Now in its fifth year, the Dominican Film Festival in New York (DFFNY) celebrates the best in filmmaking and artistry from the Dominican Republic, Shakira Taveras reports for Vibe. More than a dozen films will be screened at this year’s event, kicking off on June 22 with the U.S. premiere of La Familia Reyna (The Reyna Family), a comedy-drama centered on the complex relationship between love and acceptance.
The festival not only promotes a national initiative, but aids in sustaining an identity for the Dominican diaspora by educating New York audiences of the rich relationship between Dominican cinema and the country’s history, politics, and social life of the country through art.
With the slogan “Our culture, Our People, Our Music, Our Cinema,” DFFNY highlights the most outstanding actors, directors, writers, and producers in the Dominican film industry. Said industry is currently experiencing exponential growth as the Dominican government is heavily investing in filmmaking initiatives. The Dominican Republic has become an attractive destination for both national and international filmmakers to produce new projects. This growth has also led to an increased participation by women in film, not only as actors, but as producers and directors.
Celines Toribio, star and producer of Maria Montez, the legendary screen queen who was the first Dominican actress to conquer Hollywood in the 1940s, is one of those actors at the forefront of filmmaking, propelling the image of strong Dominican women in a country still grappling with traditional views on the role of women.
Each passing year, DFFNY strives to expose audiences to an array of diverse and socially provocative programming that reflect the intricacies of the Dominican experience. The films selected cover social themes often obscured in daily talk, such as homosexuality, institutional corruption, sexism, and cultural tensions from a Haitian migrant’s perspective. The festival serves an important outlet for filmmakers to tell their stories.
Creatives behind the Dominican Film Festival in New York have found it imperative to keep venues as accessible as possible to the Latino community, screening all of the films in the heart of Washington Heights. Films will be presented with subtitles, in a concerted effort to promote culture and art outside of the Dominican community.
“The films are not just for Dominicans. We want to expand views on Dominican way of life, as we are more than just plátanos and merengue. It’s about breaking barriers, that’s what cinema is all about,” said James Duarte, DFFNY Creative Director.
The Dominican Film Festival in New York begins Wednesday, June 22-June 26, closing with the U.S. premiere of Todos Los Hombres Son Iguales (All Men Are the Same), starring Nashla Bogaert, Christian Meier, and Frank Perozo. —Shakira Taveras
For more information on films, tickets, screening venues, please visit here.