Latino film festival returns March 8

Cinema and Latino storytelling collide at the 19th Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival beginning March 8 and running through March 18.

To commemorate its return, City’s World Cultures program held a promotional event at the Saville Theatre on March 1.

Latinos make up a growing segment of the U.S. population, “in some communities, Latinos can make up maybe 50 percent. But how many Latinos were nominated for Oscars? The representation on the small screen and movies has been small,” said Ethan van Thillo, the festival’s founder and executive director.

Van Thillo, a graduate of UC Santa Cruz, moved to San Diego and founded the Latino Film Festival, which spawned the Media Arts Center, a non-profit organization that teaches cinematic storytelling.

What began as “Cine Estudiantil” and initially focused on student films has enjoyed a steady growth and increased popularity over the years making it one of the most well-respected film festivals in the country.

At the time of its inception, there were only two Latino film festivals in the country.

More than 225,000 people have attended over the years and the festival has had the opportunity to screen over 3,500 films.

This year, more than 170 films hailing from Spain, Mexico and all over Latin America will be screened over the course of 11 days.

An estimated 20,000 festival goers are expected to attend.

“There’s a little for everybody. Family movies, documentaries and short films. A little of everything,” said Van Thillo.

In addition to the variety, the festival will have different series showcasing particular genres including “El Mundo Extraño,” highlighting horror and science-fiction, “Cine Gay” with stories about the gay, lesbian and transgender community, Jewish-Latino films and family movies, among others.

“Arte Latino” will showcase artwork, live music and food in the lobby of the theater. More than 100 actors and directors will be in attendance.

Tickets can be purchased online or by visiting the UltraStar Mission Valley Cinema box office on Hazard Center Drive.
Individual screening tickets will be $10. Student, senior, military and MACSD “Cine Club” member tickets will be $8. Festival passes range from $35 to $180.

For tickets or information, visit or call (619) 230-1938.

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Latino film festival returns March 8