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RAFAEL BARO The Cine Vivo interview

The Cine Vivo Perth Independent Latino Film Festival is in full swing, and has a few more weeks yet to go. Offering more than just films, the festival gives us a slice of food, music, art and cinema from all over Latin America. DAVID O’CONNELL spoke to Festival Director Rafael Baro about what was on offer, and the theme at the heart of this year’s festival.

So, walk us through what Cine Vivo has to offer…

We try to offer an experience across the senses. So each time we screen a film you have music performer, visual arts, Latin food, sometimes Q&A sessions with the directors. The experience is a cultural experience. Over the years we’ve been developing the festival’s identity but maintaining the community feeling. This festival started seven years ago in my garage, and grown since then, but maintained that sense of community.

Each night is a different country in Latin America. It’s about sharing the different cultures. We have a very diverse, multicultural audience, and only about 50% are Latin American.

Is there an overall theme this year?

Yes. This year is about human rights and migration, and all the short films are related to migration (the November 30 short film competition has entries from about 20 different countries). It is an opportunity as a festival to reflect on stories that are normally untold.

There’s been a couple of changes this year…

Our program has become a magazine, which is a luxury to put together. Here you’ll find articles and stories all talking about different aspects of migration, as well as telling stories about the migration crisis in Perth.

Also, for the first time the festival has expanded in the city. We now have multiple different venues, before we only had one. One is at Victoria Park (Telethon Community Cinemas Burswood) , also we have the Rooftop Movies in Northbridge, we have City Beach(which will be a free family day), and the Queens Building in the CBD.

What’s happening this weekend?

On Friday we will have a Chilean night with Jaar, The Lament of Images, about one of the most important living artists in the world (Alfredo Jaar). He makes art because he wants to understand the world and he doesn’t understand. It is about artistic freedom, and social issues in our time. The second night is a fiesta and it’s a Colombian black comedy, The Bribe of Heaven. The only comedy in the festival.

How do you decide on a film for the festival?

We spend about eight or nine months to select the films and finalize the program. It’s a long process, to define the main themes of the festival. It is like when you cook it takes time to find all the flavours and textures of the different ingredients.

We try to combine two things. We try to strive for the highest quality in terms of art, but we try to find relevant themes to the festival. We are also interested in giving voice to those that normally don’t have. We go far away from commercial films, and try and bring storytellers from different parts of the continent.

What is it about food, music, and film that makes them such a great introduction to a culture?

I think food’s one of the most fundamental cultural experiences of a human being. Music as well. It has a huge impact on people’s minds and hearts. The films bring the other stories. With new technology their is a generation of filmmakers that normally wouldn’t have access to these possibilities Brought a lot of new blood to the industry.

You also have a couple of exhibitions on as part of Cine Vivo, both the Juan Rulfo photography exhibition and the El Fantasma de Heredia poster exhibit…

At the beginning I wanted some pictures from film, and bit by but I wanted to curate the visual arts, look how it’s grown. Three years later we are now able to bring two different exhibitions, the photographic exhibition is the first time these images have been in Australia, and we are talking about a very important photographer from Mexico (Juan Rulfo is a major writer, translated to over 100 languages), it tells a story about the indigenous people from the 60s and 70s, before the rural exodus.

We try for the whole experience, all the senses, and reflect. And that is the purpose. We want to rediscover and connect. To bring back the refugee as a sister and a brother.

Certainly needed at this time. We seem to be seeing a lot of division, both nationally and globally…

And that’s the campaign of fear. They will come and take your work. Those things are lies. They want the opportunity to live, like you and l. These connections have shocked people. Watching a film from the perspective of a refugee has a huge power to reconnect. To put away fear, created by the media, the government, the politicians. Because you can identify and say that is your brother.

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