Dreaming of sunny days and warmer weather? MSU Latinx Film Festival, or LxFF, offers five days of film, music and art that is a welcome escape from the winter chill.
The biannual festival, which is celebrating its second iteration, features artists, filmmakers and musicians from both the U.S. and Latin America. Events are scheduled throughout Lansing and East Lansing from Feb. 12-16 and are free and open to the public.
The multifaceted artistic experience offers ample opportunity to interact with filmmakers whose work is often difficult to access in the U.S., as well as experience virtual reality installations. The festival was conceived with the idea to provide meaningful connections for attendees and Latinx communities.
“Even though there is a great film culture in town and on campus, I felt there was a piece missing and that it would be possible to build upon the university’s tremendous resources to establish a Latinx film festival that would build bridges between MSU and the Latinx communities in the region,” said Scott Boehm, LxFF founder and assistant professor in the Department of Romance and Classical Studies in the College of Arts and Letters.
Those bridges were built during the festival’s 2018 iteration, which in spite of being a first-time film festival featured consistently packed theaters. Through post-screening panels and Q&A discussions, community members, faculty and students discussed the selected films and what they reveal about the cultures they represent, as well as what they reveal about those in attendance.
LxFF’s selected films are diverse in terms of the nationality, race and gender of those in front and behind the camera. Festival organizer Claudia Berríos-Campos, a doctoral candidate in Hispanic cultural studies, is proud of the inclusion of films featuring indigenous languages, in particular because the United Nations declared 2019 as the year of indigenous languages.
“As part of an effort to bring awareness about the existence and state of indigenous languages around the world, we decided to include a wide selection of films featuring them,” said Berríos-Campos.
Attendees can watch films like Patricia Ramos’s “7 Boxes,” which features dialogue in Guaraní; Alvaro Delgado Palacios’ “Retablo,” in which Quechua and Spanish are spoken; and Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego’s “Birds of Passage,” which features the Wayúu language and culture.
This year’s festival seeks to replicate its previous success while broadening the experience. Ozzie Rivera, the director of the Puerto Rican music and dance band RicanStruction, has a decades-long activist history of nurturing Latinx community leaders in Detroit. Rivera, who will be performing on Friday, Feb. 14, noted the added value of combining live music with film. “Over the years, I have seen how the arts, particularly music and films, have been instrumental in crafting messages of hope and empowerment in times of great change. When used effectively progressive music and film can deeply inspire and motivate us.”
By blending exposure to a multiplicity of Latinx stories and art forms, LxFF invites attendees to greet 2020 with a renewed sense of hope and connection.
To learn more about LxFF, please visit its website.