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Festival of Ibero American Cinema in New Haven Includes Tribute to Raul Julia

Oct 20, 2014

A showcase of the latest work by Hispanic, Portuguese, and Latino filmmakers opens Tuesday in New Haven: the New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema. There will be screenings and events featuring many of the visiting filmmakers. Everything is free and open to the public.

Raul Julia and Julie Carmen in "The Penitent."

There’s also a special tribute planned to honor the legacy of the great Puerto-Rican-born actor Raul Julia, with a panel discussion and screening of a film called "The Penitent."  

"The festival is six days of films," said publicity director Jane Mills. "Feature films, comedies, documentaries, shorts -- they all have English subtitles. Many of the directors and filmmakers will be visiting us and available to the audience."

The festival includes directors and filmmakers from Spain, Portugal, and most of Latin America, Mills said, including Cuba, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia.

New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema in New Haven.
Credit nefiac.com

Mills said the opening night film is a huge hit in Cuba, and is the country's submission for the Goya Award and the Oscars. It's a feature/drama called "Conducta," or "Behavior" in English. "It sold out at the Miami Film Festival -- completely sold out, at $50.00 a head -- and they had to create a new screening day for it, it's so popular," Mills said.

The closing night film -- another Oscar submission, this one from Peru -- is called "Gospel of the Flesh." Mills described it as a character study. "It’s the kind of feature/drama I love of three lives that intersect on the streets of Lima, Peru," she said, "all in search of redemption of some kind."

One of the highlights of this year's festival is a tribute to the great actor Raul Julia, who stars in the film "The Penitent" along with actress Julie Carmen and two other main actors. WNPR's Diane Orson spoke with Carmen.

Diane Orson: When we were communicating before this conversation, you said that you first saw Raul Julia perform in New York. He was one of the actors who set the bar for you, who made you aspire to act. What was it about this actor that was so compelling?

Julie Carmen: Well, he’s one the first people that I saw perform Shakespeare in a totally palatable way, where I really understood what the character was saying, and what the story was about. He’s one of the first, certainly of Latino actors, other than Jose Ferrer… Raul Julia and Jose Ferrer both were on film doing Shakespeare and some of the classics and both of them were hugely inspiring to me.

I wonder if we could talk about the influence of Raul Julia’s work and life on Latino film and theater.

Yes, of course. Raul played some of the huge heroes of the 20th century. He loved the role of Chico Mendez who was the rubber tapper in the Amazon who fought for union rights. For that film posthumously, he won the SAG Award, the Cable Ace Award, the Golden Globe and the Emmy. He also played Father Romero who was a human rights activist in El Salvador, and that film wasn’t even seen in El Salvador. So he brought to screen some of these heroes of the civil rights and human rights movement of the 20th century. He also, along with his wife Merel Julia, and Felix Sanchez, co-created the National Hispanic Foundation of the Arts, and The Julliard School has a scholarship in Raul’s name. So I think that there are 40 awards currently in Raul’s name.