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Olmos: Someday Hispanic films won't need separate festivals

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Los Angeles, Oct 20 (EFE).- Edward James Olmos, among Hollywood's most respected Hispanic voices, says he'll be happy when the LA Latino International Film Festival no longer has a raison d'etre, but in the meantime he is once again heading up the fete set to kick off Friday.

"Hopefully, one of these years we won't have a raison d'etre because that would mean that Hispanic films are on a par with Hollywood," said Olmos, who has dedicated more than half his 57 years to the film industry.

He knows that that ideal time is probably still far off, despite the much trumpeted success of Hispanic moviemaking, with hits in recent years such as "Amores Perros," "Son of the Bride" and "Nine Queens."

The experience of organizing the ninth edition of the film festival, which will be held at the Egyptian Theater until Oct. 30, gives evidence of that.

"I refuse to be a victim but it costs more and more to do a Hispanic festival as a world platform," the festival's executive director, Marlene Dermer, said.

"The competition is very tough and it's hard to get the money, to get the films," she added, referring to the difficulty of mounting such a festival.

Dermer complains above all because there is no lack of talent among the Hispanic moviemaking community and that, in her opinion, has been clear during the eight previous editions of Los Angeles's most important Spanish-language film event.

There's also no lack of support from the public, and the number of festival attendees has been growing over the past eight years among both Hispanics and non-Hispanics.

In addition, there exists an interest in Hispanic movies within the film industry, but some feel that could be more of a fad - the so-called "Latino boom" - than because of a real understanding of Latino cinema.

"I don't consider Latino film - or Hispanic or whatever you want to call it - a genre. We're part of the film world," added Dermer, throwing a few darts at those elements of "Hispanic moviemaking" that are beginning to appear at other festivals, which consequently have stolen more than one premier from the LA fete.

Dermer's combative spirit is balanced by the calm radiated by Olmos, who is sure that the festival will ultimately triumph.

"The reality is that we're citizens of the world and that is reflected in our festival," he added.

This year, the fete includes a cinematographic banquet of more than 100 films from Spain, Latin America and the United States. It is "a very diverse selection made by us," Dermer said.

The festival opens with the screening of "Havana Blues," by Spain's Benito Zambrano, and includes an homage to the career of Mexican-born actor Ricardo Montalban.

Dermer points out that 11 of the productions in the program are American, made by "U.S. Latinos."

"The numbers were always on our side. There are many more of us, more than ever," said Olmos, who was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for "Stand and Deliver" (1988).

Another work included for the first time in the show is "Buscando a Leti" (Looking for Leti), the primary work of Mexican-born U.S. filmmaker Dalia Tapia.

"Eddie and I keep saying that when the festival isn't needed any longer we'll leave, but each year we find new reasons (to stay) and new sources of inspiration," Dermer concluded. EFE

Copyright 2005 Efe. All Rights Reserved.

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