Last year the Smith Opera House was host to a band of Latino performers that attracted members of the Colleges and Geneva communities alike. Seeing the success of this event and the enthusiasm of the community, Director of Intercultural Affairs at HWS Alejandra Molina decided that there needed to be another event to bring the Hispanic community of Geneva together with both the town and Colleges. Osbaldo Arce, of the Legal Assistance of the Finger Lakes, who had helped to coordinate the Latin music event, suggested to Molina that a film festival might be just the thing.
“Movies have such a universal appeal,” says Molina, who notes that the Geneva Latino Film Festival has grown beyond a mere idea. “We hope that this brings in a lot of people. The idea is to be able to have other film festivals eventually, celebrating other nationalities. We see it as the beginning of the recognition of Geneva’s wonderful diversity.”
The festival will take place at the Smith on Oct. 1 – 3, with events beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday and Sunday evenings, and 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. The three films chosen represent a spectrum of genres and nationalities in order to attract all types of movie goers, as well as represent several nationalities within the Hispanic community. “We decided, ‘Let’s broaden the audience!’ We don’t want to attract just people who know about Mexican cinema,” explains Molina.
Each film will also be accompanied by a special event in the spirit of larger film festivals. The first night of the festival will be marked by the opening reception of local photographer Spencer Tulis’ exhibit “Latino Perspectives.” The first film being shown, “La Ciudad” from director David Riker, features four interwoven stories of Hispanic immigrants living in New York City. A panel and moderator will be present after the movie to help viewers discuss the complexities of the film and the immigration debate.
The second film, the Oscar-nominated “Tango,” directed by Carlos Saura, will be preceded by a tango demonstration from the Geneva Tango group, giving members of the community a real taste of the Argentine dance.
Concluding the festival is the showing of the neo-noir “Broken Embraces,” directed by Pedro Almodóvar and starring Penelope Cruz, which will be followed by a community discussion. Molina believes that this post-festival dialogue is perhaps the most important aspect of the weekend’s events.
“Geneva is a small city with issues effecting big cities,” says Molina. “It is essential to have more of these collaborative events that encourage people to talk and share on issues that are so important. We are very hopeful that this will be the beginning of many other events that recognize other people’s cultures as a way of bringing people together.”