The first Portland Latin American Film Fest (PDXLAFF) has a lot of ground to cover over the course of its four-day run—but with selections from Cuba, Mexico, South America, and even the US, they're all over it, with a selection of shorts and a dozen full-length features and documentaries. The first full day starts on Friday, September 21, with screenings at the Living Room Theaters, and wraps up on Sunday, September 23.

Don't miss the highlights of the fest, which include the fiery (Drama/Mex, El Benny), the heartfelt (My Mexican Shiva), and the hopeful, like Antônia, the story of four young women in Sao Paulo, Brazil, who dream of making a career out of their music, but are frustrated by daily setbacks of racism, violence, and sexism. Drama/Mex is an interesting, titillating film that captures the heat and intensity of an Acapulco evening in the lives of five Mexicans who are struggling to come to terms with their morally ambiguous relationships with one another. El Benny is a dreamy, surreal biopic about beloved Cuban musician Benny Moré (played by the charismatic Renny Arozarena). Considered one of the most influential Cuban singers of all time, Benny's innate gift for music led to a life of booze, women, and ultimately an untimely death at the age of 43.

The opening night film, Antônia, screens on Thursday at the Northwest Film Center's Whitsell Auditorium (1219 SW Park) at 7 pm, followed by a free afterparty at the Living Room Theaters. The party starts at 9 pm, and it should be hopping with free short screenings, music videos, and Latin music.

For the festival schedule, see our Movie Times on pg. 55; for our reactions to some of the films screening, see Film Shorts on pg. 52. Hit for more info.