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The Reel Queens: New film fest unites Spanish-speakers at Queens Museum

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The Queens Museum of Art will host the first annual New York Iberoamerican Film Festival, where attendees will be able to meet with Spanish-speaking members of the film industry and watch two films that highlight Iberoamerican cultural identity.

The free event will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. July 24 at the Queens Museum of Art, which is located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Iberoamerican culture hails from nations in the Americas that were formerly colonies of Spain or Portugal. The museum’s event will focus on the cultures of Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela and the United States.

“It’s a networking event for people to connect with filmmakers, directors and actors,” said Gabriel Roldos, who programmed the event for the museum. “It’s a good opportunity for whoever is interested in getting involved in film to meet some people.”

A number of actors of Iberoamerican heritage will attend the event, including Venezuelan telenovela star Gaby Spanic, Mexican actor and producer Paulo Cesar Quevedo, Telemundo telenovela actress Cindy Luna and Alejandra Pinzon, who stars in the Spanish-language television show “Madre Luna” on Telemundo.

Several other high-profile celebrities, including Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and John Leguizamo, have been invited to the festival but have not confirmed their attendance, Roldos said.

The event will roll out the red carpet and kick off with a cocktail reception.

Two films, one documentary feature and one short, on Iberoamerican culture will screen during the festival.

Documentarian Joe Berlinger (“Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills”) will screen the 2009 film “Crude.”

“It’s a film about the exploitation of oil in the land of Ecuador, where it becomes a conflict of interest between the community who lives in that location and the economics of the country,” Roldos said.

The documentary, which screened as part of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, follows the story of a group of Ecuadorians who filed a lawsuit that accuses Chevron of contaminating a section of the Amazon.

The film has been the subject of recent controversy after Berlinger was ordered to turn over 600 hours of footage from his film to Chevron Corp. An amicus brief was filed last month by a group of documentary filmmakers and several other organizations in support of the director.

Attendees will be able to take part in a symposium on the film following its screening.

The evening’s second film will be “Taught to Hate,” a 27-minute drama by Ecuadorian-born James Garcia Sotomayor.

“It’s about hate crimes against Marcelo Lucero and Jose Sucuzhanay, who were beaten to death in Patchogue and Brooklyn because of racism,” Roldos said.

Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant, was stabbed to death in Patchogue, L.I., in November 2008. One month later, Sucuzhanay, an Ecuadorian, was killed in Brooklyn. The film, which debuted at last year’s Latino International Film Festival in Long Island, features Brandon Hannan, who played Vito Spatafore Jr. in “The Sopranos.”

The festival will also include previews of Iberoamerican-themed films that the museum will screen in the future.

For more information on the festival, visit its website at nyiberoamericanfilmfestival.com.

Read film reviews by Nathan Duke at criticalconditions.net.

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