Cinemateca celebrates culture, diversity

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August 27th, 2012

Omaha, NE – Covering everything from immigration to baseball, Cinemateca 2012 opens at Film Streams this Friday.

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Organized every two years by Film Streams and the University of Nebraska Omaha’s Office of Latino and Latin American Studies (OLLAS), Cinemateca celebrates Hispanic culture and diversity in cinema.

“What is interesting about this,” said Steven Torres, an associate professor in UNO’s OLLAS department and a key organizer of the series, “is that never before has there been something done quite like (it), despite the fact that there is a significant number of Spanish speaking individuals in the city of Omaha.”

The Cinemateca series includes films from all over the world that represent an array of issues and perspectives among the diversity that is Latin America. A Better Life, by director Chris Weitz, deals with the well-trodden issue of immigration, but the remainder veers from a revisionist epic of Columbus’s conquest filmed in Bolivia to a Dominican Republic documentary about baseball in Ballplayer.

“We are able to bring together people from very different walks of life,” Torres said. “The kind of dialogue that is generated here really represents the diversity of perspectives that you have in a city such as Omaha.”

Torres said the selection process for the films in the series begins over a year in advance. In previous years, the series focused on older, classic films. But this year, the majority are first-run films or very recent. (To see the full schedule, click here)

Cintemateca is not only meant to encourage community dialogue, Torres said, but also to highlight foreign film traditions. “Often, there isn’t a great deal of familiarity with the great films of other countries,” he said. “When we see what’s playing at the movie theaters, we see a lot of Hollywood films. We don’t often see too many foreign films. And there are many people who would like to know more about the filmmaking traditions outside the U.S.,” he added. Torres said in countries where the film industry is subsidized by the government, filmmakers tend to choose aesthetics or message over commercial viability, and that can lead to very different types of films. “People are often surprised to see some of these techniques,” Torres said.

Cinemateca kicks off with its first film, Los Olvidados, a 1950 classic on Friday, Aug. 31. The series continues throughout September. Each week, a special screening will be held, which will include a post-film discussion and locally-provided Spanish food. The director and author of the book behind the film Ballplayer will also host a discussion September 13.

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