Los Angeles-based non-profit org Viva Tu Cine! plans to boost its distribution of Latino pics to 10 to 15 films this year, making it the largest Latino film program in the country.

Program began in L.A. in 2004 and is expanding to New York and other key U.S. markets from May 5.

“Our main focus is not box office results (although important), but rather achieving awareness about Latino film and creating access to the best films for the Latino community in local theaters,” said founder Joshua Gabel of Casa Nova Films. The program hopes to bring approximately one first-run Latino film per month to theaters in Latino-dominant neighborhoods over the next year.

Org sometimes re-releases pics handled by indie distribs, as it did with helmer Fabian Bielinsky’s SPC release “Nueve reinas” and Agustin Diaz Yanes’ “Bendito infierno” (Don’t Tempt Me) from First Look.

It also participates in marketing as it did with helmer Alejandro Lozano’s Televisa Cine release, “Matando cabos.” Box office revenues are reinvested in the program.

“We want to collaborate as much as possible with other distributors who are interested in developing the niche,” said Gabel.

Org has had the support of private sponsors including GM and AT&T as well as media support from U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision.

As part of its outreach to the community, Viva Tu Cine! works with cultural, governmental and Latino organizations. The program also uses print, radio and television advertising.

In New York, Viva Tu Cine! is pacting with non-profit Latino distrib, Cinema Tropical, which has released pics since 2001 and curates special series and retrospectives for theaters, institutions and film festivals.

Org has selected Natalia Almada’s docu “Al otro lado” (To the Other Side), a 2004 participant of the Tribeca All Access Connects program, to headline the Cinema Tropical Series at MOMA this month, before its broadcast on PBS in August.

Viva Tu Cine! has also started a $10,000 Latino Filmmaker Scholarship for visual arts students of Latino heritage.