‘Pride" tends to be one of those condescending code words for any event that combines minorities with a good time. But this year, the term holds special meaning for the Orlando Hispanic Film Festival, now in its third year, because they have finally been embraced by a proper venue.
Packing their things and moving from the Orlando Public Library over to the newly opened, Buddy Dyer—approved Plaza Cinema Café in downtown Orlando — the one with the leather seats and terrifyingly narrow parking garage — OHFF is sitting pretty.
Even more pride can be found in this year's documentary selection, most of which feature fascinating, little-known tales of Hispanic history. There's the PBS documentary The Borinqueneers, about the only all-Hispanic unit in the history of the U.S. Army; Bracero Stories, a chronicle of the Mexican laborers brought into the country by the American government from the '40s through the '60s to build up an agricultural industry that would later demonize them; and Soy Andina, about a New York dancer who travels back to her Peruvian roots.
The dramatic features are more hit-and-miss, to put it kindly. Ranging from cringe-worthy, student-film-esque crime dramas (The Boys of Ghost Town) to the surrealistically pointless (Morenita), from micro-budget but endearing teen romances (Becoming Eduardo) to touching familial dramas (Salud), there's something for everyone, or maybe just for the filmmakers' friends.
As with Florida Film Festival's Jon Voight night, pride goes out the window for a glimpse of "celebrity." Thursday night's screening of Caught features a guest appearance from mildly known actress María Conchita Alonso, who last year allowed Fox News to show interest in her when she parroted Joe the Plumber ("`Obama` wants to spread the wealth!"). Classy one, that María.
Despite some missteps, this third edition of OHFF promises to be a step up in quality and a continuation of the important role the fest plays year-round in exposing Hispanic filmmaking.[email protected]