The Gainesville Latino Film Festival kicked off its 10th anniversary Friday with a night of commemorating all the individuals who helped make the event possible for so many years.
The festival runs until Oct. 14. and celebrates the works of Latinos in the entertainment industry with film screenings, folk art displays, a salsa concert and exhibits of Latin culture at several downtown venues including the Hippodrome State Theatre and The Wooly, at 20 N. Main St.
During the opening ceremony, the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts burst with laughter and chatter as a crowd of people from all ethnic backgrounds filled the auditorium.
A number of people were honored for their contributions to GLFF and the founder, Victoria Condor-Williams, gave a speech celebrating the 10 years the festival has been active in the Gainesville community.
“I thought that this medium of the art and the cinema can bring an understanding of our community and the awareness of different kinds of challenges that the Latino community face here in the United States,” she said.
Eric Segal, education curator of academic programs at the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, which is hosting four different film screenings, said the genre of film does not correlate with its screening location, but the museum tried to connect the exhibits and the festival. He said they made special exhibitions to celebrate the anniversary.
“We have about a half dozen works of Latin American art, and we have a larger exhibit on the Kuna people from Panama,” he said
Rosy Padron, a volunteer at UF’s Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, said she, as a Latina, feels that the events are more of an introduction to the culture for non-Latinos.
However, the 20-year-old UF history sophomore said she believes that spreading the Latin culture in Gainesville is important.
“It’s crazy to think that it is even happening in Gainesville, and it is the 10th year,” Padron said. “So it is cool that it is becoming a tradition.”
Vice president of the Latina Women’s League Victoria Gomez de la Torre shared the goals of GLFF and the message the organization hopes to leave with people who attend the festival.
“Each one of us from each different country that we come from has many different individual identities that we bring with us,” Gomez de la Torre said. “The best way to give that out to the community is by bringing our movies.”
[A version of this story ran on page 5 on 9/18/2014 under the headline "Latino Film Festival celebrates 10 years with art exhibits, salsa concert"]
A spoken word artist performs during UF’s Hispanic Heritage Month Opening Ceremony on Wednesday in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom.