;Though it boasts a full range of non-cinematic events, ranging from graffiti art displays to street theater and musical performances, the Orlando Latin American Film & Heritage Festival (aka OLA Fest) remains at heart an exposition of Latin filmmaking. Only in its third year, OLA Fest has expanded from its inaugural slate of five films to this year's presentation of 30 feature-length movies and more than 50 short films. More than a series of screenings, OLA Fest brings together a substantial number of filmmakers to strengthen the program.
;;OLA Fests of the past may have been easy to navigate, but with so many choices in 2007 the selection may seem daunting. So here are six film events that we think you'd regret missing, but know that with the wide range of events on offer, you'd do well to see more than just this quick selection. Tickets and information for all events are available at www.olafest.org.;;
;City of God Widely praised and showered with awards upon its 2002 release, City of God is the most well-known of all the films being screened at OLA Fest this year. This harrowing, inspirational portrait of life in one of Rio's worst slums is mandatory viewing and certainly worth revisiting, if only due to the fact that producer Elisa Tolomelli will be in attendance for a Q&A session. (8:10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, at City Arts Factory; $5);;
;A Celebration of Brazilian Cinema Tolomelli also produced Mulheres do Brasil (Women of Brazil) and Central Station, both recipients of extensive critical and awards-panel praise. The two films will be shown in a double feature, with Tolomelli on hand along with Mulheres director Malu de Martino. (6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, at City Arts Factory; $5);;
;Bolívar Soy Yo Only in South America would a soap opera about the continent's most famous liberator be seen as a believable conceit for a movie. In the Colombian film Bolívar Soy Yo, the actor who plays Simón Bolívar on the telenovela becomes obsessed with his character in a most insane way, and winds up thinking he is destined to see through the completion of the Bolívarian Revolution. (6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, at Avalon Island; $5);;
;Salvador Allende While Bolívar's goal was a unified and free South America, some of the continent's rulers have not exactly lived up to the ideals espoused by the founder of their freedom. Long before Hugo Chavez's worker-state dreams were an irritant to American policymakers, Chilean president Salvador Allende undertook a massive experiment to impose socialism on the country. Overthrown and executed in a coup masterminded by the decidedly more troublesome Augusto Pinochet in 1973, Allende still ignites much political debate in South America. This documentary attempts to sort out the cloudy legacy. (4 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17, at Avalon Island; $5);;
;Corto Circuito — Short Film Festival Comprising 50 short films made throughout the last 10 years, this program highlights some of the best and most forward-looking Latin American filmmaking, in bite-sized portions. (5:45 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, at Avalon Island; $10);;
;Barrio Boys Too many great film ideas get squashed by someone along the way who decides, "That's way too stupid." Not Barrio Boys. A former member of Menudo figures the best way out of his current post-fame rut as a snow-cone salesman is to start a new act … an "Oi! Boy Band." Can you come up with a better (or more perfectly Orlando) film concept than that? No, you probably can't. The film's only a half-hour long, and the filmmakers will have Puerto Rican snow cones (piraguas) on offer. (10:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, at Avalon Island; free); [email protected]