The 36th version of the Ibero-Latin American Film Festival was held in the city of Trieste from November 6 to 15, bringing together once again many of the leading exponents of the sector who showcase their works to the Italian public. The festival also includes a session dedicated to the Iberian Peninsula, that is, creations from Spain and Portugal. This year the Sala Luttazzi and the Museo Revoltella were the places where directors, producers, actors, journalists and of course the public had the opportunity to enjoy 90 films and documentaries, along with interesting presentations and conversations with the public.

All films screened, as well as the dialogues with the audience, were subtitled in Italian and simultaneously translated thanks to the collaboration between the festival and the University of Trieste and its prestigious faculty of Modern Language Studies for interpreters and translators. The festival also collaborates with the Universities of Udine, Padua, Venice, Bologna and Salerno, along with other institutions.

The Chilean film La mirada incendiada (2021), by director Tatiana Gaviola, won this year's award for best feature film in the official competition, assigned by the jury composed of Luigi Cuciniello, Enric Bou and Alberto García Ferrer. Based on a true story that took place during a protest against Pinochet's military dictatorship in 1986, it tells the tragic fate of Rodrigo Rojas de Negri, a young photographer working for an international agency, and his partner Carmen Gloria Quintana. Both were doused with gasoline by a military patrol and burned alive. Rodrigo died of his injuries and Carmen Gloria survived, with her body and face deformed.

Argentina won best director with Martín Desalvo's El silencio del cazador (2020), while Mexico won best screenplay with Carlos Cuarón's Amalgama (2021). The Dominican Republic won the Special Jury Prize with Malpaso (2020) by director Héctor Valdez. For the festival audience, the best film was Mapa de sueños latinoamericanos (2020), by Argentine director Martín Weber. A careful selection marked by the richness of the documentaries presented, which depict the realities of historical events in the political and social life of the region.

Latin America remains a distant and fairly unknown region for most of Italy; therefore, a festival of this nature offers the opportunity to bring the countries and their cultural diversity closer to Europe. In addition, the festival carries out a work of educational dissemination by bringing the champions of the last version, the winning films, to various cities in Italy.

Trieste has certainly become an indispensable reference point for Latin American filmmakers. It represents one of the few windows of access to this continent rich in creations and film culture that has been and continues to be a school for many Latin American filmmakers, as well as for the new generations exploring this infinite universe of art.

Likewise, for the Italian audience, it has turned into an opportunity to follow the evolution of the film industry in a distant part of the world that has grown and developed its own particular vision, full of history and creativity.

For the city of Trieste, it is also a chance to project itself internationally and an opportunity to enter the Latin American imagination through press releases, interviews and reports generated by the presence of Latin American filmmakers in each of its countries.

The festival has achieved solid prestige thanks to the work and effort of its Chilean founder and director, Rodrigo Díaz, who arrived in Italy as one of the many refugees who escaped the long night of terror and bloodshed caused by the military dictatorship led by Augusto Pinochet. Italy has not only opened its doors to this Chilean refugee, but the Italian authorities have helped to make this festival possible.

With many efforts and sacrifices, it began in the last century, in 1985, thanks to the support of the city of Trieste and the region, Friuli Venezia Giulia. Today, there is an alliance that can and must be further strengthened by the fluid collaboration of its authorities and the University of Trieste, together with all the logistical support it receives from various public and private institutions. Even more important is the generous and unconditional support given by dozens of students who work voluntarily for nine days, accompanying guests, translating, distributing material and information about the festival.

Trieste has earned a place in the heart of the world of Latin American Iberian cinema, and the city has enriched its cultural life with a festival that has already acquired prestige and through which the great names of Latin American cinema, above all, and also of literature have paraded, such as the late writer Luis Sepúlveda, who has always given his support to this space to showcase the work of Latin American creators. The professionalism that the festival has acquired is a merit of teamwork and the zeal with which its director has defended its independence, sometimes even resisting certain pressure from some countries via their embassies in Rome.

In addition, since 2003 the festival has awarded the "Salvador Allende Prize" to various personalities from culture, cinema, art, science and politics. Among them, the journalist Roberto Savio, the directors Carmen Castillo and Patricio Guzmán, the scientist Fernando Quevedo and the founder of the Argentinean association "Madres de la Plaza de Mayo", Vera Vigevani Jarach. In recognition of the struggle for the respect of human rights in Latin America, the prize was awarded posthumously to the former Italian Prime Minister, Bettino Craxi, and to the diplomat Tommaso de Vergottini, who in 1973 did not hesitate to open the doors of the Italian embassy in Santiago to hundreds of men and women persecuted by the Chilean military dictatorship.

The paradox for Latin America is that the Trieste Ibero-Latin American Film Festival allows us to see films that do not make it to the commercial circuits of the region, which in most cases are dominated by the large American distributors who act solely based on market criteria. Nor are there any incentives or agreements between governments to present the creations produced in the various countries and to generate through cinema a greater knowledge that would contribute to real integration. Thus, during the nine days of the Festival, Trieste makes it possible to see films that hardly ever reach the screens of Latin American cinemas.

We owe much of the depth and intelligence of this "look" to director Rodrigo Díaz and the team of young people who accompany him in the organization of the festival. The idea of involving the world of schools in this work -mainly that of interpreters - to make known, through the festival, the richness of Latin American culture creates a bridge between two continents. It seems to us that, in this effort that has lasted thirty-six years, there is another important conviction: that culture is the best way to defend the value of freedom and to be the tool to bring us closer together and make known the differences that have always been intertwined. This faith in cultural diplomacy is what should be at the heart of the politics of our time.

(Article by Massimo Bray, former Minister of Culture of Italy and current Director of the Enciclopedia Italiana and Fernando Ayala, former Chilean ambassador to Italy and current Deputy Director of Strategic Development at the University of Chile).