I feel so incredibly fortunate to live in Austin.

Next week the 16th Cine Las Americas Film Festival will present more than 100 feature and short films in theaters throughout Austin.  Their director, Eugenio del Bosque, reached out to us because they heard about our upcoming FlamencoAustin show at the Long Center on May 16th that features 4 amazing flamenco players from Spain.  And it turns out the opening film of their festival, on Tuesday night at the Stateside Theater, is a marvelous silent film, called Blancanieves, also from Spain!

So they asked us to come out and provide some music Tuesday night for their opening reception following the screening!

Over the past 15 years, Cine Las Americas has presented more than 1,400 films at its festival and at various screenings across the state of Texas, becoming one of the most prestigious of Latino film events in the country. It continues to expand its programming, bringing free screenings to cultural centers and universities, special advance premieres, and other screenings in partnership with other local film festivals and organizations.  I so encourage you to get to know Cine Las Americas!

I asked Eugenio to tell me a bit more about his organization and vision, and thought I’d share some of his insights with you.

Matthew Hinsley: Tell me about this year’s festival – about which films are you most excited?

Eugenio del Bosque: The 16th Cine Las Americas International Film Festival runs April 16-21, 2013. This year’s lineup presents 56 features and 66 short films from 29 different countries. These films are by or about Latinos and indigenous groups of the Americas, including Spain and Portugal, and range from independent and big budget features, to documentaries and short films.

Of course we are excited about Blancanieves because it is our Opening Night film and we have been tracking it down for a long time. So it’s great to be able to show it and to partner with the Austin Classical Guitar Society for the reception after the screening.

I’m most excited about all of the films. It is unfair to highlight some films on top of others, especially because there are films in competition. All of the films in competition are exciting because they are brand new independent movies that people would otherwise not get to see in Austin, or the US for that matter. On top of that there are the New Releases. These are films that may see some kind of commercial release in the US, but they are mostly from well-established directors, or films that have been awarded at film festivals around the world. Generally the quality of this section of the program is very high.

Another section of the program is Panorama, and this includes both narrative and feature films. For one reason or another those films have not been able to be included in competition section, but they still have a high degree of merit and we really work to raise the profile of films in the Panorama section.

MH: How can people get involved?

EdB: Screenings take place in Austin at the Stateside Theatre in downtown, Alamo Drafthouse Village, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC), and St. Edward’s University.  All shows at both the MACC and St. Edwards are completely free and open to the public. We offer free shows at these locations as community screenings, which is something that we not only do during the festival, but it’s actually an extension of our community screenings that we offer seasonally throughout the entire year. Cine Las Americas is the only film festival in Austin that does this – a full 30% of our program is free.

For the rest of festival, audience members can attend by either purchasing individual tickets to shows at the Alamo Village and Stateside Theatre OR get an all-access Festival Pass for only $80. If you plan on attending multiple shows, the Festival Pass is really the best deal, and it gives full access to the film festival events, including screenings and special events.

The best way to begin getting involved is by visiting our website, and browsing the schedule, our list of films, and watching trailers to films. Film Festival Passes can be purchased online at our website. Last but not least, all films are also subtitled in English, so everyone who attends can enjoy them!

MH: What do you love about film?

EdB: I guess the collaborative aspect of it, which also has to do with the film festival. You can talk about auteur film and you can talk about the directors that have unique voices but film by nature is a collaborative effort. There is no making film by yourself, and I like that.

MH: Why is it important to share the work of filmmakers from around the world?

EdB: Because if we don’t, most of these films will not be seen, especially on the big screen. Also I think film, especially with a lineup like ours, offers cultural diversity and artistic excellence. These films can bring vitality to the cultural life of a place, including to a city like Austin, and just by exposing people to other cultures, they can offer things like open-mindedness and tolerance.

MH: Is there anything else you’d like to add, anything else you wish everyone knew about Cine Las Americas?

EdB: Every film that we show is subtitled in English, so it is for everybody. People should know that they can buy all-access passes but you can also buy individual tickets at the box office. Even better, we offer a new membership program that is designed to provide sustainability and foundation to Cine Las Americas. We are a non-profit organization. By becoming a member the Austin community has an opportunity to get directly involved in our programs, by supporting our programs and our mission. Also, 1/3 of our program is offered for free. So yes you can buy passes or buy tickets, but by becoming a member you are also supporting the programming that we offer to the community for free, and there is no other film festival in Austin that does that. And now is the perfect time to do it!