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Celebrating culture: Festival features films from NM, Spain, Latin America

In five years, ¡Cine Magnífico! has grown into a festival that provides diversity in films.

From film to culinary arts to education, the purpose of the festival is to showcase Latin American films and bring the community together.

The Brazilian film “El Revenge” will screen on Sept. 17 at The Guild.

“We have 25 films,” says Milly Castañeda-Ledwith, festival director. “There are some really good options.”

In previous years, the film festival opened with an international film.

Castañeda-Ledwith says the festival decided to open with a block of New Mexico-made films.

“The film industry in New Mexico is getting so strong,” she says. “We wanted to bring a bigger focus to the local filmmaking community. They’ve been involved in the past, and we wanted to showcase them more.”

A scene from the Spanish film “May God Save Us.”

Along with the New Mexico film block, Castañeda-Ledwith says, the themes of the films include immigration and children’s film. The festival features films from Spain, Cuba, Argentina, Honduras, Chile, México, Venezuela, Brazil and the United States.

A scene from the Cuban film “Esteban.”

“¡Cine Magnífico!’s vision is to present the newest films by and about Latinos to promote our culture through film and enrich our local art community,” she says. “We showcase a diverse set of films, from award-winning to local and up-and-coming filmmakers. We also offer year-round film programming.”

Castañeda-Ledwith says the festival will have a soft opening on Thursday, Sept. 14, with two free events.

The first is at 7 p.m. at the Bank of America Theatre at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

The film “El Ciudadano Ilustre/The Distinguished Citizen” will screen. Then there will be the Immigration Program, in which four films will screen at the Student Union Building on the University of New Mexico campus.

Both are free and open to the public.

A scene for the video from the hip-hop band Wake Self called “No Price Tags.”

“This is a big part of our educational part,” she says. “We are working with the Latin American Institute and other Latino and Hispanic organizations to get the word out. We wanted to provide these for free because we wanted to give back to the community that has supported us.”

Castañeda-Ledwith says the films screened as part of the festival help start a conversation.

“We’ve worked with some amazing people on getting a great festival in order,” she says. “With four days, we’re limited with what we offer. My goal is to take the film festival to a week next year. It’s possible because there is so much great film in the world.”

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