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Inaugural LI Hispanic Film Festival opens

The Long Beach advocacy group Círculo de la Hispanidad is hosting its first Long Island Hispanic Film Festival this weekend to showcase independent films focusing on community issues.

The free Hempstead festival, which will feature English-language films, launches today with the premiere of “Air,” a documentary on the life of Gil C. Alicea, a young man in South Bronx who has written a book about coping with his dad’s drug addiction and both of his parents contracting HIV.

Other films, to be shown tomorrow and Sunday, will deal with the plight of immigrant workers, the effects of aggressive immigration enforcement policies and the hate killing of a Brooklyn immigrant in 2008.

The showings will be followed by question-and-answer sessions with directors, actors and community activists.

Gil Bernardino, founder and director of Círculo, said the group hopes the event is the start of more community gatherings that provide a forum for Hispanic issues in Nassau County. He is hoping the discussions will attract area residents of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

“We want to have our meeting space used for art exhibits, theater and film showings,” Bernardino said. “We will be looking for stories that are related to the experiences of the Hispanic community in the United States that we can present here.”

The festival starts at 7:30 p.m. today at the group’s community center at 605 Peninsula Blvd., in the Village of Hempstead. For details on the showings, visit lihff.com.

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