“There are 101 film festivals in this city,” says Sinara Rozo-Perdomo, executive director of Toronto’s aluCine Latin Film + Media Arts Festival. “And we were the 101st.” Rozo-Perdomo came to Toronto via Colombia and Venezuela in the early-’90s, and in 1995 co-founded the aluCine festival (the title puns on hallucination, or “mind-blowing”) with video artist Jorge Lozano.
At first, the festival was a weekend-only event held every two years, and Rozo-Perdomo supported herself as a babysitter, dog-walker and house-cleaner. Now it’s Canada’s largest Latin-American film festival, a 10-day event with more than 70 often cutting-edge works, lively parties, and the backing of all three levels of government. Between 2000 and 2007, Rozo-Perdomo took a break to have two children and get her MA in fine arts, then returned to head the festival, which she felt had become too experimental. She has since shifted it’s focus to include more popular fare. In keeping with this year’s Afro-Latin focus, the opening film is a Cannes entry, La Playa D.C., made by rising Colombian director Juan Andrés Arango, who trained in Canada and Netherlands. The hip-hop drama follows an apprentice barber struggling to make a living, and save his wayward brother, in the mean streets of Bogota.
The film portion of aluCine starts on March 27 and runs until March 31.