November 8 kicks off the 7th Annual International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival (IPRHFF) in several locations across New York. While the island remains very much still devastated by Hurricane Maria, the films showcased are giving a much needed spotlight to the island’s artistic achievements and helping to foster strength to face whatever lies ahead.
Perhaps the best example of Puerto Rican pride will come on opening night at the Cinepolis Theater in Chelsea. Jacobo Morales, who is said by some to be the greatest Puerto Rican filmmakers of all time, will receive a lifetime achievement award. His 1989 film, Lo que le pasó a Santiago, is the only Puerto Rican film to have received an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. And his latest work—Broche de oro: comienzos—will premiere that same night. It’s a happy-go-lucky film where a group of friends from a nursing home orchestrate an escape to participate in a contest—and the beautiful Puerto Rican landscape is as much of a character as the trio of residents who escape. The island imagery features a brighter Puerto Rico than what we’ve been seeing in the news, and is a powerful depiction of hope for the future in the post Maria rebuilding efforts.
And things are just getting started with Morales’ feature. Whether you’re into spy assassin thrillers, unanticipated coming out stories, or the role that puppets have played in Puerto Rican theater, this festival has it all. And while gun wielding spy dramas aren’t always my jam, Midnight Sun stars none other than Pedro Capó, and I know that he will be able to captivate me on the big screen even if the story itself doesn’t.
This year’s festival also offers a twist—Thursday’s festivities are dedicated entirely to the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema. It was planned prior to Mexico’s devastating earthquake in September, but pairs well with the Puerto Rican features to help uplift Mexico’s afflicted people as well. Screening four 1940s features, check out powerful performances from the Queens of the Golden Age—Dolores del Rio and Maria Felix. Head to Teatro SEA on the Lower East Side on Thursday, November 9 where you can check out all four films for free!
The IPRHFF is based in New York City and is a 501(c)3 non-profit that supports Puerto Rican communities in New York as well in Puerto Rico itself. Any proceeds from tickets you purchase will support these communities, so don’t miss out on the festivities from November 8 through 12.