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CÉsar Fierro stars in "The Years of Fierro."

This weekend, the Salt Lake Film Society is presenting the 2017 edition of Filméxico, a free festival started in 2012 to showcase a variety of contemporary Mexican films.

Filméxico will be hosted at the Broadway Centre Cinemas in downtown Salt Lake City. This year’s lineup features films that address a number of current issues for the Mexican people, including Monica Alvarez Franco’s “The Cloud Forest,” a documentary focused on preserving natural resources. The festival is supported by organizations such as the University of Utah’s Center for Latin American Studies, the Consulate of Mexico in Salt Lake City, and Artes de México en Utah.

SLFS director of public relations and marketing Barb Guy is excited to be a part of this yearly tradition.

“Filméxico is the product of a great partnership among nonprofit community groups,” she said. “Film fosters understanding and empathy, and we are proud to offer these things to the community.”

According to Reyna Kat-Woods, director of operations and programs for Artes de México en Utah, Filméxico provides exposure for Mexican films that wouldn’t receive it otherwise. Filméxico is designed to serve “an increasing number of people in Salt Lake City (who) want to connect with Latino cultural traditions,” Woods said. She explained that the festival engages members of the Hispanic community of all ages, and “showcases works in cinema to celebrate Mexican culture and artistic expression.”

The festival reflects a Latino population in Utah which, according to the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, has grown by 78 percent in the last decade, leading all other ethnic groups in Utah, and currently represents 14 percent of the total state population.

This year’s festival will begin the evening of Friday, May 19, at 7 p.m., with a screening of “The Cloud Forest” (Bosque de Niebla), a documentary about a small Mexican community called Veracruz that is reinventing its culture in order to protect its ecosystem.

In a recent interview for Variety, “Cloud Forest” producer Carlos Sosa, who will attend Saturday’s screening and remain afterward for a question-and-answer session, indicated that the subject “is a celebration of life on the ties between man and nature.”

(Attendees may note that this represents a schedule change from the original plan, which was to have “Cloud Forest” show Saturday night.)

The festival will resume late Saturday afternoon with a 5 p.m. shorts program from various directors, then transition to a 7 p.m. screening of a documentary called “The Years of Fierro” (Los Años de Fierro), directed by Santiago Esteinou, which tells the story of a Mexican man who has spent more than three decades on death row in the United States.

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The festival will conclude at 9 p.m. with “The Chosen Ones” (Las Elegidas), a drama meant to highlight the plight of many contemporary Mexican natives. It tells the story of a young man who falls for a teenage girl he is trying to lure into his family’s prostitution ring. The screening will be in Spanish with English subtitles.

The entire festival will be hosted by the Broadway Theatre, located at 111 E. 300 South, and all showings are free of charge.

“All the films are offered for free,” Guy said, “because we don’t want cost to be a barrier for anyone.”

If you go …

What: Filméxico

When: Friday, May 19, 7 p.m.; Saturday, May 20, 5 p.m.

Where: Broadway Theatre, 111 E. 300 South

How much: Free

Web: saltlakefilmsociety.org

Joshua Terry is a freelance writer and photographer who also teaches English composition for Weber State University. You can also find him on https://www.youtube.com/moviereviewsbyjosh' target='_blank'>YouTube.