Photo courtesy El Rayo Films
The largest urban Latino film event in the United States begins today and runs through Sunday, August 21. AQ Online speaks with Calixto Chinchilla, founder of the New York International Latino Film Festival (NYILFF) about how the Latino movie industry continues to evolve and some of the films that should not be missed.
Interview by Wilda Escarfuller.
Americas Quarterly Online: Over the course of the last 12 years how has the festival, the movies and filmmakers showcased evolved?
Calixto: The festival has become more sophisticated with the advances in technology. The stories also have evolved, and the filmmakers are increasingly capturing different aspects of Latino culture by broadening the way they reach out in their films using comedy and drama as well as thrillers to tell their stories. We want to reflect the diversity of Latinos in this year’s festival and strive to bring talented filmmakers that will meet and surpass audience expectations.
AQ Online: How did you select the films and topics showcased this year?
Calixto: We do not select topics; the topics emerge from the selection. In the beginning of the year we issued a call for entries to filmmakers in the U.S. and Latin America. This year we received over 500 titles.
After the entries are collected, our screening committee and programmers sort through all of the material. This year, we narrow it down from approximately 200 titles to the final 100 titles. From there, the festival starts to take a shape of its own. From the beginning of the process we are conscious to balance the stories and countries selected. We want to avoid an excess of immigrant stories and social justice themes and be certain that there is something for everyone—from the younger to the elder generations.
AQ Online: How has the increase of the U.S. Latino population affected the Latino film industry?