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37th NC Latin American Film Festival shares often overlooked narratives of Latin America

The 37th annual North Carolina Latin American Film Festival (NCLAFF) will not only offer a variety of short-length to feature-length films, but it will also be a chance to engage students and the public into a dialogue concerning issues faced by Latin American people that may be overlooked by popular media. 

NCLAFF is organized as part of the Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. The consortium’s goal is to present a more complex understanding of Latin America, which the film festival does by representing sixteen countries, showing off Latin America’s diversity in ethnic groups, languages, and unique problems. 

This year’s festival will have free showings from Sept. 30 to Oct. 29 with locations in Durham and Chapel Hill, with films revolving around the theme of inbetweenness. Miguel Rojas Sotelo, Ph.D., the director of NCLAFF for the past 12 years, describes that inbetweenness as “the border space in which we, Latinos, or Latin Americans or migrants live in this country [the United States].” 

To get a better understanding of the theme of inbetweenness, Sotelo sat down with the Chronicle and described two of the films from this year’s lineup.  “Mi País Imaginario (My Imaginary Country)”, directed by Patricio Guzman, will be playing on Friday, Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. at the Rubenstein Art Center Film Theater. Sotelo describes the film as Guzman’s “love letter to his nation,” that fits in with the theme of inbetweenness as it focuses on a country, Chile, that is in transition. The documentary film analyzes the social and political changes Chile is going through, particularly sparked after the 2019 protests in the capital city of Santiago. 

“El Guardián de La Memoria (The Guardian of Memory),” directed by Marcela Arteaga, will be shown on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. at the Carolina Theatre of Durham. The film focuses on immigration issues in El Paso, Texas, and Juarez, Mexico, a border region along the U.S/Mexico international border. Local North Carolina immigration lawyers will be present at the screening to discuss how immigration systems are affecting the local Durham community. The film will also be paired with a short film, “Making Waves: The Cocoa Cinnamon Story,” which tells the story of a Latina immigrant who has become a successful entrepreneur in Durham. 

As eluded to, the screenings will allow for discussions about the conflicts presented in the films. On Friday, Oct. 14, a Zoom session is scheduled with directors and critics to go deeper into the films. Katia Lara, a Honduran film maker, will be on campus at Levine Science Research Center (LSRC) A156 on Thurs. Oct. 13 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. to speak on her work as a documentarian of environmental justice and indigenous issues. 

With all this in mind, Sotelo wants Duke students to join in on the festival to highlight narratives that are not usually told, to have an accurate representation of Latin America. 

“We invite you to find stories that are trying to break down that [assumption] down,” Sotelo said. “That address[es] precisely those issues of gender, ethnic, class. Ways that try to interrupt those flows of hegemonic industries that flatten down the experiences of peoples, in this case Latin Americans and Latinos.” 

To find out more about the films and Zoom sessions, as well as screening times and places, visit the North Carolina Latin American Film Festival Website. 


Michael Ramos | Staff Reporter

Michael Ramos is a Trinity first-year and a staff reporter of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

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