Dominican Film Festival in New York

10/03/2011 at 1:45 pm Leave a comment

Whether your cinematic impulses run to dramatic documentary or to social comedy, you will find yourself surrounded by an abundant selection for your viewing pleasure this coming week as the first ever Dominican Film Festival of New York (DFFNY) arrives at Coliseum Cinemas on W. 181st Street and Broadway. The festival begins Thu., March 10 and runs through Thu., March 17.

Take your pick: there are urban, gritty English-language dramas filmed here in New York City, as well as comedies entirely in Spanish filmed in the Dominican Republic.

As principal organizer of the Film Festival, Armando Guareño is excited about the diverse line-up of films, and about bringing them all to el alto Manhattan.

“This is the heart of the Dominican community, and it is here [precisely] that we need these types of cultural events, that are not merely about entertainment but education as well,” he explains.

Guareño has worked diligently, along with a selection committee that includes the festival’s executive manager and his sister, Evelin, to bring the Festival to life. They have chosen films with broad themes and cultural resonance that speak to all audiences, whether they are Dominican or not.

“The festival is about creating a meeting point for those passionate [about] cinema, to introduce the work of new producers and [also reinforce] those already established.”

He counts himself as someone who is passionate about cinema: “Con el cine, me siento identificado conmigo mismo…desde cuando era niño [Since I was young, within film, I truly feel myself,]” he says.

And Guareño has experience, having served as a veteran of many such film festivals worldwide including Festival del Nueva Cine Latinoamericano in Cuba, the Mañana Film Festival in Poland; the Ojo Cojo in Spain, the Muestra de Cine Documental in Colombia and Panama, and The New York Latino International Film Festival in New York, among others. Even as he puts the final touches on this week-long festival of Dominican films, Guareño is also working hard on the fall season’s 3rd Annual KidCinemaFest, the Washington Heights’ Children and Young People’s Film Festival, of which he is founder.

But he is especially enthusiastic about the moment that Dominican cinema is experiencing right now, saying: “It is prolific, the work, and it is being internationally recognized.”

He points to the Festival’s opening night selection, “Hermafrodita” from producer Albert Xavier, as an example of the rising profile of Dominican cinema.

Based on a true story, “Hermafrodita” is about Maria, a young woman who is born a hermaphrodite in the small town of San José de Ocoa in the Dominican Republic. Tired of the constant scrutiny she suffers as she begins to develop ever more distinct masculine physical traits, Maria flees to the capital city of Santo Domingo in the hopes of finding a new life. There, she falls in love with a young man who is tormented by his own demons, as he searches for the men who murdered his brother. Despite their troubles, the two embark on a tender romance that is marked with secrecy, primarily Maria’s, as she continues to hide the truth about her dual sexuality. The arrival of her friend Wanda, and the stirring of feelings her presence provokes, only add to the tensions that threaten to unravel the couple’s fragile happiness.

It is a film about taboos, conflict, and love, themes that are accessible to all, notes Guareño.

“And it also happens to the most-seen Dominican film in the world,” he notes, as it has traveled the world and be screened in over 20 film festivals since its debut in 2010.

“Es hora [It’s time],” he says, of shining a spotlight on an industry that spans countries, languages and cultures.

For more information and show times for the First Dominican Film Festival of New York, starting Thu., March 10 and running through Thu., March 17 at Coliseum Cinemas on W. 181st Street, visit or call 001 212.740.1545.

Source: Manhattan Times




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