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CineFest Latino Boston is the city’s new Latino film festival

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
CineFest Latino Boston is the city’s new Latino film festival
Scene from the film “Utama.”

This fall, the team behind the Boston Latino International Film Festival will debut CineFest Latino Boston, a new festival with similar goals to celebrate Latin American filmmakers and educate moviegoers about the diversity of the Latinx experience. Sabrina Avilés and other members of BLIFF plan to shape the new organization into a festival with national impact as well as tight-knit ties to the local community.

“This was an opportunity to start a new chapter and start something from the ground up,” says Avilés, the festival’s executive director. “It was a chance for me to take the festival to another level.” BLIFF has been running since 2001, and Avilés says the strong connections the festival built with filmmakers, producers and viewers will help establish CineFest Latino in its place.

Avilés has sights set on the global stage, with a long-term hope that CineFest Latino will become recognized internationally for its commitment to Latin American filmmakers. But the proposed growth won’t infringe on the festival’s connection to the Boston community. Tying in local community members is a priority, particularly for Q&As and other interactive dialogues, youth programming and advance screenings in local neighborhoods.

CineFest will continue BLIFF’s mission to celebrate and elevate Latinx voices. “We want to elevate our voices, educate people that we are more than what they see in the news,” Avilés says. “To magnify the importance and impact we have made on this nation in many ways. That is either not known or taken for granted.”

Scene from the film “Utama.”

This September, CineFest will host not a full-blown festival, but two carefully curated screenings with ArtsEmerson and the Coolidge Corner Theatre. Avilés says she didn’t want a hybrid event to feel lackluster and decided to wait to debut the festival properly in fall 2023. That will be a full multi-day festival with panels, events and a robust lineup of films. Avilés also hopes a little time will allow the new organization to distinguish itself from BLIFF to avoid confusion.

CineFest will screen “Utama” in collaboration with ArtsEmerson on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m. Details for the Coolidge Corner screening and ticket purchasing options will be available the first week of September on the CineFest website. Each screening will include a Q&A after the film, furthering Avilés’ desire to have strong and consistent community participation in the festival.

“We are a thoughtful film festival, and a lot of the films that we presented with BLIFF and will continue to present with CineFest Latino are really around social justice and elevating and supporting that independent voice.”

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