The Texas capital city has a reputation for independent filmmaking and for hosting festivals. But in the late 1990s, some film enthusiasts realized something was missing, and they set about to fill that hole.
Over the past 25 years, the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival has undergone iterations and location changes, but its mission has stayed very much the same: Showcase movies told by and about Latinos and Indigenous peoples across the Americas.
This year’s festival kicks off today in Austin, and San Antonio-based filmmaker Alex Ramirez will be there with his latest short film, “A Life in Technicolor.” He joined the Texas Standard to talk about the festival, his film and the future for Latinos in cinema.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity:
Texas Standard: As a Mexican-American filmmaker based in San Antonio, how long has the Cine Las Americas Festival been on your radar?
Alex Ramirez: Yeah, it’s been on my radar for quite a while. I’ve known about it for the past 10 years, ever since I’ve started filmmaking. It’s a real honor to screen at this prestigious film festival.
I know that representation of Latinos in Hollywood has become a bigger focus, certainly in the media of late. How does Cine Las America sort of fit into that conversation?
Yeah, I think they are screening and programing material that is very vital to our community. It really explores what it means to be Mexican-American, to be Latinx, to be Latino, Latina here in our contemporary world in a very powerful way. So it feels great to be amongst these filmmakers and this work.
Your new film, “A Life in Technicolor,” takes place during the coronavirus lockdowns. Your main character is a woman who loves old movies – and is it giving away too much to say that little by little, her world loses color?
No, no, not at all. I mean, it’s built into the title. It’s a piece of work, you know, that really came out of that feeling I’m sure that we all were feeling in the coronavirus pandemic, feeling trapped and maybe just personally needing more color in my life.