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The annual Filadelfia Latin American Film Festival has Philly ties

2 minute read
Cesar on the 1966 march from Delano to Sacramento. (Photo by John Lewis)
Cesar on the 1966 march from Delano to Sacramento. (Photo by John Lewis)

The third annual Filadelfia Latin American Film Festival will open on Friday, April 25 with the acclaimed 1943 Mexican film, María Candelaria, directed by Emilio Fernández and featuring the stunning cinematography of Gabriel Figueroa.

The fest will run through the weekend, ending on Sunday, April 27, and includes 12 feature-length films and shorts from Latin America and the U.S., including several with a Philly connection.

One of the highlights of the festival is Cesar’s Last Fast (2013), by Richard Ray Perez and the late Lorena Parlee. The film employs rare archival footage of Cesar Chavez’s 1988 fast as the framework for the remarkable story of Chavez’s commitment and achievements on behalf of farm workers. Beginning in the early 1960s as a community organizer, Chavez went on to create the United Farm Workers and inspired 13 million Americans to boycott grapes in support of the workers’ strike for decent wages. Cesar’s Last Fast opened last weekend in New York and won a favorable review in the New York Times.

The New Yorker, in a recent article on Chavez, “Hunger Artist: How Cesar Chavez disserved his dream,” praises Cesar’s Last Fast for its acute analysis of his importance. The film has a personal connection for Perez, whose father was a farm worker; as a child, Perez himself marched in the historic grape boycott. He’s since worked extensively as a director and cinematographer on documentary films. Parlee was Chavez’s press secretary at the time of his fast, shooting much of the archival footage in the film. Cesar’s Last Fast is part of a larger multi-platform initiative to support today’s movement for farm worker rights and broader social justice issues.

Philadelphia shorts in the festival include Aquí y Allá (2013) by Michelle Angela Ortiz, a documentary about Mexican immigrant youth in Philadelphia who collaborate with youth in Chihuahua, Mexico on a mural in South Philadelphia. Forbidden Lovers Meant to Be (2013), by Joanna Siegel, Melissa Beatriz Skolnick, and Kate Zambon, documents the making of a video about identity, culture, and language by participants in Taller Puertorriqueño’s 2012 Youth Artist Program.

Venues for the films and related events throughout Philadelphia include the University of the Arts, 401 S. Broad Street; International House, 3701 Chestnut Street; 
Chima Restaurant, 1901 John F. Kennedy Blvd.; Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.; and Old City Coffee in Reading Terminal Market. For tickets, more information, and a full list of screenings and events, visit the FLAFF website.

Kathryn Smith Pyle is a member of the FLAFF advisory board.

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