OGDEN — It’s just a small film festival this year. But Cirilo Franco is hoping for big things in the future.
Ogden City’s First Latino Short Film Festival will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16, at Brewvies Ogden, the cinema pub at 2293 Grant Ave. A DJ will play music in the lobby at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free.
Franco is part of a group called Americans Coming Together for Immigrants in Ogden and Nationwide (ACTION), and while the idea of a Latino film festival has been floated in the past, it never quite came together — until this year. However, it was only in the last month or two they decided to pull that trigger.
“It’s been a bit of a struggle; we only had five weeks to organize it,” Franco said. “And unfortunately, at this point we won’t have any films from locals — which we were really wanting to promote — but we just haven’t had much success.”
Franco said this first festival will offer a range of genres and topics.
“We’ll have a variety of films, from comedy to documentaries,” he said. “So I think there’s a little bit of everything for everybody.”
Franco said this year’s festival will feature between eight and 10 films, some in English, others in Spanish with English subtitles. Among the shorts being screened will be “America, Our Home,” a six-minute film about Latino patriotism created by the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Carlos Garza’s “Ni-Ni,” a 20-minute film about a lonely street thug yearning for a better life after he bumps into a girl from his past and remembers the boy he used to be; and Carolina Corral’s 17-minute “Semillas de Guamuchil,” a documentary about five women who discover creative writing in prison and share their poetry in freedom.
One of the most important films that will be shown at the festival, according to Franco, is “DACAmented.” The 36-minute 2017 documentary by St. Clair Detrick-Jules follows the lives of nine DACA recipients living in the United States and pondering a future in limbo by recent government decisions.
“That’s the most important one, because we are an organization focused on the immigration community, along with the Latino community,” Franco said.
One of the drawbacks to this year’s festival is that Brewvies Ogden only has 72 seats, available on a first-come, first-served basis. Franco said there are a few reserved tickets, available through eventbrite.com.
“But if we get more than that at the festival, we’ll have to turn people away,” he said.
Another drawback, according to Franco, is that Brewvies is an age-21-and-older venue — which curtails who can see the films. As a result, they may seek a different venue in the future to open up the festival to all.
“Maybe next year we can incorporate more of a family environment,” he said.
However, Franco also hastens to add that Brewvies has been extremely supportive of bringing Spanish-language films to Ogden, suggesting working with ACTION to bring more of the films to the community. Franco says they hope to partner with Brewvies in the future.
“I think that would be important, because I don’t think there’s a theater anywhere in Utah that showcases Spanish films,” he said.
Franco says he’s not a filmmaker, or even in the film industry, but one of the big frustrations for him is that there isn’t a lot of focus on Latino arts in the Ogden community. He says he and others are working to get a seat at the table for the Latino community.
“We need people to understand that when decision makers in this city make decisions about art, there’s a community out here whose needs are just not being met,” Franco said.