A Latin American Film Festival, aimed at celebrating the richness and diversity of cultures while fostering cross-cultural understanding, begins at the Ha Noi Cinematheque tonight May 15.

The embassies of Argentina , Brazil , Cuba , Chile , Mexico , Panama , Uruguay and Venezuela in Vietnam have worked together on the festival to bring Latin American images, sounds and stories to Hanoi .

It will feature films that portray the complexities and rhythms of each country, said Karina Belen Blas Rodriguez of the Embassy of Mexico.

"(It's an) opportunity to feel the Latin heart, its passions and dreams and realise that there are many cultural aspects that Vietnamese and Latin Americans share," she said.

Two films will be presented every Tuesday until June 5 at 6pm and 8pm. Each evening's programme will include a reception between the movies to enjoy traditional Latin American appetisers and drinks.

Tonight's film by Mexican director Roberto Girault, The Student, is about a man in his seventies who enrolls at a university to follow his long-deferred dream of studying literature.

It will be followed by Live Cuba, by Cuban director Juan Carlos Cremata. The tale is similar to Romeo and Juliet, where the friendship between two children is threatened by their parents' differences.

On May 22, Noel: The Samba Poet, by Brazilian Ricardo Van Steen, will reveal the story of Noel Rosa, one of the best poets and composers whose first big success was a parody of the Brazilian national anthem.

Chile will follow with a presentation of The Gift, a romantic comedy which mixes funny scenes with charming characters, in a journey that turns out to be an unforgettable experience for a recently widowed and retired man who is going through difficult times.

On May 29, from Uruguay , The Pope's Toilet is a story inspired by a real-life 1988 tour by Pope John Paul II through South America, including a stop in Melo , Uruguay . On the same night, war and espionage sets the stage for a star-crossed romance in Venezzia, a historical drama from Venezuelan director Haik Gazarian.

The Chance on June 5 is a tropical comedy, directed by Panamanian Abner Benaim, about employee-employer labour relations which is a humorous critique of the mistreatment domestic staff suffer. On the same night the series concludes with A Chinese Tale, from Argentina , about the magic in life, rare events and destiny. It's a story of a Chinese immigrant lost in Buenos Aires without knowing any Spanish. The rendezvous between two cultures shows audiences the underlying connection of seemingly isolated events.

Rodriguez said: "These movies are selected because they clearly show the Latin American way of life nowadays, its cultures and traditions. This is what we want to share with the Vietnamese audience."

Entrance to the film festival at 22A Hai Ba Trung Street is free. All films will be shown in Spanish with English subtitles with a Vietnamese audio option.-VNA