Watch these three movies at CineLatino with me

Like a lot of weekends, this one’s going to start with a great deal of food and end with songs of economic despair.
4 min. read
The Sie FilmCenter on East Colfax Avenue, Sept. 3, 2018. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The fourth year of the Denver Film Society's CineLatino film festival is going to feel pretty familiar to people who've attended before -- calories first, delight and grief last.

DFS has got its rhythm down for the annual showcase of Latino cinema. There are seven feature-length film screenings and some animated shorts and the lineup starts with a movie about food followed by actual food on Thursday and ends with a Sunday happy hour followed by a movie driven by music.

A bit of extra funding came in the form of a FilmWatch grant from the Academy (yes, the Oscars people). Andrew Rodgers, executive director of the Denver Film Society, said that while the grant is pretty flexible and is being used to support some events and DFS' main attraction, the Denver Film Festival, CineLatino benefited from the money in a couple of ways.

"The grant was used to help us secure some of the films, the screening fees," he said. "We were able to put a children's program together for the first time partly because of that."

The mini-fest is a little earlier in the year than usual, starting on Thursday, Sept. 6 and ending on Sunday, Sept. 9 -- that puts it just a week or so ahead of the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, which it's usually pegged to. It all takes place at the Sie FilmCenter on Colfax Avenue.

These are three of the movies I'm looking forward to most.

It's a pretty short festival, and if you want a nice staycation, you can hit 'em all. (I saw all but one or two in last year's lineup and it was a lovely weekend.) The full lineup is on the Denver Film Society website. But if you're pressed for time, these look like real winners to me.

"Las Sandinistas!"

Fri., Sept. 7, 7 p.m.

This film, directed by Jenny Murray, focuses on some of the women at the center of the Sandinista National Liberation Front. They say were eventually pushed aside, and the history of their roles in the Nicaraguan radical group's revolution leading up to the existence of the current government is being erased.

A Hollywood Reporter review says the film isn't perfect — and skips over some facts — but listening to the women tell their stories, now from places that don't look or feel rugged or revolutionary, should be fascinating.

"Home + Away"

Sat., Sept. 8. 2 p.m. 

This one is a documentary about student athletes at Bowie High School in El Paso, Texas -- right on the U.S.-Mexico border. Some of the athletes have family and lives -- a girlfriend, in one case -- in Juárez, Mexico and walk across the border regularly to get to school.

Director Matt Ogens essentially got an assignment from Tribeca Studios to make a doc about youth sports and socioeconomic issues, and he debuted it at the Tribeca Film Festival this year.

Texas Monthly says that the school has its challenges -- it's gone through eight principals in five years. And while it wasn't particularly easy or problem-free before, the issues surrounding immigration have been heightened since the election of President Donald Trump. While the policies changed, made and enforced by the Trump administration have immediate and real effects in El Paso, Ogens says the movie is largely not political. You can watch a trailer here.

"At Your Doorstep"

Sun., Sept. 9, 7 p.m.

Eduard Cortés directed this 2016 film from Spain, which follows a family being evicted, a banker and a police officer, and features characters breaking into songs of despair.

It's the closer. Last year's festival closed out with "Chavela," a doc on the famous Mexican singer Chavela Vargas. People were crying and singing in their seats.

At first glance, I didn't think we'd get there this year, but "Cerca de Tu Casa" is pitched as a musical drama about the economic crisis. Maybe we'll be crying on the inside as we sing along to a lyric from the trailer: "gente sin casas / casas sin gente" -- that is, people without homes, homes without people.

Are you particularly excited about something else on the program? Let me know about it! [email protected]

Here's what you need to know about tickets.

CineLatino opens Thursday, Sept. 6 with a 7 p.m. screening "Constructing Albert," and a reception with food and drink afterward. It runs through Sunday, Sept. 9. All-access passes are $85 for the general public, $70 for Denver Film Society members. Individual screening tickets are $12 for the general public, $10 for members. The opening and closing films are $25 and come with access to receptions.

All films are screened at the Sie FilmCenter, 2510 E. Colfax Ave.

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