Latin culture highlighted at Filadelphia film fest

“Pelo Malo” is about much more than having a bad hair day.
Credit: Provided

Get ready to have a “Bad Hair” day at the upcoming Filadelphia Latin American Film Festival.

We mean that in the best possible way. The Venezuela drama “Pelo Malo,” or “Bad Hair,” portrays the dynamics of a precocious young boy and his single mom.

It plays 4:45 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the International House on Chestnut Street.

“The little boy is trying to straighten his hair for a picture at school — he wants to look like a famous singer on TV and the mother doesn’t want him to straighten his hair because it makes him look effeminate,” says festival co-founder Beatriz Vieira. “There’s a lot of stuff about race, homophobia and about the mom trying to protect the kids from being ridiculed.”

The film is racking up awards at film festivals around the world and Variety has referred to it as an “impressively powerful multilayered drama.” Director and producer Mariana Rondon will be on hand to introduce and discuss the film.

“It’s so bittersweet,” Vieira says. “The little boy is amazing. It’s also an interesting way to look at mothers in Latin America. She’s not your traditional Latin American mother. She’s very powerful — she’s really fighting to survive in life and there are moments you really don’t like her.”

This year’s Filadelphia fest spotlights more than 12 Latin-American features at four venues across the city. The bulk of the films are at the International House and University of the Arts on South Broad yet the Chilean thriller “Matar a un Hombre,” or “To Kill a Man,” plays 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the Perelman Theater in the Kimmel Center. All the films have English subtitles. Highlights include the Cesar Chavez documentary, “Cesar’s Last Fast,” which shows 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at the International House; the Nuyorican family crime drama “The House That Jack Built,” 5 p.m. Sunday, April 27, at the University of the Arts and “Anina,” an animated film from Uruguay,10:30 a.m. Sunday, April 27, at the University of the Arts.

“Latin America is not known for animation, there’s not a lot of animation that comes out, so we’re really excited,” Vieira says. “This is about young girls and they get into trouble and they have an experience that transforms them. It’s so sweet and the animation is incredible.”

Filadelfia Latin American Film Festival
April 25-April 27
Locations: University of the Arts, 401 S. Broad St; International House, 3701 Chestnut St.; Chima Restaurant, 1901 John F Kennedy Blvd.; Kimmel Center, 300 S. Broad St.; Old City Coffee, Reading Terminal Market, 51 N. 12th St.
$10 for individual movies/$110 for weekend pass

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