A Lens Unlike Any Other

Photo+courtesy+of+Michael+Alcala

Photo courtesy of Michael Alcala

Big blockbuster films are a dime a dozen nowadays. Foreign films, however, are a tad harder to come by. Latino films can be particularly difficult to find. Luckily for residents of Seattle, there is the Seattle Latino Film Festival.

Photo courtesy of Michael Alcala
Photo courtesy of Michael Alcala

The opening night of the Seattle Latino Film Festival was held at the EMP on Friday, Oct. 2.

The Festival opened last weekend at the Egyptian Theater. With films from over 20 countries and showings of 31 films in 10 days, SLFF aims to give voice to Latino filmmakers and provide a platform for cultural education.

Jorge Enrique Gonzalez-Pacheco founded SLFF in 2008 and the festival’s conception has roots in the Seattle University community. When Gonzalez-Pacheco, an award winning poet and author of four books of poetry, first moved to Seattle many years ago, he became quick friends with Latin American studies lecturer Diana Luna, who would ultimately invite Gonzalez-Pacheco to speak to her students. The pair would become fast friends.

Noting the lack of Latino representation in the Pacific Northwest, Gonzalez-Pacheco was inspired to form a creative outlet; the Seattle Latino Film Festival.

“I talked with Diana Luna and I said, ‘Do you think it would be good to create a film festival here?’ and her answer was ‘Try,’”
Gonzalez-Pacheco said.

After some encouragement, networking and hard work, Gonzalez-Pacheco founded SLFF which is now in its seventh year. The SLFF aims to entertain and educate people about Latin culture by showcasing films that they may not be able to see elsewhere.

“Each [film] festival has their own personality,” explained Gonzalez-Pacheco. One of the goals of the SLFF is to represent the Latino culture in an accessible way, and that is reflected in its personality. The festival is for everyone and anyone interested in the arts and culture is encouraged to attend.

SLFF continues to thrive under Gonzalez-Pacheco’s guidance. Put on by a small group of volunteers, the festival is continuing to grow. SLFF is one of the only Latino-specific festivals that exists in the entire northwest.

“SLFF is one of the very few means of accessing quality films from all over Latin America and the Iberian peninsula here in the PNW,” said Seattle U alum Brian Cunningham.

He said that the most impressive facet of SLFF is the assortment of countries and perspectives represented at the festival and how these films bring a multitude of diverse communities together.

“Having access to this diverse array of work and quality foreign cinema in general is vital to our growth and education as a society,”
Cunningham said.

“Seattle has this creative energy all around and that’s well-known everywhere in the world,” Luna said. “It’s an asset to our community, considering our growing Hispanic population, as well as an educational tool…The films [at SLFF] explore different themes that we wouldn’t normally see.”

Gonzalez-Pacheco emphasizes the importance of sharing Latino film as a gift to the community, and a tool to educate people with regard to life outside of the United States. Films cover topics such as immigration, love, music, emerging adulthood and many others. The lens through which these films are shot, Gonzalez-Pacheco said, is unlike any other.

The festival hosts a number of events aside from screenings, panel discussions, “best of” competitions and after-party celebrations. All of these events are open to the public and those interested are encouraged to join in the festivities.

SLFF continues until Oct. 11, with screenings at various venues throughout the Seattle area. More information can be found at slff.org.

Sam may be reached at [email protected]