Last spring, the New York Times magazine called our mayor the “post-Hispanic Hispanic politician,” meaning, I suppose, that Julián Castro’s “broader American experience” qualified him beyond his ethnicity. Now the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center brings us “Post-Hispanic Cinema: A celebration of Latinos in film,” a broad survey of indie films just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month. Many of the movies come from Maya Entertainment, a film production and distribution company dedicated to Latino content. The very necessity of a company like Maya or a festival like this to get these flicks out to the public suggests current society is not quite as Post- anything as we’d like to think, but the films included do highlight Latino culture’s ever-expanding global impact in the U.S., Caribbean, and of course, Latin America. Much like the Times implied that Castro could succeed as a politician first, Chicano son second, the Post-Hispanic films entertain as indie movies first, Latino content second.*
Fri Oct 1
This bilingual film, set in Mexico City and starring Martin Sheen as an American clinic doctor, focuses on a sport embraced on both sides of the border: boxing. The classic underdog tale of a young boy dead-set on becoming a prize-winning pugilist gets in a few hearty side hooks with its unflinching depiction of Mexico City’s casual embrace of corruption, drugs, and domestic violence.
7pm The Dry Land
Costars America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) and Wilmer Valderrama (That 70s Show) seem to be the only Hispanic connection to a Cinema Verite tale of a soldier’s return home to West Texas after a brutal deployment in Iraq. Don’t be fooled by the TV comedy actors’ presence: half road-trip drama, half The Lost Weekend-esque drinking binge, the depressing plot centers on the soldier’s (Ryan O’Nan) experiences with undiagnosed post-traumatic stress syndrome and the hurt it inflicts on him and everyone he loves.
Sat Oct 2
1pm The Perfect Game
The first half of the Guadalupe’s Bread and Roses film day, wherein you get a yummy lunch gratis with family-friendly entertainment, is a sweet tale of determination featuring San Antonio’s own Bruce McGill (D-Day from cult-fave Animal House). Down-and-out kids in 1950s’ Monterrey, Mexico, rise above dirt-poor roots and scathing bigotry to win the Little League World Series, thanks to faith and an incredible 13-game winning streak in the Series.
4pm Boys of Summer
For doubters that the above film was based on real events, the second Bread and Roses feature is a charming documentary following Curaçao’s 2008 Little League team as they attempt their country’s eighth-consecutive appearance in the World Series’ finals, hopeful to deliver a revenge beatdown on Japan. These real-life baseball pre-teens are by far Post-Hispanic’s most delightful screen presences, and the soundtrack of island jams begs for its own album.
7pm Spoken Word
Indie movies about slam poetry generally have me running for the emergency exit, but this low-key entry by Ulee’s Gold director Victor Nunez drew me back thanks to a great performance by Kuno Becker as prodigal poet/son Cruz Montoya, reluctantly returned to Santa Fe to care for his ailing, stoic father. Making the most of Santa Fe’s gorgeous setting and troubling poverty, Nunez creates a compelling father-son narrative of vulnerability and machismo.
Sun Oct 3
Like an ancient, Spanish-only Dora the Explorer, little animated Nikté is a mischievous, adventurous young Latina. While Dora has a magic map, petulant Nikté gets tapped to fulfill a celestial prophecy and save her Pre-Columbian civilization. Let the kids pretend like that worked out.
4pm The Perfect Game
Up-and-coming Mexican director Carlos Carrera (The Crime of Father Amaro) takes viewers back to Juarez, Mexico in 1996, the relative beginning of a regional nightmare of femicide that continues today. The fictionalized account follows several women from the perspective of a newly-arrived police investigator fixated on the cases, to a crusading social worker, to a naive Chiapas immigrant who seems an imminent victim in a place where, as one character says, “Women are being killed simply for being women.” •
Wed, Oct 6
4 pm Nikté
See above for description
7 pm Backyard
See above for description
Fri Oct 8
4pm Don’t Let Me Drown
Now’s your chance to see Cinefestival 2010’s Premio Mesquite winner for best feature film. The debut from South Central LA native Cruz Angeles focuses not on the West Coast but on New York City immediately post 9/11, through the eyes of Lalo, a young Mexican immigrant and the grieving, Dominicana Stefanie. As the pair becomes young lovers, they and the City begin to slowly rebound from the fall of the twin towers.
7pm Tropico de Sangre
Permanently typecast as the scowling bad-ass, Michelle Rodriguez gets to at least try her hand at historical drama as Minerva Mirabel, one of four Dominican sisters who rallied against dictator Rafael Trujillo. The subsequent assassination of three of the sisters helped launch their underground movement into full-scale political revolt.
Sat Oct 9
11pm “Una Noche de la Gloria: 11th Hour Film Screenings”
As part of the Westside’s nocturnal arts celebration, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center screens Theresa Coronado’s short Take Five on the Westside a cinematic tour of San Antonio’s West Side murals and other selections.