Organization showcases foreign-inspired films

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About 35 people gathered to watch the first movie of the year, a French film called “Amelie.”

Allison Brown
CityLifestyle Reporter

The sound of at least three different languages filled Rojo during the first screening of the Alabama International Cinema. 

“Our goal is to promote inclusion and diversity through art, music, dance, film and food,” said Robert Hernandez, president and co-founder of Alabama Multicultural Organization (AMOR), a Birmingham based non-profit organization. 

On Tuesday, January 29, AMOR showcased diversity with its newest program, the Alabama International Cinema.  About 35 people gathered to watch the first movie of the year, a French film called “Amelie.” Some spoke French, and others were just looking for something to do on a cold night. Next month will feature the German film “The Wave.”

Hernandez said, the inspiration to found AMOR came after his parents’ passing. The first event he hosted was Dia de los Muertos, a Mexican celebration of the dead. Hernandez said he felt the event should be free because it was meant to recognize his family. This is also why he said he wants all of the AMOR events to be free. 

“I didn’t want people to give $5 or $10 to go see my aunts, uncles and parents,” Hernandez said. 

Hernandez said he was raised on the America-Mexico border, and that meant learning both sides of everything. He also said he had cousins who were French, an in-law who was African American and other relatives who lived all over the world. He said, having this diverse background inspired him to create an inclusive platform for cultural exchange. 

“My father was very inclusive, and my mother would have given someone the shirt off her back,” Hernandez said. “I was raised thinking everyone is equal.” 

Since its start in 2017, AMOR has now grown to be inclusive across various communities. For 2019, the organization is planning events for the Chinese New Year Festival, Holi Fest, Pride Fest, Diwali Festival of Lights, the Cherry Blossom Festival and others, in cooperation with other organizations. 

Hernandez said that the festivals and events are open to everyone, regardless of background. AMOR’s goal, according to their website, is to enable people to embrace different cultures. Hernandez said that some people have forgotten or may have never learned about their own culture, and these events give them the opportunity to do so. Looking toward the future, Hernandez said he hopes the organization can build a multicultural center.  

“[Birmingham] has art museums, jazz festivals and theatre programs, but that still leaves some people out,” said Hernandez.  

Hernandez said he wants the multicultural center to be built before the World Games in 2021, so that attendees of the games would see the Birmingham’s diversity. 

“I hope people see that there are lots of colorful people here, not just in Birmingham, but all over Alabama,” Hernandez said. 

Events hosted by AMOR are free to the public and the organization runs solely on donations and fundraising. The main fundraiser that AMOR has is Coffee Fest, which is on February 23. AMOR’s next event is the International Cinema showing on February 26 at Rojo. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the event is free.

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