The Arlington International Film Festival is On!

2016 Arlington International Film Festival
2016 Arlington International Film Festival

Yesterday evening, it only took me a 10-minute drive to experience world-class cinema. The Arlington International Film Festival (AIFF) premiered last night at the Capitol Theater in East Arlington with the showing of the short movie Stereotypes and the documentary Jiaolin [Coach], which received the AIFF Jury Award for “Best Feature Documentary”.

In all honesty, I didn’t attend the festival in a couple of years even though each edition showcased an impressive selection of international movies. I always found good reasons: too cold, too dark outside, or no babysitter. Last year, Arlington lost its festival when the organizers, April and Alberto Guzman, were invited to host the event at the Kendall Square Theater in Cambridge. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone, right? This year, the festival is back in town and I pledged to brave the elements and support this local institution. So I went to the Capitol Theater and joined other adventurers who also ignored the rain and the colder temperatures, premises of our New England winter.

Yesterday evening, it only took me a 10-minute drive to experience world-class cinema.

In this deleterious election season, Stereotypes felt like getting a flu shot: seasonal, must-have for some, and “nah” for others. The movie tells the story behind the art project by photographer Kevin J. Briggs, who Arlington Diversity Task Group invited last March to host his exhibit Stereotypes: A Conscious Look at Race, Faith, Gender and Sexual Orientation at the Arlington Center for Arts. The project is a series of portraits which invites viewers to experience the power of discriminatory words on individuals. Since the beginning of the 2016 Presidential campaign, all sorts of insults were thrown at minority communities based on race, faith, or identity. I can’t wait for this election to end, but I wonder how people will heal and come together afterward. Even though the Stereotypes project started way before the campaign season, it could be a platform to dialog and find a way forward.

In this deleterious election season, Stereotypes felt like getting a flu shot.

The second movie, Jiaolin [Coach], is an eye-opening documentary on basketball in China. Not a basketball fan? Me neither. However, I found myself captivated by the story of Norman Da Silva, an American assistant coach from the Boston area who ended up leading a team of the CBA, the major men’s basketball league in China. This is the magic of the Arlington International Film Festival: it brings original stories to light and invites me to see the world through bigger lenses…here, right in my backyard! The director, Esteban Arguello, and Norman Da Silva himself, who know works for the Philadelphia 76ers were there to answer questions from the public. Is it not neat?

The AIFF brings original stories to light and invites me to see the world through bigger lenses…here, right in my backyard!

The Arlington International Film Festival lasts through Sunday night. It will present more movies from around the world and more stories from people who surprisingly you have more in common than you think. Don’t miss it this year!

For tickets and more information, visit www.aiffest.org

Blog post by Yawa Degboe

Yawa Degboe is co-chair of the Arlington Diversity Task Groups. She lives in Arlington with her husband and her daughter.

 

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