Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival: A festival devoted to inclusion beyond just ethnicity

Friday - Sunday, Apr. 5 - 7
Baxter  
As a person who has looked at the evolving but also emergent culture of our city, I can say without any reservation that our local Grand Rapids Latin American Film Festival (GRLAFF) has been presenting films that expand beyond the themes of LatinX, exploring aspects of living as it relates to everything from modern love to societal shifts related to place. 

And this year it appears they are on their way to continue to evolve that mission to be more than just a series rooted in Latinx films.

When GRLAFF arrives for their ninth series, they do so with a powerful, mission-driven series title of “Cinema Without Borders.”
 
Films that will be screened over the weekend will be from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, and Chile. 

What makes GRLAFF so powerful for our community is that many of these films will be followed by panel discussions led by local experts on many diverse themes brought to light in the films curated this year. 

In addition, GRLAFF 2019 will also revive a tradition started in prior seasons of showing a selection of award-winning short films from Argentina, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela on Saturday at noon in the main auditorium. 

To learn more about all the films being screened this year, click here.
 
Responding to the needs of our community as they ask for more family-friendly films comes a kids-focused series addition on Saturday and Sunday including the popular film, ”Lila's Book,” an animated movie from Colombia.

And since we do not see enough LGBTQ films screened in our city for our taste, we are excited to showcase GRLAFF this week since they have always sought to include marginalized voices of our community within their festival with films that touch on topics very relevant to our evolving community. The LGBTQ films being screened include: 

“A Fantastic Woman” (2018 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film)
“A Fantastic Woman,” a Chilean drama with English subtitles, is about a transsexual woman in the aftermath of the death of her lover, a prosperous and charming businessman. The film, which stars a transgender woman in the title role, won multiple international awards, including the 2018 Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film. The leading character's sexual identity puts her both under scrutiny and under siege as she negotiates her loss. This is a very powerful film that touches on contemporary themes of love but also inheritance. 
Trailer for "A Fantastic Woman"

“Chavela"
Beloved ranchera singer Chavela Vargas was larger than life: her music was transformative, her personality and sexual allure magnetic, and her life story, which included tales she told that may or may not have happened, added up to more than the sum of a life lived. A lesbian who dazzled fans and lovers alike, she was both myth and mythmaker. In the new documentary, “Chavela," directors Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi weave together Vargas’s performances, still photos, stock footage of the places she lived and frequented, and interviews with her friends, lovers, and contemporaries.
Trailer for "Chavela"

“The Heiresses”
A withdrawn, middle-aged gay woman slowly inches out of the shadows of her dissatisfaction as she's forced to navigate a life separated from her more outgoing partner of 30 years in Paraguayan writer-director Marcelo Martinessi's intimate first feature, “The Heiresses." Minor-key and subdued to a fault, the drama nonetheless builds emotional involvement by infinitesimal degrees through its acute observation of characters and social context and its ultra-naturalistic performances. 
Trailer for "The Heiresses" 
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