New Mexico has long been home to a host of film festivals. And fall is more or less film festival season in these here parts. The New Mexico Asian Film Festival, Albuquerque Film and Music Experience, Mindfield Film Festival, Madrid Film Festival, ¡Globalquerque! International Cinema Series and the Santa Fe International Film Festival are just a few of the events hitting area venues this time of year. While countless others have come and gone, the Cine Magnifico Latino Film Festival is getting ready to join the film-loving crowd and celebrate its 10th anniversary.
A “personal project” of the Instituto Cervantes in Albuquerque, Cine Magnifico “originally came to life with a very specific objective: to make the best Latino cinema available to the community of Albuquerque in general, and to the lovers of the seventh art in particular.” This year Cine Magnífico returns to its traditional month of celebration and extends its dates over two weeks in which audiences will be able to enjoy 20 films made in, by or about a variety of Latin countries—from Spain to Peru. The films—most of them New Mexico premieres—will be shown at the National Hispanic Cultural Center (September 13, 14 and 24), Guild Cinema (September 17) and the historic KiMo Theatre (September 23 to 25). In addition, the festival extends all the way down to our neighbors in El Paso with two special screenings at Southwest University on September 15 and 29.
The festival begins on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at the NHCC’s Bank of America Theater with a free public screening of 1971’s The Last Movie. The legendarily troubled counterculture cult film was directed by local legend Dennis Hopper and snagged an award at the Venice Film Festival, but is rarely seen by audiences. It was shot in Peru and edited (for six drug-fueled months) in Taos, NM. Viewers who catch the film at 5pm are encouraged to stick around until 6:45pm when they can discover more secrets about the legendary director of Easy Rider thanks to journalist Fietta Jarque, author of Where Dennis Hopper Lost the Poncho. Jarque is traveling all the way from Peru to discuss her book and to talk about the making of the self-reflexive film—which centers on an American horse wrangler (Hopper) who stays behind after a film shoot wraps up in Peru to witness how the production has corrupted locals.
Another of this year’s guests is director Óscar Aibar. With the Spanish writer/director, Cine Magnifico inaugurates its main program of the festival on September 23 at the newly renovated KiMo Theatre. Starting at 3pm, the festival screens Aibar’s 2021 feature El Sustituto/The Replacement. Considered one of the most valued films of recent Spanish cinema, El Sustituto is considered “a curious and sinister story about former Nazi officer refugees on the most touristic coast of Spain.” With a degree in Fine Arts and a decade of experience as a comic book writer, Aibar has also developed a solid career as a film and television director with features such as El Bosque, Platillos Volantes and El Gran Vázquez and serialized comedy-dramas such as “Cuéntame,” one of the longest-running and highest-rated series on Spanish television. Following a post-film Q&A, Aibar will be the special guest at a welcome cocktail party in the KiMo lobby.
In addition to exposing audiences to a wealth of contemporary international features, supporting the local cinema of New Mexico filmmakers is important to the organizers of Cine Magnifico as well. To those ends, they’re dedicating an entire day (Sunday, Sept. 25) to showcasing the creativity of audiovisual creators from within our state. A selection of New Mexico-made short films gets underway at 3pm at KiMo. That’s topped off at 5:20pm by a round table discussion with filmmakers Erica Nguyen and Erik Sanchez, who will talk with Shelle Sanchez, director of Arts & Culture of the City of Albuquerque, and Milly Castañeda-Ledwith, founder of the Cine Magnifico Festival.
For a complete schedule of films and events at this year’s Cine Magnifical Latino Film Festival (Sept. 13 through 25), go to cinemagnifico.com. Some of the screenings are free. Others require tickets (either $5 or $10, depending on the film).