with many Latinx cultures; as verbal communication and expression of one’s feelings aren’t the norm.

    As the film progresses, Ben’s beginning hesitation on coming home is explained: -with a letter, he confessed to his father that he is gay, prompting immediate rejection from him. The powerful coming-out scene is the most impactful one, as homophobia and machismo are heavily cemented into the Latinx community, especially in the Mexican culture. As Ben and his father become estranged, the viewing public is left with little hope to a good resolution for the young man. However, a refreshing twist hits everyone as Ben’s journey in the film ends as he meets another young, handsome gay man. The exchange of hellos and smiles only mean one thing, the beginning of a love story. Overall, this film was like a breath of fresh air as the main character, a gay man, isn’t shown suffering due to his homosexuality. Throughout modern cinema, gay characters were often seen as lost souls left in a pit of loneliness and despair due to their sexuality. Additionally, many gay characters have been killed on screen sometimes minutes or a few episodes of either coming out or finally being with the ones they love; a trope known as “bury your gays”. Watching a young established and successful, Hispanic gay man have a happy ending sounds almost too good to be true but Bibi is one of those films that lends a hand into painting the Latinx LGBTQ community with more vibrant, truthful, and humanistic colors.

    BLIFF, and other Latino Film Festivals, are showcases that deserve more appreciation, as they hold the key to opening the doors for many Latino filmmakers into the world. Conversely, this door works both ways, as it’s a door that offers a peak into Latinx community. By attending Latino film festivals, viewers receive the honor of watching and learning how the Latinx community is doing from its own point of view. Supporting film festivals that celebrate and highlight the Latin community is integral and important because it waters the Latin roots and keeps them alive. Additionally, attending festivals such as BLIFF as members of the Latin community itself means stepping into memory lane as it serves as a tool to remind one of one’s origins. When watching documentaries such as Latin Quarter, audiences will know of how resilient and powerful la cultura can be. With films such as A La Deriva, we step back and remember that the world is still in need of repair. And films such as Light on a Pathway, follow and Bibi show that the voices of the underrepresented communities don’t just echo, they shout clearly and are heard.  

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