The first East Harlem Film Festival

June 1, 2011 2:00:10 PM PDT
Robert De Niro better watch out because there are some new kids in town!

There is a new international film festival in East Harlem showcasing works from artists around the world, The East Harlem International Film Festival, and many of the featured artists are from this hidden enclave on the river - a community that's rich in arts and culture.

Raphael Benavides, the festival's co-founder, owns the Poet's Den Theatre - where some of the screenings will take place.

"If you think about it, the reason Mr. De Niro started the Tribeca Film Festival was to bring economic development to the area after 911; so in reality, I am trying to do the same thing here in East Harlem, let everyone know what we have in the neighborhood," says Raphael.

He is flattered to be even mentioned in the same sentence with the TriBeCa Film Festival.

During this week-long festival, films will be shown in four categories - including documentaries.

Meet Raul, the subject of a documentary.

Cameras follow the then 75 year old as he strives to conquer the decathlon. Shot in South America and Finland, Raul is part of a select few in the world training at this level at his age.

His life motto, he says, is the easy part. "If you face the aging process with hope and faith, it's good."

The 93 minute work, was the first documentary for John Case, the film's producer.

Raphael is making something happen where you wouldn't expect and Raul is completely unknown.

"I totally believe what his message is and I think it has worldwide appeal," says John.


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