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    Cinema simpatico

    A Latin film festival aims to bring cultural awareness to Anglos and Hispanics through several award-winning movies.

    By EILEEN SCHULTE

    © St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001


    Pass on the Corona and lime. Here's a better way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year: See some good Latin films.

    Yes, most will have subtitles.

    Unfortunately, said Maggie Hall, some people have a slight mental block about them.

    "They say, "We don't want to go to the movies and read,' " said Hall, Pinellas County senior public information specialist.

    Maybe they'll make an exception for the first-ever Uno Latin Film Festival at the Main Street Cinema this weekend. It features 16 award-winning movies from Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Argentina and Venezuela -- some short, some full length, some documentaries, some fiction.

    Why have a Latin film festival in Clearwater?

    "This area is becoming more Hispanic every day," said Hall, who lived in Havana until she was 9. "In the last five years, the Latin population has skyrocketed."

    According to recent census information, Pinellas County's Hispanic population, while still small at 4.1 percent, more than doubled from the last census to 42,760.

    Hall said that through the films, organizers of the film fest are "hoping to give people a unique look at a culture that is becoming more a part of Pinellas County."

    But the main mission, according to Mirella "Mica" Martinelli, festival coordinator and filmmaker, "is to bring Anglos and Hispanics together."

    Roxana Levin, a Spanish instructor at St. Petersburg Junior College, came up with the idea for the film fest and obtained a $6,000 grant from the city of Clearwater to put it on.

    It is part of the 11-day Fiesta del Sol al Sol, an event designed to foster a business and cultural exchange between the United States, Mexico and Latin America.

    The festival is divided into several programs, including tonight's opening night Latin American Panorama I, featuring the short film Ilha das Flores (Island of Flowers), a Brazilian film, and a Mexican feature film, Ultima Llamada (Last Call). A reception with a Latin dinner will follow at the Comfort Inn conference room.

    At noon Saturday, there will be a showing of 100 Ninos Esperando un Tren (100 Children Waiting for a Train). A children's film workshop will be held afterward.

    At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Latin American Panorama II will begin, opening with the short film Opressao (Oppression). Afterward, there will be a showing of the feature film Coraje (Courage), and a discussion about the movies led by University of Tampa film instructor Elizabeth Coffman.

    Latin American Panorama III will kick off at 4:10 p.m. Saturday with the short film Tiempo de Mujeres (Time of Women), and close with the feature movie Terra do Mar (Land of the Sea).

    The film's directors, Mirella Martinelli and Eduardo Caron, will talk about how it was made.

    La Pasion de Nuestra (The Passion of Our Lady), a Costa Rican short, will be the opening film of Latin American Panorama IV at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. After that will be a feature from Peru, Alias La Gringa.

    St. Petersburg Junior College instructor Delia Palermo will answer questions about the films from that segment.

    Whether you are of Mexican descent or not, you may remember the name of the star of the 1943 classic Maria Candelaria. Dolores Del Rio was considered by some to be one of the most beautiful actors of her time. Maria Candelaria will be shown during the Oldies but Goldies program at 9 p.m. Saturday.

    Two films made in the United States but deal with Hispanic issues will be shown during the U.S. Visions program at 2 p.m. Sunday: The short film New Suits (Nuevos Trajes), and a feature film, Across the Line (Al Cruzar la Frontera). A discussion about the films will be led by St. Petersburg Junior College film instructor Patricia Matchette.

    It's back to subtitled flicks at 4:30 p.m. during Latin American Panorama V, featuring the Costa Rican short Las Mascaras (The Masks), and the longer Argentine movie Sol de Otono (Autumn Sun).

    Roxana Levin, a St. Petersburg Junior College Spanish instructor, will answer questions about the films.

    At 7 p.m., the festival will wrap up with Latin American Panorama VI, featuring the short film PRKadeia (Off 2 Jail), a Brazilian film, and a full-length film called Amanecio de Golpe (A Coup at Day Break).

    The director of PRKadeia, Eduardo Caron, will talk about the making of his movie.

    The event is "a nice way for (Hispanics) to feel welcome, nourished, to see our culture reflected here," said Martinelli, the festival coordinator, who is from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and moved to Largo a year ago.

    If you go

    The Uno Latin Film Festival will kick off at 7 tonight at the Main Street Cinema, 27928 U.S. 19, Clearwater. The cost is $10 for the opening night movie and reception and $6 per film afterward. The festival will continue with showings at 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, and 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday. For reservations or information, call (727) 393-3429.

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