Williamsburg church hosts Latin American film series

Williamsburg church hosts Latin American film series
Photo by Stefano Giovanini

Grab some popcorn — and your Spanish dictionary.

St. Paul’s Church in Williamsburg is hosting a new film series it is calling the Latin American Film Festival in August, showing four classic movies from around the Spanish-speaking world. The festival’s organizer said he hopes the free, outdoors film fest will bring the neighborhood’s residents together across age and language barriers.

“We want an atmosphere where people can wander in off the street, enjoy movies from their childhood, and create a culture of mingling and cultural expression,” said Ben McKelahan, a pastor at St. Paul’s.

Screening each Thursday in August, the movies are all in Spanish with English subtitles. McKelahan hopes to create a small taste of the atmosphere that the neighborhood lost when the nearby Commodore Theater closed down in 2002.

“The Commodore was a big center for a lot of the folks in the community,” he said. “We’re hoping to bring cultural energy back to the block.”

The first film in the series, which will show on Aug. 7, is 1964’s “El Padrecito,” or “The Little Priest.” It stars Cantinflas, a Mexican actor popular in the 1940s and ’50s who was known as the Mexican Charlie Chaplin. Cantinflas plays a young priest who shows up in a small Mexican town with a head full of ideas and a penchant for stirring up trouble.

McKelahan chose one film from each decade between 1950 and 1980 in an effort to create the broadest possible appeal. Other films showing in the series include “The Spirit of the Beehive,” a 1973 film about a young girl in the wake of the Spanish Civil War, and “The King of the Neighborhood,” a Mexican comedy from 1950 featuring a modern-day Robin Hood figure.

The Latin American Film Festival at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church [334 S. Fifth St. between Rodney and Keap Streets, (510) 926–2310, www.parablesnyc.org/filmfestival]. Aug. 7, 14, 21, and 28 at 8 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz