The Boston Latino International Film Festival (BLIFF) is thrilled to announce it will once again be showcasing the diverse voices originating in U.S. based-Latinx communities and in the Americas and beyond through film this year from September 24 – October 3. This year’s festival will be hosted virtually and film offerings will include Q&A’s with filmmakers.
This year, BLIFF will present nine films including Ken Schneider and Marcia Jarmel’s documentary feature, Los Hermanos/The Brothers, as well as local filmmaker Monica Cohen’s Dreams of Chonta. BLIFF is also excited to be bringing two narrative features to the festival this year, Women is Losers and Perfume de Gardenias, among other films that aim to break Latinx stereotypes and bring cultures and communities together.
BLIFF all access and individual passes will be on sale in September on a soon to be announced date. A complete schedule of BLIFF events, screenings, and tickets will be available soon at bliff.org.
“COVID has made us redefine how we live, work, and play,” says Sabrina Avilés, Boston Latino International Film Festival director. “That’s certainly true for events like ours. Most festivals, including ours, planned a hybrid, partial in-person event in 2021. But the recent rise of new infections forces us to change that. BLIFF has decided we must protect our audience, act conservatively, and present a compressed version of the festival virtually. That said, we are proud to offer a thoughtful and, we believe, well-curated film selection in 2021—films that were showcased at A-list festivals like Sundance, Tribeca, South by Southwest, and others. It is important to stick to our mission, and host a smaller festival that continues to feature provocative films that celebrate our culture and community.”
Confirmed films to be screened at BLIFF include:
Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It – Directed by Mariem Pérez Riera
RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT illuminates the humor and the grace of Moreno, as well as lesser-known struggles faced on her path to stardom, including pernicious Hollywood sexism and abuse, a toxic relationship with Marlon Brando, and serious depression a year before she emerged an Oscar winner. Moreno’s talent and resilience triumphed over adversity, as she broke barriers, fought for representation and forged the path for new generations of artists.
My Darling Supermarket – Directed by Tali Yankelevich
“Grocery store employees, today’s essential workers, get star treatment in My Darling Supermarket (made prior to the pandemic). Set within a bright, colorful supermercado in São Paulo, Brazil, this charming, funny documentary glides through a seemingly endless array of vibrantly designed shelves and displays, but it’s the store’s employees who take center stage. Rodrigo (in bread) discusses quantum physics and parallel universes; Santo (a forklift operator) builds video game cities; a security officer tracks possible shoplifters on closed circuit TVs (“Two suspects near the condensed milk!”); Ivan (a baker) is into Manga cosplay; and then there’s the artist who lovingly paints the prices. A panoply of individuals with fears, hopes, and questions about their place in the universe are celebrated in a quirky portrait that juxtaposes their idiosyncrasies with the assumed mundanity of bringing food to our table…” —Film Forum
Los Hermanos/The Brothers – Directed by Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider
Virtuoso Afro-Cuban-born brothers—violinist Ilmar and pianist Aldo—live on opposite sides of a geopolitical chasm a half-century wide. Tracking their parallel lives in New York and Havana, their poignant reunion, and their momentous first performances together, Los Hermanos/The Brothers offers a nuanced, often startling view of estranged nations through the lens of music and family.
Featuring an electrifying, genre-bending score, composed by Cuban Aldo López-Gavilán, performed with his American brother, Ilmar, and with guest appearances by maestro Joshua Bell and the Harlem Quartet.
Fruits of Labor (Co-presentation with Bright Lights Film Series) – Directed by Emily Cohen Ibañez
*Free Screening Event*
Ashley Solis is a high school senior who must divide her time between school and supporting her family as a second-generation Mexican American. Located in a California working class town, the harshness of agricultural labor in the strawberry fields shares a stark contrast with the beautiful nature and relationship to her spiritual ancestral upbringing. Director Emily Cohen Ibáñez documents Ashley’s life guided by the spirit world through her hardships and joys in modern America.
Dreams of Chonta – Directed by Monica Cohen
DREAMS OF CHONTA follows the story of Diego Obregon, an Afro-Colombian musician who came to the United States 16 years ago in search of his dreams. He made the ultimate sacrifice by leaving his family behind and living a solitary life.
This is not just another immigrant story focused on terror, inequity and policy; this is a story about the hopes and dreams of an artist, the only ambassador of his music and his culture in NYC. People have never been this close to the life of an undocumented immigrant who’s struggles go beyond himself and his family to create a bridge between 2 worlds. This story honors the wealth and the ripples of change that immigration creates.
Women is Losers – Directed by Lissette Feliciano
In 1960’s San Francisco, bright and talented Catholic school girl Celina Guerrera (Lorenza Izzo) survives a difficult home life by following the rules. That is until an indiscretion creates a series of devastating consequences. As Celina faces the compounded obstacles of being young and alone, she sets out to rise above the oppression of poverty and invest in a future that sets new precedents for the time. Inspired by real women and the Janis Joplin song of the same title, WOMEN IS LOSERS world premiered at the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, where it finished as one of the most-watched of the festival.
Missing in Brooks County – Directed by Lisa Molomot and Jeff Bemiss
70 miles north of the Mexican-US border lies Brooks County, Texas – a haunted, inhospitable place where thousands of immigrants have gone missing or died over the past decade. Missing in Brooks County follows the journey of two families who arrive in Brooks County to look for their loved ones, only to find a mystery that deepens at every turn. Stuck between the jurisdiction of border agents, local law enforcement, and cartels, the county is a barren landscape designed as a deterrent to illegal crossings. Despite this tactical designation, the municipality has never been provided the resources to process the remains of the hundreds of undocumented immigrants who succumb to dehydration and exposure each year. Missing in Brooks County is a potent reminder that these deaths are more than a statistic—each represents a living human being, loved by their family, now lost.
Perfume de Gardenias – Directed by Gisela Rosario Ramos a.k.a. Macha Colón
Perfume de Gardenias, is the debut film from the renowned queer Afro-Puerto Rican singer, multi-disciplinary artist, and filmmaker Macha Colón.
The dark comedy that captures the idiosyncrasies and spirit of a nation adept at creating novel strategies for laughter in the face of adversity, tells the story of Isabel — played by veteran theater and television actress Luz María Rondón in her first movie-starring role — an elderly woman living in a middle-class neighborhood in Puerto Rico, who has just become a widow after having cared for her husband until his last breaths. However, her recent loss becomes a blessing when she crafts a beautiful custom-made funeral for him that catches the attention of Toña (Sharon Riley), a pious but domineering woman who involves herself in local funerals.
On the Divide – Directed by Maya Cueva and Leah Galant
ON THE DIVIDE follows the story of three Latinx people living in McAllen, Texas who, despite their views, are connected by the most unexpected of places: the last abortion clinic on the U.S./Mexico border. As threats to the clinic and their personal safety mount, our three characters are forced to make decisions they never could have imagined.
For more information on the film festival, visit bliff.org.
About the Boston Latino International Film Festival
Since its inception in 2001, the Boston Latino International Film Festival (BLIFF) has been committed to using the power of film to break stereotypes, bring cultures and communities together and reveal the complex issues that affect the Latinx community in the United States, Latin America and Spain.
BLIFF is sponsored in part by ArtsEmerson, BASE, Bright Lights Film Series, Boston Cultural Council, El Planeta, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.