The Sixth Annual Latino Film Festival

A special program of three films about the Jewish diaspora

When the Jews were expelled from Spain during the Inquisition (on the eve of Columbus' 1492 journey to the New World), many escaped to Latin America. The fate of these Sephardim is the subject of three documentaries, all with English subtitles, included in the sixth annual Latino Film Festival.

Legado (Legacy) is the most professional of the films, using stills, music, and fade-outs to produce a smooth look not unlike Ken Burns' many titles (Jazz, Mark Twain). It tells the story of a group of around 800 Jews, fleeing pogroms in Russia, who landed in Argentina in 1889. As in Burns' films, we hear the voices of participants and descendants -- in particular that of Anna, who narrates a vivid account of her family's crossing and settlement. As she relates, her father hoped that in the new country they'd be "free to pray."

A more modern -- and timely -- story emerges from Vivir Con Terror (To Live With Terror), which analyzes two bombings in Buenos Aires in the early '90s, one at the Israeli Embassy and one at the Jewish community center. Through interviews with survivors and victims' families as well as an informative voice-over, the movie brings us to understand that "Islamic fundamentalists" were suspected but never caught. In one chilling scene, the father of a victim says, "Thousands of people were murdered by these terrorists, and the Western world let this disease spread."

The third doc, Adio Kerida (Goodbye Dear Love), follows Ruth Behar as she revisits Havana, where she was born, to interweave her family's history with that of the Jews in Cuba. Though the production values are low (lots of shaky video and jumbled sound), the story is compelling, and Behar's passionate narration helps. When she says, "I want to believe in the possibility of return," we can only nod our heads in recognition.

 
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