Today: Jun 19, 2024

Latino Film Festival offers glimpse into the culture


The camera opens up on two hair stylists waiting for their new boss, Elizabeth, to open up her hair salon in Washington Heights, N.Y. Elizabeth just inherited the shop from her sister and is now the new owner of Picis Salon.

The two stylists gossip and ask if she’ll be able to run the salon.

“Pinchos y Rolos,” directed and produced by Freddy Vargas, is a short film that follows Elizabeth as she tries to run a salon and balance her personal love life.

As the film progresses, viewers are given an insight into the interactions between people within Latin culture.

The second annual Latino Film Festival at SCSU is showing “Pinchos y Rolos” along with many other films by Latino filmmakers at the Adanti Student Center theatre. The first night of showing was Friday, Feb. 24 and continued again on Feb. 27 and Feb. 28.

There will be 18 different showings at the festival. Some showings offer many different short films played one after another.

Many films being shown offer a glimpse into Latin culture and problems that occur within it. One film, “America,” based on the novel written by Isaura Santiago, touches upon the issue of domestic violence in the Latin community.

The film festival aims to expose Latino and non-Latino communities to Latin culture through cinema, and to diminish negative stereotypes of Latinos.

“When you start interacting with other people a lot of these stereotypes have to go away,” said Carlos Torre, professor of education at SCSU and organizer of the film festival. “They can’t stand up. Film is obviously not going to help you interact with people, but as a passive observer, there’s enough similarities between what you see on screen and what goes on in real life that some of those stereotypes begin to start wearing down a bit.”

Photo courtesy Eliezer Santiago
The film festival was held in the Adanti Student Center theater.

Torre, working alongside Margharita Tortora from Yale University, was able to work with NEFIAC to bring these Latin films to Southern.

NEFIAC, The New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema, is a film festival for directors of Latin descent, and according to its website, is an organization dedicated to the presentation of film and video in the region of New England as a powerful form of artistic expression and a unique force for cultural diversity and international understanding.

With the help of the Minority Recruitment and Retention Committee, office of the Provost Marianne Kennedy and Patricia Zibluk from Sponsored Programs and Research at Southern, Torre was able to gain the sponsorship to bring the films to campus.

Because of funding from many different sources, admission is free.

“That can be the one of the purposes of film: to give the audience a slice of life of somebody else,” said Torre, adding he wants the audience to think differently of Latino stereotypes. “If we can get the audience, the non-Latino audience to get to that point, I think we’ve made an important contribution.”

Wes O’Brien, advisor to the SCSU Film Society and part of the media studies department at Southern that has contributed help to the festival said, “It’s too bad that not enough people come to events like these from the Southern community. Instead of hanging around in the student center drinking coffee, walk to the back, come in and watch some of the cinema that’s there. Take advantage of the things being offered, and this is one of those things that’s being offered that’s well worth peoples’ time.”

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