HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Latino Film Festival is back!
After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic - the sixth annual event kicked off Wednesday night in Midtown.
The festival features a diverse slate of more than 80 features and short films from around the world and right here in Houston.
The five-day event began with the opening of the art gallery called "Movidos"
"We very much wanted to come back to The Match and have an in-person theater and cinema experience, said Pedro Rivas, the co-founder and program director, who believes the festival will come back bigger than ever this year.
"In 2020, we had to cancel the festival one week before the event due to the pandemic. And then moved it over to 2021 but as drive-in theater setup," Rivas said.
Rivas said Wednesday night's art exhibition features four elegant pieces from Cuban artist and curator Aime Rosales who lives in Houston.
"This work is a collection of works of people she went to school with back in Cuba. It's kind of it's like the movement of the artwork that they started when they were students in school and the presentation of what they would have accomplished today," he said.
Over the next five days, patrons will get the first look at many of the feature films and documentaries from local filmmakers.
The festival is dedicated to developing, promoting and increasing the awareness of Latino culture among Latinos and other communities by presenting a variety of art and films to the Houston public.
Documentaries and film shorts from across the world including Latin America, Spain, Portugal, and the United States will be featured.
The films represent the rich diversity and genres of Latino filmmaking.
Rivas said audiences will also get to participate in workshops and discussions with the directors at the screenings
"It is so incredible to be back. It is so incredible to be able to show a film like this to a live audience," he said.
"Everybody working on this film behind the scenes is local Houston, and so this film is an effort of mine. It's an effort of also the students of Sam Houston State University in the Mass Communication department," said Wojciech Lorenc, a professor at Sam Houston State University and the director of the documentary "Fearless."
The film features a boxing gym in Conroe and depicts the challenges people of color and immigrants face when coming to the U.S.
Lorenc was born in Poland and has been in Houston for the last 20 years. He said as an immigrant he and his wife, Valentina Trevino, the producer of the film born in Mexico, were both connected to the project.
"'Fearless' is about the situation of Latinos in this country, and there is a very strong plot in the film, part of the film deals with immigration issues as well," Lorenc said.
He said the film, which took two years to complete and was delayed due to the pandemic, will hit the small screen Friday, March 25 at the festival
"We cannot wait to see people in the theater and experience that film the way that it's meant to be experienced - which is on a big screen in a movie in the film theater seats and really feeling intimate with characters on screen," he said.
Organizers said the art gallery is free and open to the public. To enjoy all the films listed you can purchase an All-Access Badge for $45.
Rivas hopes the films and artists featured during the event will be a learning experience that sparks interest in local aspiring Latino filmmakers and artists.
"You don't have to leave Houston to make films you can make them here right in your backyard where you live," Rivas said.
Houston Latino Film Festival is back after a two-year hiatus
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