The Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival draws people of all ages and cultural backgrounds to come together each spring for an educational and entertaining community event. In its ninth season, the weekend-long festival takes place from April 5th – 7th at the Wealthy Theatre in the Peter Wege Auditorium. This year, there is a “spotlight” on Brazil. Two visiting filmmakers will also be in attendance to present their films at the festival and meet with students.
With the new slogan, “Cinema Without Borders,” the organizers aim to make Latin American films accessible with a wide array of subject matter and film genres, giving audiences a perspective on countries that are close and yet far away. English subtitles are provided for all films. A priority is placed on choosing films that represent the diversity of Latin America. Films range from Academy Award winning independent films to smaller documentaries and a program of shorts. A children’s film, El Libro de Lila (Lila’s Book) will screen as part of a matinee that will also include puppet shows performed by students from GVSU.
The process of selection is carefully thought out. The committee does a search and contacts distributors, starting with films they have heard about and those shown at other festivals. “The festival is in April, and when it is over, we immediately start planning for the next one.” says Toni Perrine, Venue subcommittee chair and GVSU Professor of Film and Video Production.
Grand Valley Professor of Spanish, Dr. Zulema Moret, founded the festival in 2010 as a collaborative effort among educational institutions and Grand Valley has continued its involvement ever since. As a nonprofit organization, the Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival operates on donations and sponsorships primarily from universities, and GVSU is the primary supporter. Visual and Media Arts professors of Graphic Design, Vinicius Lima and Raúl Peña, have contributed their skills, designing the new logo and the 2019 poster respectively.
In addition to the films, there will be free food provided by local Latin American restaurants to make for a fun weekend celebrating culture. The film schedule and more information can be found at the website grlaff.org.