Events celebrate Hispanic heritage

ROCHESTER — A Latino film festival is one of several events taking place locally this month to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

The annual recognition of Latino contributions and achievements runs nationally from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

The Puerto Rican Festival board chose to organize a film festival to highlight Latinos’ work in cinema, said Orlando Ortiz, board president. It also is part of the festival board’s mission to offer positive community events throughout the year, which also will include a comedy show and wine tasting later in the fall.

Organizers spent the past year and worked with staff from the Little Theatre to plan the one-day Sept. 17 film festival, which concludes with a discussion and networking event, Ortiz added. The goal would be to expand to other venues and offer it over a longer time period, he said.

"But we wanted to put together something for this year," Ortiz noted. "And we hope it’ll be a (well) attended and executed event."

The Hispanic Heritage Rochester committee, which is comprised mainly of city employees but also includes community members, also is planning a series of events that includes a kick-off ceremony on Sept. 15 and closing gala on Oct. 14 at City Hall, said Raquel Serrano, committee chairwoman.

This year’s theme is "Orgullo Latino: Alumbrando el Futuro" ("Latin pride: Making for a Brighter Future").

New events include a Latino dance workshop, a program honoring Latino elders and a college fair for Latino students, she said. The city’s Link Gallery also will feature an art exhibit of Latino artists, and Hispanic youths will receive their own spotlight during a talent expo, Serrano explained.

"Every week, we have something," she noted.

The annual Hispanic/Latino Heritage Family Day will take place at the Memorial Art Gallery on Oct. 2 with the theme "Adventures in Art and Culture."

For the past few years, the event has included a special segment highlighting a specific country, explained Debora McDell-Hernández, coordinator of community programs and outreach. This year, the spotlight will be on Puerto Rico, she noted.

Local representatives from other Latin American countries as well as community and college organizations also will be part of the international cultural displays, McDell-Hernández explained. The event’s planning committee also will honor a local Latino for his/her contributions to the arts, she added.

Performers will include Alma Latina, a group of farmworkers and their families who have been sharing their Mexican culture through dance since 2001, McDell-Hernández said.

"We always try to welcome new groups to the event," she remarked. "We like to leave room for familiar faces and new faces."

EDITOR’S NOTE: For a complete list of events, visit the Community & Faith section at

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