Grand Rapids to host annual Latin American Film Festival

By Taylor Crowley | 4/5/18 3:17am

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GVL / Courtesy - Gustavo Rondon Cordova

For Grand Valley State University community members interested in other cultures, the Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival (GRLAFF) may offer an exciting and entertaining means of learning. 

The festival runs from Friday, April 6, through Sunday, April 8, at the Wealthy Street Theatre in Grand Rapids. Along with diverse films, there will also be authentic Latin American food. The festival is LIB 100- and 201-approved. 

The Wealthy Street Theatre has presented GRLAFF since 2010 and has continued to host the festival on an annual basis. The theater brings films that represent diverse perspectives, origins and themes to show the community. 

This year’s festival will present films from many different countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Paraguay and Venezuela. After the films, there will be panels as well as time for Q&A sessions. 

Two directors have been invited as special guests to talk about their films with the community. Catalina Mesa, from Colombia, will present her film “Jericó: The Infinite Flight of Days,” which visualizes a love poem for a small town in Colombia. 

Gustavo Rondón Córdova, from Venezuela, will present his film “The Family,” which shows a single father trying to protect his young son from life in the streets. 

Both of these directors are award-winning international filmmakers. 

“This is a unique opportunity to watch award-winning films that are not easy to find in a theater near you," said Medar Serrata, associate professor of Spanish at GVSU and member of the organizing committee for GRLAFF. "I heard somebody say that watching a movie is the closest thing to traveling.” 

Serrata said these films bring viewers closer to a different culture and give them a taste of what life is like in a different culture. Serrata also said he firmly believes that this festival is great for the community. He encourages the community to attend not only for the experience, but also because it is a free event. 

“In the case of the Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival, our hope is that students, and the Grand Rapids community as a whole, will be able to appreciate that Latin America is a vibrant, diverse region, a region of people with different linguistic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds," he said.

Not only will the festival feature award-winning filmmakers, but associate professor Jason Yancey’s Spanish students will be performing puppet shows as a new addition to the children’s program. The committee wanted to target families this year, so they invited the students to perform their shows. 

Yancey’s students will be performing in the Wealthy Street Theatre’s microcinema on Saturday, April 7, at 1:30 p.m., followed by a film. Yancey will also perform his own puppet show. 

For more information on the event, visit www.grlaff.org/.

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