In an ideal world, there would be no need for nationally designated months designed to raise public awareness about certain ethnic groups (which are then promptly forgotten once the 30 days are up). But that world is still a ways away. In the meantime, what are you doing to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month? With a host of cultural activities taking place this weekend alone, it shouldn't be too hard to answer that question.
Sponsored by Cine Acción, the nation's oldest Latino film and media arts nonprofit, the ninth annual ¡Cine Latino!film fest showcases the latest in indies by and about Latinos. Originally a grass-roots undertaking, the ambitious program has grown to a full-fledged movie marathon, featuring documentaries, shorts, and experimental videos made in the U.S., Latin America, and the Spanish-speaking world. The fest kicks off with a gala reception with performances by resident mambo king John Santos; Herbert Siguenza, one-third of Culture Clash; and surprise celebrity appearances, followed by a screening of The Bronze Screen: 100 Years of the Latino Image in American Cinema. The event takes place Thursday, Sept. 13, at 6 p.m. at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater, 3301 Lyon (at Bay), S.F. Admission is $25. The festival continues through Sept. 23 with screenings around the Bay Area. Call 553-8140 or visit www.cineaccion.com for a full schedule.
The Mexican Museum's ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrates its new 63,000-square-foot building, near SFMOMA and Yerba Buena Center. Ohlone singers and danzantes performing Aztec dance rituals bless the site, beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 14, in front of the Argent Hotel, 50 Third St. (at Mission), S.F.; call 202-9710. Later that evening, Chicano performance artist Harry Gamboa Jr. presents Trigger Mixer, a text-based critique of daily urban life that synthesizes music, spoken word, photography, and film. The show begins at 7 p.m. at SFMOMA, Phyllis Wattis Theater, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $5-8; call 978-2787 for tickets.
Teatro Chicano was once the ideal medium for activists to kill three birds with one stone -- political, social, and creative visions were articulated by the movement, spearheaded by El Teatro Campesino and El Teatro de la Esperanza in the 1970s. The first annual Hecho en Califas Chicano-Latino Teatro Festivalhopes to renew such revolutionary passion with performances by groups like spoken word troupe Los Delicados and pioneers El Teatro Campesino. Shows begin at 7:30 and 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14-15, at Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission (at 24th Street), S.F. Admission is $10-12; call 821-1155.
If you're not burnt out on outdoor activities by now (see Friday), check out Viva Las Américasand the Latino Summer Fiesta 2001. Both celebrations serve up free beats along with arts and crafts, kids' activities, and street fair vendors and booths. Viva takes place Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15-16, from noon to 5 p.m. at Pier 39, Beach & Embarcadero, S.F. Admission is free; call 705-5500. Fiesta 2001 begins at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 16, at Civic Center Plaza, Polk & McAllister, S.F. Admission is free-$5; call 826-1401. -- Lisa Hom