Appearances and Disappearance in City Hall

By Maurice Pinzon
This summer’s fifth annual New York International Latino Film Festival (NYILFF) begins on July 27 with “Imagining Argentina,” directed by Christopher Hampton and starring Antonio Banderas, Emma Thompson and Ruben Blades.

According to the Latino Film Festival’s website, the film is about how “the people of Argentina are forced to live under a corrupt military dictatorship.” It goes on to say, “Those who oppose it risk their lives, and the lives of their families, a fate eventually suffered by 3,000 ‘desaparecidos’ (the disappeared).”

The Latino Film Festival also includes “A Day Without a Mexican,” which was directed by Sergio Arau. The story speculates about what would happen in California if 14 million Latinos in the state were to disappear each day.

Last week, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his Latin Media and Entertainment Commission invited actor and director John Leguizamo to City Hall to help promote the Latino Film festival, which will feature these two films and about 60 others, from July 27 to August 1.

At the news conference, Mr. Leguizamo thanked Mayor Bloomberg for his support, adding that he believed New York City needed to have a film industry as vibrant as Hollywood’s.

In a brief interview with New York News Network after the news conference, Mr. Leguizamo said the Latino Film Festival represented “a nurturing environment and a marketplace for Latin films to be bought, to be seen.”

He said the Latino Film Festival would help to “create an environment so the best talent comes – writers, directors, actors.”

Mr. Leguizamo said this type of film festival was critical “to the development of Latin culture and film.”

Mayor Bloomberg’s baile Latino – in this instance, support for the festival – appears to be another example of the Bloomberg administration’s unrelenting courtship of Latinos by tapping into their very varied cultures.

By comparison, African-Americans might feel a little left out, although recently, former New York City mayor, David Dinkins, told New York News Network that shortly after Mayor Bloomberg was elected, they both sat down for a lengthy talk on a number of issues. Mayor Dinkins has also advised the Bloomberg administration on homeless issues.

Novelist Toni Morrison once called Bill Clinton America’s first black president.

Is it possible that Mayor Bloomberg is shooting to be New York City’s first Latino mayor?

The NYILFF’s executive director, Calixto Chinchilla, said many of the entries to the festival were filmmakers from New York City working on their first feature film.

For more information about the Latino Film Festivals’ films, events and tickets, visit NYLatinoFilm or call the festival hotline at 212-726-2358.

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