Cine Las Americas Starts This Week


Cine Las Americas is an annual tradition here in Austin. Now in its 20th year, Cine (as we customarily abbreviate it) brings us films that the other fests do not. It runs from Wednesday May 3 to Sunday May 7 at three locations, the Blanton Museum, the Santa Cruz Theater on East Seventh Street, and the Mexican American Culture Center.

Since this festival focuses on Latin-American, American Indigenous and Iberian films, and since the programmers are so good, we see an entirely different perspective on today's international film scene than we could get from other film fests, which generally focus elsewhere when compiling their programs. When we attend Cine, it's like getting a big package of letters from places we miss and don't hear from nearly enough.

The program is too big and varied for us to unpack here in its entirety. You should plan to spend a little time with this schedule and plan your festival. Remember that one third of the fest's screenings are absolutely free, so you can enjoy the fest even without a badge, but badges and individual tickets for screenings are available too, and are a bargain.

We at AFS are usually given the honor of choosing a film to co-present at the festival. This year the choice was just too difficult, so the team there gave us a chance to co-present two films. All AFS members may attend these two screenings free of charge by presenting a current membership card at the door.

The first, LA TIERRA Y LA SOMBRA (LAND & SHADE), screens on Thursday, May 4 at the Blanton. We have been following the career of Colombian writer/director César Augusto Acevedo for a few years now, and we presented the film LOS HONGOS, which he wrote, in 2015. In this, his feature directorial debut, he takes us into his native land's sugar cane country for a story of an old farmer who comes home to a family he left many years earlier.

The second could scarcely be more different, A CIDADE ONDE ENVELHEÇO (WHERE I GROW OLD), which screens on Saturday, May 6 at the Blanton, is a Brazilian/Portuguese coproduction. It is a portrait of youth culture focusing on a pair of young women from Lisbon who are living a slacker lifestyle in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. One begins to feel the tug of her homeland, and the other is caught in a conflict between her friendship and a desire for new horizons of her own. This minutely observed, leisurely film does what so many of the best Cine films do, it transports us to a milieu we may not have even been familiar with. It gives us new faces, new streets and new rhythms, as it tells a story that is old as time itself.

These are just two of the many films that will screen at Cine Las Americas this year. See as many as you can and join us in what has become one of our favorite spring pastimes.