Drama opens Latino pic fest

HOLLYWOOD — The ninth annual Los Angeles Latino Film Festival opens Friday at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood with the U.S. premiere of Spanish helmer Benito Zambrano’s drama “Habana Blues.”

Event wraps Oct. 30 with Brazilian Bruno Barreto’s romantic soccer comedy “O Casamento de Romeu e Julieta” (Romeo and Juliet Get Married).

Other fest premieres include Colombia’s entry to the foreign film Oscar derby, Ciro Guerra’s “La Sombra del Caminante”; Sergio Machado’s “Cidade Baixa” (Lower City), winner of the Brazilian feature prize at the recent Rio fest; and Chilean Silvio Ciaozzi’s comedy “Cachimba.”

In addition, a total of 52 shorts from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, France, Mexico, Peru, Spain and the U.S. will be presented over two days at CineSpace on Hollywood Boulevard.

Fest will bestow its annual Gabriel Figueroa “Gabi” lifetime achievement award upon Ricardo Montalban.

On Oct. 29, the fest will host a panel discussion on Brazilian cinema with helmers Barreto, Karim Ainouz (“Madame Sata”), UCLA head of Latin American studies Randal Johnson and “City of God” co-producer Don Ranvaud. L.A.-based Brazilian producer Deborah Calla will moderate. A screening of “Cidade Baixa” and cocktails follow.

Other Brazilian pics in the fest lineup include Sandra Werneck’s “Cazuza,” Jorge Furtado’s “Meu tio matou um cara” and Lucia Murat’s “Quase dois irmaos.” “Favela Rising,” the award-winning doc about Rio de Janeiro’s hilltop slums by Matt Mochary and Jeff Zimbalist, also screens.

Fest will be showcasing docs funded by the nonprofit org Latino Public Broadcasting.

“Though many of our Open Call winners have been presented at nearly all the major independent film festivals throughout the country, this is the first time we have been privileged to showcase  them as a group,” said LPB executive director Luca Bentivoglio.

LPB docus include “Recalling Orange County,” “Race Is the Place,” “Al otro lado,” “The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo” and “Mirror Dance.”

LPB also will hold a panel Saturday, in association with Independent Television Service, on funding for narrative and documentary films.

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