It was a night to remember for Houston’s Venezuelan community as hundreds of movie enthusiasts filled Sundance Theaters in downtown on August 11, 2015. The Venezuelan Film Festival had arrived, and it was the beginning of a display of talent, perseverance and joy from the actors, directors and others who made this project a reality.
The opening film was “La Distancia Mas Larga” or ‘The Longest Distance,” a drama that narrates two parallel stories of a child and his grandmother. From the chaotic streets of Caracas to the Venezuelan Gran Sabana, the story takes the viewer to landscapes of indescribable beauty and heartfelt emotions.
“It is something that had not been seen,” says protagonist Alec Whaite, referring to how the movie has been premiered three times in Venezuela due to the number of international accolades it has received. “It has been a wonderful journey. We have been very fortunate with this movie.”
Fortunate because this film, as well as others shown at the festival such as “Azul y no tan Rosa” and “La Casa del Fin de los Tiempos,” is proof of a growing industry undergoing a positive transformation.
“A lot of good, high quality films are being made in Venezuela and they are not being distributed through the conventional channels,” says Yrene Ybirin, founder of Maravilla, the New York-based organization that organized the festival.
“That is why we decided to start with a film festival, first in New York last year and now in Houston.”
At the opening of the festival, both Ybirin and Whaite addressed the problematic political and economic climate in Venezuela.
“Right now, regretfully, in Venezuela we are experiencing a very delicate situation, and I believe it is time to start reconnecting with one another,” says Whaite.
For now, only New York and Houston have hosted the Venezuela Film Festival. The goal, according to Ybirin is to bring the festival to other cities in the U.S.
Hispanic Houston contributor Claudia Deschamps is a former journalist for Univision and Telemundo, current Houston-based communications professional, mother of two small and an active member in various community organizations.