By Matt Cosper
March 2, 2020
Charlotte’s cinema scene hit the ground running this year, and one of the more exciting developments is the Cine Casual Film Series, an event series highlighting Latin American films through April. While Charlotte’s population grows ever more diverse, the monoculture sadly still reigns supreme, which can make it hard for grassroots arts projects to get the attention. Smaller art house films can struggle to find distribution, so it’s often even harder for excellent films from other parts of the world to wind up on local screens. Films such as Candelaria, which won the Director’s Award at the Venice Film Festival in 2017, or Las Vegas, a selection at Cannes, are worthy contributions to the global cinematic conversation.
After arriving in Charlotte in 2015, Giovanna Torres started Cine Casual, an online outlet for Latin American film enthusiasts.
“Growing up in Puerto Rico, my parents used to take me to the movies all the time. I enjoyed films in general, but it wasn’t until I watched a Pedro Almodovar film in my high school years that I actually felt passionate about it. I couldn’t believe the quality of the films, diversity of stories, range of styles and refreshing perspectives that I had been missing out on,” said Torres.
It was this passion for film that pushed Torres and her partner Alex Piñeres to start the Cine Casual Film Series, a project that earned a Celebrate Charlotte Arts grant from the Knight Foundation last year.
Torres’ goals for the festival are to build community, start conversations, and share cultural experiences. “We all deserve to have our stories heard and seen. It might not seem like a big deal, but seeing someone that looks like you on screen can have a profound impact on your life and your future. We saw a great example of this not too long ago when Black Panther and Wonder Woman were released,” said Torres.
The series began in January with Colombian drama Matar a Jesus, screened at Camp Northend’s Boiler Yard. That was followed up by a two-night engagement of Mexican film, The Chambermaid, at eastside culture hub Visart Video, and the Cuban film Candelaria, back at Camp Northend. The first three events have sold out, so it seems like Charlotte audiences are ready for a more diverse and adventurous film experience in the city.
The remaining three screenings in the series will continue with Las Vegas, this Saturday, March 7. After the series wraps in early April, the film deemed Audience Award winner will receive a special screening at this year’s BOOM Festival on the weekend of April 17. All screenings are followed by panel discussions featuring local artists and community leaders making connections between the films and issues connected to Charlotte.
The Cine Casual Film Series seems like a no-brainer for cinephiles, Latinx Charlotteans, or people who are interested in learning about different cultural perspectives. Tickets are $5 a pop, so there really isn’t an excuse to miss these exciting films if you can score a seat.
Las Vegas – ACID Selection at the Cannes Film Festival
Saturday, March 7 (6 p.m.) at Camp North End
El despertar de las hormigas (The Awakening of the Ants) – Costa Rica’s 2020 Oscar Submission
Saturday, March 21 (6 p.m.) at Camp North End
Temblores (Tremors) – Best Latin American Film, San Sebastian Film Festival
Saturday, April 4 (6 p.m.) at Camp North End