What started as a grassroots passion project of a UCO employee to celebrate Latinx heritage in Oklahoma has grown into a massive two-day film festival in downtown Oklahoma City with submissions from Latino artists around the world.
Rogelio Almeida, multimedia services coordinator for UCO’s Office of Information Technology, helped begin the Oklahoma Cine Latino Film Festival (OKCine) in 2014 with his filmmaking passion, a few film submissions from the community and a single film screen in the bottom of the El Nacional Media basement. After a successful first year, Almeida traveled to film festivals across the U.S. to bring back ideas and grow the Oklahoma festival.
Queue a few posts on internet film festival platforms, and word about OKCine quickly spread from there. Submittals from Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Cuba and more flew in, and the local film festival became an international event that would grow every year.
Since then, Almeida sought the help of friends and UCO colleagues to grow the festival beyond a cultural celebration to including an educational component for largely Latino high schools in the Oklahoma City metro. Students are placed in a five-day, multi-weekend youth film program where they learn video editing techniques, acting and how to write a script. The students submit their projects to be showcased alongside domestic and international film submissions at OKCine.
Now, OKCine serves as a vital event for nonprofit Historic Capitol Hill to spread awareness about Latinx culture, filmmaking and community. Almeida, along with UCO colleagues Guillermo Martinez-Sotelo, Ph.D., associate professor of Spanish, Robert Mather, Ph.D.. associate dean and professor of Psychology, and Liliana Renteria Mendoza, UCO’s director of OKC Cultural Outreach and Diversity Strategies, serve on the planning committee for the event as volunteers and help judge more than 100 film submissions and coordinate the event and awards show.
The sixth annual Oklahoma Cine Latino Film Festival will take place March 6-7 in the heart of the Oklahoma City Hispanic community. Doors open for the red-carpet event at 5:30 p.m. March 6 at the Yale Theater, 277 SW 25th St., OKC. The selected films will be shown and awarded various honors. Latin cuisine and a live performance by Latin Mojo Band will wrap up the opening night celebration. Tickets are $25 pre-purchase or $30 at the door.
From noon-5 p.m. March 7 at Capitol Hill Library, 327 SW 27th St., OKC, the festival is free and will feature more films and documentaries.