My, how CineFest Nuestra America has grown, from small campus event to communitywide celebration. At the end of CineFest 2000, curator Ray Santisteban, director of San Antonio's Cinefestival, ranked Madison's Latino film festival among the nation's top 10. And this one promises to be even bigger and better.
CineFest 2001, "Many Voices: Films of the Caribbean," brings together a batch of eye-opening works that reveal the complexity of island identities and the Caribbean diaspora that's part of our own changing demographic. Sponsored by a coalition of UW and community-based groups and curated by Santisteban and Jane Bryce of Barbados' University of the West Indies, this program sits at the crossroads of cultural experience.
The films screen Nov. 8-11 at the Majestic, the UW Memorial Union Play Circle and the UW Cinematheque at 4070 Vilas Hall. Here are a few highlights:
La Fonda Azul/The Blue Diner (Majestic, Nov. 8, 7 p.m., $5) kicks off the festival with a look at the Caribbean diaspora in Boston. Featuring Miriam ColÃn, Lisa Vidal, JosÃ Yenque and William Marquez, this bilingual flick set in a Puerto Rican/Cuban community axes all the stereotypes. Women and men are equals, and there's not a shred of violence.
Cuban American Juan Carlos ZaldÃvar's 90 Millas (Play Circle, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, free) is a sensitive portrait of the filmmaker's family and their love-hate relationship with Fidel's isla rebelde, which they left during the 1980 Mariel boatlift. ZaldÃvar will appear in person.
I haven't seen Cuban filmmaker Juan Carlos TabÃo's Lista de Espera (Cinematheque, Sunday, 7:30, free), but his other films (Guantanamera, the hilarious Se Permuta and the hit Strawberry & Chocolate) capture the essence of la vida cubana. TabÃo is invited to appear.
Caribbeing (Play Circle, Saturday, 5 p.m., free) is a string of lush, experimental, painterly shorts by visionary filmmaker Robert Yao Ramesar that reveal the kaleidoscope heritage of Trinidad and Tobago. Ramesar, whose mystique piques the interest of U.S. indie film critics, will attend the screening.
Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask (Cinematheque, Sunday, 5 p.m., free) is Isaac Julien's beautifully crafted bio of the intellectual psychiatrist from Martinique who joined the Algerian liberation front and penned The Wretched of the Earth, the bible of black liberation in the 1960s. The film is especially relevant today for its deconstruction of Fanon's romanticized conflation of armed struggle and fundamentalism in Arab-Moslem culture.
Life and Debt (Majestic, Friday, 7 p.m., $5) is a stunning exposÃ of economic colonialism, the International Monetary Fund and the nitty-gritty of global market machinations in Jamaica. I strongly urge our national leaders to screen Stephanie Black's documentary in the War Room before working up any kind of post-Taliban "Marshall Plan" ' it shows exactly what not to do if we want to build healthy world trade relations that won't backfire a few years down the road.
Sound great? There's lots more. For the full CineFest schedule and info on other Caribbean cultural programs in town this year, check out the Web site of the UW Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program: http://polyglot.lss.wisc.edu/lacis.