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The Portland Latin American Film Festival takes place Sept. 28-Dec. 7 at the Hollywood Theatre, beginning with 'Mighty Victoria.'

COURTESY PHOTO: PDXLAFF - The Portland Latin American Film Festival begins with "Mighty Victoria (Poderoso Victoria)," Sept. 28.It's National Hispanic Heritage Month through Oct. 15 and an ideal time to learn more about the people from Latin America.

Film has been an educational tool for years, and the Portland Latin American Film Festival returns for its 16th iteration, Sept. 28-Dec. 7 at the Hollywood Theatre.

There will be feature films, documentaries and short films from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Mexico, Panama, Uruguay and the United States. The films can be enjoyed by Spanish, Portuguese and English speakers and other lovers of Latin culture.

The festival serves as a vehicle to showcase Latin American perspectives through films and increasing visibility of local Latin American cinema.

The festival kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, with the 2011 film "Mighty Victoria (Poderoso Victoria)." Director Raul Ramon and Mexican actor Roberto Sosa will be in attendance to introduce the movie and participate in a question-and-answer session after the screening at Hey Love in the Jupiter Next Hotel, 920 S.E. Burnside St.

The film has won audience choice awards in film festivals in Guadalajara, San Diego and Chicago. Sosa has worked alongside the likes of Lindsay Wagner, Jacqueline Bisset, Albert Finney, Emilio "El Indio" Fernandez, Jane Fonda, Gregory Peck, Denzel Washington and Mel Gibson.

The story: It's Mexico, 1937, and the people of the town La Esperanza receive news of the closure of the Indian Mine, and no one could have expected the devastating consequences. A few days later they receive an announcement that the last train to the capital is departing and with it, the only means of communication with the outside world. Everyone flees the town except for a handful of residents who are guided by a master mechanic.

The rest of the PDXLAFF feature film lineup:

• "Utama," 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12, Bolivia, Uruguay and France. The story: In the arid Bolivian highlands, an elderly Quechua couple has been living the same daily routine for years. When an uncommonly long drought threatens their entire way of life, Virginio and Sisa face the dilemma of resisting or being defeated. Things change, however, with the arrival of their grandson, Clever, who comes to visit with news. The three of them will face, each in their own way, the environment, the necessity for change, and the meaning of life itself, in this feature debut by Alejandro Loayza Grisi.

• "Home is Somewhere Else," 3 p.m. Oct. 23, Mexico, United States. The story: It's an animated documentary providing a window into the hearts and minds of immigrant youth and their undocumented families. This 2-D "animentary" features three personal stories about immigrant youth that highlight the complexities and challenges they face. Voiced by the actual children and their families, the stories are woven together by spoken word poet José Eduardo Aguilar, also known as Lalo "El Deportee," the film's host and MC whose vibrant "Spanglish" breaks codes, switches standards and pushes the viewer to decipher his poems.

COURTESY PHOTO: PDXLAFF - "Carajita"• "Carajita," 3 p.m. Nov. 6, Dominican Republic, Argentina. The story: Sara and her nanny, Yarisa, have a relationship that seems to transcend their class conditions. They are the closest thing to a daughter-mother, but an accident will test their intimate loyalty and the innocent illusion that nothing can separate them.

• "Plaza Catedral," 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16, Panama, Mexico, Colombia. The story: Alicia (Ilse Salas) had a perfect life and lost it. Her 6-year-old son died in an accident and her grief is plagued by guilt. One night Chief, a street-smart 14-year-old who takes care of cars, arrives at her door bleeding from a gunshot wound, and begs her to let him inside. How far would you go to help a stranger?

• "The Moneychanger (Asi Hablo el Cambista)," 7:30 p.m. Dec. 7, Uruguay, Argentina, Germany. The story: In the mid-1970s, the regional economy drew a lot of scoundrels to Uruguay. Its institutions were bankrupt, there was a military government, the subversives were behind bars, and, for certain sectors of Brazilia and Argentina with a low reputation, the Uruguayan financial market seemed like an ideal place to make money disappear. This is when Humberto Brause begins his meteoric rise in the buying and selling of foreign currency, sponsored by his own father-in-law, a veteran in the business of capital flight. But, blinded by his excessive ambition, Humberto tramples everything and everyone in his path until he's gotten his hands on the family business and accepts a suspicious assignment: laundering the largest sum of money he has ever seen.

Tickets can be purchased online at or at the Hollywood Theatre, site of the screenings, 4122 N.E. Sandy Blvd. For more about the festival, see its Facebook page.

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