First annual LexLatino Film Festival

Gael Garcia Bernal stars in the documentary "Who is Dayani Cristal?" He also stars in "Rudo & Cursi." Both films are part of the LexLatino Film Festival. Photo by Kino Lorber.

Gael Garcia Bernal stars in the documentary “Who is Dayani Cristal?” He also stars in “Rudo & Cursi.” Both films are part of the LexLatino Film Festival. Photo by Kino Lorber.

For years, Dominic Martina attended the San Diego Latino Film Festival, a 10-day, 150-film event featuring movies from Latin America, Spain, South America and the United States.

“When I retired in Lexington last year, I realized there are 35,000 Latinos in Lexington,” he wrote, in a perfectly type-written letter. “Why not a smaller scale film fest for them and the whole community?”

Why not?

So, through the efforts of Martina, Kentucky Theatre manager Fred Mills and, no doubt, film booker Larry Thomas, we have the first annual LexLatino Film Fest, opening Thursday (Sept. 18) and running through Saturday in conjunction with the Festival Latino de Lexington. The event kicks off with the drama “Avenues” and will feature director Aaref Rodriguez and star Hector Atreyu Ruiz at the theater for an opening night reception.

Here’s the lineup with Martina’s descriptions:

“Avenues” (2013). The heartbreaking story of an East L.A. man attempting to reintegrate into his gang-centered neighborhood after a stint in prison.  7:40 p.m. Thurs., 9:30 p.m. Fri., 7:30 p.m. Sat.

“Who is Dayani Cristal?” (2014). Directed by Marc Silver, starring Gael Garcia Bernal. A young Central American immigrant disappears in the Arizona desert. The Tucson medical examiner attempts to discover his identity and find his family. 5 and 7 p.m. Fri.

“Rudo & Cursi” (2009). Directed by Carlos Cuaron, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.  Two poor, rural Mexican boys find fame as soccer stars in Mexico City and in the process trash their lives. With the irresistible duo of Gael and Diego (“Y Tu Mama Tambien”). 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Sat.

“Sombras de Azul” (2013). Directed by Kelly Daniela Norris, starring  Seedne Bujaidar, Yasmani Guerrero and Charlotta Mohlin. A young Mexican woman traverses Havana, Cuba, in the wake of her brother’s suicide trying to make sense of her grief. The film is a gorgeous representation of how memory and perspective merge together. 9:30 p.m. Thurs. and Sat.

Thursday’s reception will feature Latin American coffees from A Cup of Commonwealth and the closing night will include tastings of Oaxacan Mezcal and “assorted Mexican cervezas,” Martina wrote.

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