It’s a little blue house with a white door, past a jungle of a courtyard behind a picket fence—the office of the Latin American film festival Cine Las Americas, which after 15 years is growing stronger than ever. Eugenio del Bosque greets me in his office, a small space covered in Cine posters that date back to 2003. His desk faces a wall covered in colorful pictures, concert tickets and hanging press passes, but he leads me to the conference room in the back, beyond the office noise and buzz.
The first thing del Bosque, the festival’s executive director, says is he speaks fluent Spanish, because he’s Mexican—half chilango (from Mexico City), half regio (from Monterrey). He studied communications at Tec de Monterrey, and worked as a film editor and producer for nine years when he stumbled upon a project called Cine Las Americas in Austin. He joined as a volunteer in 2002. “They sent me to represent the festival in the Havana Film Festival in Cuba. And that’s what changed my life. I came back full of ideas. I was just a volunteer, but I really wanted to do more,” del Bosque says.
He became the festival’s programmer the following year and its executive director in 2006, a position he’s held since then, and one he began with a passion. “Back then, the Latin American festival in Havana was the big monolith of Latin American film, that’s where everything happened,” he says. “To be honest, before, I was not in that loop. I mean, I came from Monterrey. Everything we saw was Hollywood, so it was a big eye-opener for me, a whole new world. And I figured, we can do it in Austin.”
Cine Las Americas—this year running from April 24-29—takes place in different venues around the city, such as Alamo Drafthouse, the Mexican American Cultural Center and St. Edward’s University. It brings in movies from South America, Spain, Mexico, the U.S. and beyond, all of which go through a selection committee. “We always get really excited about seeing these films. You go to other countries and see them, and get excited about bringing them back,” he says. “That was the thing that closed the circle for me, having been in Havana, where somebody recommended to go see something so I saw it, liked it, and fast forward six or seven months and we’re sitting at the Alamo Drafthouse watching that same movie.”
In 2011, Cine Las Americas had 2,700 attendees—filmmakers, producers, actors and viewers from Houston, San Antonio and Austin. “The Austin audience is very well educated,” del Bosque says. “It’s educated and sophisticated, but it’s laid back in its protocol.” It’s this audience that makes the best moments in the festival happen for del Bosque, whose favorite part of the job is that—sharing the films, and absorbing the reaction. “When you have someone presenting their movie, and an audience responding in a positive way, that’s priceless,” he says. “Because it can be kind of lonely; this is not a glamorous job. So only if those things are happening, then you are happening.”
There are several of those films that del Bosque can recall had a particularly strong reaction. He remembers a specific film, De Nadie, that left the audience in tears. “It was the first documentary to talk about the Central American experience of crossing Mexico. For the immigrants. And it was just, you know, terrible things to see. What was happening on the screen was so… it was a big reaction.”
Del Bosque’s excited for several things to come—both in this year’s Cine Las Americas, and the larger spectrum. The group is implementing a membership system, for example, as a fundraising strategy. Del Bosque also speaks of the programs that Cine Las Americas supports, such as BeatLab and Emergencia. The latter is a youth film program during the festival to celebrate filmmakers 19 years old and younger. This year, Emergencia is partnering with Cinema Ducan, an organization whose goal is to put youth films at the Cannes Film Festival. “It’s really a lot of fun,” he says. “This is made by youth, and these artists usually don’t have the preocupations that grown-ups do, so they have a very fresh voice. They’re very free to say what they want to say.”
It’s clear in del Bosque’s voice that he looks forward to Cine Las Americas 2012 as much as he looks forward to coming into the office every day, to his unglamorous and beloved job.
Cine las Americas films Del Bosque is excited for: