After postponing its annual spring film festival celebrating movies made by or about Latino and Indigenous communities, Cine Las Americas plans to debut a free virtual showcase during two weekends in July.


The virtual event, co-presented with the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center, will run from July 16-19 and pick up again July 23-26. Nearly 50 films including features, shorts and music videos representing a dozen countries will be screened.


"This presentation of a virtual showcase of films is a testament to the dedication of our staff to find a way forward and continue to foster connections between our Latinx filmmakers as well as those of Indigenous heritage and Texas audiences – even if we can’t do so in person," said Jean Lauer, the nonprofit’s executive director.


This year’s event will mark Lauer’s last as the organization’s leader as she focuses on teaching full-time at Austin Community College. In 2019, she was named executive director, after serving as a film program associate for the organization and then taking over as festival director in 2014. Lauer said she still plans to support Cine Las Americas as much possible and looks forward to its future plans.


"A lot is yet to be determined, especially given the current climate when no in-person events are going to be happening any time soon," and with grant organizations, sponsors and donors tightening their budgets, she said.


The virtual showcase, which will be accessible on cinelasamericas.org, will continue the festival’s tradition of audience awards, as well as the Hecho en Tejas, music video and youth film competitions. Visit the organization’s website starting July 8 to register for the free festival.


Among this year’s films are "Apego," a Costa Rican and Chilean drama directed by Patricia Velásquez Guzmán. It tells the story of Ana, a divorced architect and mother at a professional crossroads. Ana must decide what to do when the opportunity for a promotion and move to Mexico comes up just as her parents are separating and her father receives a cancer diagnosis.


Documentaries featured in the festival include "Your Turn," exploring the Brazilian student protest movement during the South American country’s economic and social crisis. The documentary is narrated by three high school students.


Austin-based director Sharon Arteaga’s "When You Clean a Stranger’s Home," a six-minute short, sheds light on what a mother and daughter learn about people as they clean their homes. The short will compete in the Hecho en Tejas category.


A full schedule and lineup information can be found on cinelasamericas.org.