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Cinema Paradiso 

The sprawling International Latino Film Festival covers a lot of ground

Wednesday, Nov 10 2004
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The sprawling International Latino Film Festival covers a lot of ground: Among its 81 films, it's got everything from heartwarming coming-of-age stories to documentaries on hate crimes perpetrated against farmworkers. As such, it's everything a good film festival should be: broad-minded, representative, and unafraid. But we can't all be like that. In light of what we fear may be epidemic depression in the Bay Area following last week's elections, we're going to accentuate the positive.

Two evenings in particular might help with the desire to "go at your wrists with a dull butter knife" (as a friend recently described it). One film is called B-Happy. It's not a total upper -- 14-year-old Kathy's family is coming apart at the seams, and her father's in the slammer -- but her motto, "I'm not afraid of anything," buoys her. Romance arrives in the form of Chimo, a boy who does something very important: He reads to her from The Little Prince. If that doesn't make you say "Awww," see a doctor. Sharing the bill is KordaVision, a documentary discussion between some hot-shot photographers and one of their compelling subjects -- Fidel Castro. Alberto Diaz Korda, who took that famous photo of Che Guevara in a beret, is one of them.

The second screening includes two pieces as well: You're My Hero and Heaven. The former is, to be honest, another coming-of-age story, only this time it's a boy in Spain with a cool-sounding imaginary friend. But the latter is a documentary chronicling the lives of a group of musicians in Guantánamo, Cuba, a little town in the east near the U.S. Naval Base. Without money for more sophisticated stuff, the guys use blocks of wood and plastic bottles for instruments. Their situation ain't great, but the sounds they make are alive and kicking, a mix of hip hop and Cuba's traditional Changui. People surviving adversity with grace and joy? Yes, please.

About The Author

Hiya Swanhuyser

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