'Mi Familia' opens 2009 PC film series

The first film in the four-part series, "Mi Familia" or "My Family," will be shown at 7 p.m. April 10 at Peninsula College's Little Theater, 1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd., Port Angeles.

The film opens the college's "Magic of Cinema" series for the spring quarter.

"Mi Familia" is a drama starring Jimmy Smits, Edward James Olmos and Esai Morales. It features Jennifer Lopez in her first film role.

Filmed in both California and Mexico, the movie tracks three generations of a Mexican_American family that emigrated from Mexico and settled in East Los Angeles.

The story is narrated by the Sanchez family's eldest son, Paco, and spans the period from the 1930s-1970s.

In the opening scene of "Mi Familia," the father of the family, José Sanchez, is a

youth making a year-long journey on foot from Mexico to Los Angeles to meet a very old man known as El Californio, who was born in the city when it was still part of Mexico.

While in Los Angeles, José meets and marries the love of his life, María, an American citizen played by Jennifer Lopez.

Their lives are torn apart shortly thereafter when María is illegally deported to Mexico by the United States government in a mass roundup.

Two long years later, Maria returns to Los Angeles with her infant son, Chucho. Reunited at last, Maria and José settle in East LA to raise their family.

Filmgoers next meet Maria and José in the late 1950s as their children deal with the youth culture of the day.

Soon, it is the early 1960s and the children come of age, marry and start their own families.

The final segment of the film spotlights the third generation in the 1970s as they

face acculturation, assimilation and the past problems of their extended family.

Roger Ebert, film critic for the Chicago Sun_Times, praised the direction of the film and wrote: "Their story is told in images of startling beauty and great overflowing energy; it is rare to hear so much laughter from an audience that is also sometimes moved to tears.

"Few movies like this get made because few filmmakers have the ambition to open their arms wide and embrace so much life."

"Mi Familia" won several awards when it was released in the mid-1990s, including the 1996 Independent Spirit Awards for Best Male Lead for Smits and Best Supporting Female for Lopez.

It also garnered the Outstanding Feature Film Award from NCLR Bravo Awards and won several best casting awards from the Casting Society of America.

Peninsula College's spring quarter Magic of Cinema films are thematically linked to works by Ana Castillo, the college's ninth writer-in-residence, who will visit the campus April 20-22.

The films emphasize issues such as immigration and contemporary Mexican-American family and community life and were selected by Peninsula College Spanish language and culture faculty member Dr. Reina Barreto.

Admission to the film costs $5 general and $1 for students with a current ID.

Call 452-9277.

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