by Isabella Silva-Biotti
Hispanic/Latine Heritage Month recently took a graceful bow, but the echoes of 2023 Cine Latino’s cinematic treasures at the Main Cinema still resonate deep within my heart. I embarked on a captivating journey through three new films, and revisited an old favorite, each with its unique blend of humor, intrigue, and an overwhelming warmth that left my soul stirred.
Opening night at the enchanting Pracna was a sensory delight, as the hypnotic melodies of the Huehuecoyotl Collective transported us to a world where history and heritage danced harmoniously. Sipping on La Doña Cerveceria’s finest brew, I could feel my anticipation building for the cinematic gems about to unfold.
Radical (2023), the inaugural masterpiece, whisked me away to Matamoros, a tiny Mexican border town, in the company of the charismatic Eugenio Derbez. As the film unveiled the unconventional teaching methods of Sergio Garcia, I couldn’t help but be deeply moved. Against the backdrop of harsh realities, these young souls found their passion and purpose. The film’s power left an indelible mark on my heart, and I understood perfectly why it had captured the audience’s affection at the 2023 Sundance Festival.
Going Varsity in Mariachi (2023) was a heart wrenching documentary that tugged at my heartstrings on Saturday the 14th. The young musicians from Academia Cesar Chavez’s mariachi band, resplendent in their traditional attire, filled the room with their joyful melodies. Their journey from inexperience to the stage of fierce mariachi competitions was an emotional rollercoaster. I found myself laughing and crying in tandem with their struggles, cheering them on as they realized their dreams. The film not only highlighted their unwavering dedication but also emphasized the importance of preserving Mexican arts and culture.
La Extorsión (2023), helmed by Martino Zaidelis, was an adrenaline-pumping thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat. It introduced me to the sinister world of a commercial pilot ensnared by intelligence services, mirroring the real-life challenges faced by aviators. The story’s intricate twists and character developments kept me guessing, reminding me of the sheer power of storytelling.
Lastly, “Pan’s Labyrinth” by Guillermo del Toro, released in 2006, whisked me away to the haunting world of 1944 Spain. It was an old favorite of mine, and experiencing it with the ‘Midnight Mayhem’ crowd was a unique treat. Surrounded by fellow film enthusiasts, we laughed, sighed, and allowed ourselves to be utterly enchanted by this cinematic masterpiece.
Through all these films, a profound celebration of Latine culture and the arts resonated, touching not only my intellect but my heart and soul. Minnesota and the Midwest shone as vibrant hubs of culture, echoing the vivacious spirit of their inhabitants. These films made me realize the importance of ‘third spaces,’ where we find solace and inspiration, connecting with our deepest emotions, and where diverse cultures intersect to create something truly magical.
These moments of shared laughter, tears, and reflection are a reminder that cinema is not just entertainment; it’s a bridge that unites communities and sparks conversations. Cine Latino’s journey continues to be a beacon, reminding us of the richness of Latine culture, our shared humanity, and the endless potential of our collective story.