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OPENS WEDNESDAY

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As previous Latin American film fests have demonstrated, Latin American cinema means magical realism, period dramas, and rustic parables. Yet those genres tend to be overshadowed by movies that depict contemporary life in the region’s major cities as raw, bloody, and hopeless. So it’s worth noting that two of the highlights in this year’s 23-feature lineup take a lighter look at those mean streets. In Brazil’s comic and surprisingly sweet My Uncle Killed a Guy (pictured; at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, and 6:20 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2), a 15-year-old natural-born detective investigates the shooting that’s put his uncle in jail, but devotes equal time to keeping his secret love from hooking up with a classmate. The humor is louder and broader, but exceptionally well-plotted, in Mexico’s Noose Ends (at 9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, and 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24), a tale of abduction, attempted murder, professional wrestling, and mistaken identity involving two comatose men. Among the other films set for the festival’s opening days are Benjamim (at 6:40 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, and 1:45 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24), a lushly romantic (if fatalistic) reverie about a Rio man who, at two different stages in his life, is in love with two different versions of the same woman, and Bad Blood (at 6:40 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, and 5:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23), in which contemporary life in Santiago is, yup, raw, bloody, and hopeless. The series opens Wednesday, Sept. 21, and runs through Monday, Oct. 3 (see Showtimes for a weekly schedule), at the American Film Institute’s Silver Theatre and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $9.25. (301) 495-6700. (Mark Jenkins)