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Arts & Life

Des Moines To Host Iowa's First Latino Film Festival

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Luis Leon, the board chair of the Latino Center of Iowa, announced on Tuesday Iowa will have its first-ever Latino Film Festival this summer. "We hope that the festival will provide sustainable funding, he said. "And build capacity to help us increase our Latino Center programs, as well as eventually establish a physical center."

Des Moines will host Iowa’s first-ever Latino film festival this summer. The free event will feature international Latino films as well as local Latino filmmakers.

The film festival was originally planned for the spring of 2020, but the pandemic forced the host Latino Center of Iowa to postpone it to this June 18-20.

It will be free to attend in person at the newly completed Riverview Park Amphitheater in Des Moines and/or watch the films virtually. Luis Leon, the board chair of the Latino Center of Iowa, said the film festival will be one of the first events at that venue.

"Basically our primary goal of the festival is to celebrate the rich and diverse culture as well as raise awareness of our Latino communities here in central Iowa," Leon said.

Any funds, grants and donations will go toward helping the Latino Center build a physical location. The Latino Center received one grant from the arts division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.

"We were so proud to award the Des Moines Latino Film Festival with an arts project grant this year in recognition of its goals of increasing awareness of the rich Latino culture and enriching the cultural community of Central Iowa," the administrator of the awards council David Smith said.

The Center also partnered with the Chicago Latino Film festival to feature four international Latino films and also with local Latino advocacy groups to find local filmmakers.

"We had planned to do this film festival April of 2020. We had four local Latino filmmakers identified for that event. Those four filmmakers are still going to be on the docket for this year," Leon explained.

Along with the films, the festival will also have street dancers, food vendors and other activities.

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Jay Byers serves as the president and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. "Over the years, there have been a number of other film festivals which have added to the cultural fabric of our region and our state. And now, as we look to the future, our region and state will have a Latino Film Festival," he said at the announcement Tuesday.

Jay Byers, a self-proclaimed film fan, is the president and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. He said by hosting its first-ever Latino Film Festival, Iowa will also gain another benefit.

“This inclusive event will help our region attract and retain diverse talent and attract more visitors will also help us show the world that the DSM region is a welcoming place for all," Byers said.

The Latino Center of Iowa is currently working on arranging interactive events with the local Latino filmmakers. They are also looking for more donations and sponsors.