‘Hybrid Identities’

Ernesto Lopez

Three City College professors are set to screen their documentary “Hybrid Identities: Artistic Voices from the Border” March 19 at the biggest celebration of Latin American cinema in San Diego.

The film was a collaborative project across three disciplines from San Diego City College and student participation; RTVC professor Laura Castaneda, English professor Elizabeth Meehan and Spanish professor Antonio Jimenez.

Up to 20,000 film-lovers are expected to attend the San Diego Latino Film Festival, March 10 to 20, in a Mission Valley theater. The festival is set to present 180 films plus stars such as Julio Bracho, Demian Bichir, Adal Ramones and Carmen Salinas.

Festival-goers will be able to attend afterparties, mingle with celebrities and, most of all, watch feature films, documentaries and shorts from across Latin America, the United States and Spain.

“Hybrid Identities” features six artists from Tijuana, who provide not only their art but also their perceptions of the city, and their ability as artists to transform the very social and political environment.

“We initiated the documentary as a reaction to the negative media stories about Tijuana, knowing that our students need to hear positive stories about Tijuana, the arts and culture that have long been part of the fabric of this dynamic city,” Meehan said.

“It’s an excellent documentary and it’s timely,” Virginia Escalante, English professor at City College, said last semester when the documentary was being screened at the school’s International Book fair. “Border issues are important and it gives a different point of view… that challenges the stereotypes.”

As it does every year, the festival has a special focus and this year is “Hecho en Brazil: a Celebration of Brazilian Cinema” and also the “Jewish Latino Film Showcase.”

Ethan van Thillo, executive director at the Media Arts Center San Diego, the organization that presents the festival, said some 120 special guests and celebrities have confirmed their attendance for the 18th annual event, including Xavier Lopez (Chabelo) and Carmen Salinas.

“What we do with the festival, an eleven-day event and 180 films and 120 guests, is truly amazing. Other festivals are spending millions,” van Thillo said when comparing his $200,000 budget to other multi-million dollar organizations.

He said that attendance has gone up since the festival began to use multiple screens to show films at the same time. “We are one of the biggest festivals in the country,” he added.

Other genres being showcased are Cine Mujer, Cine Gay, Sci Fi, Historical, Horror and Fantasy. Several Latin American films recently submitted to the Oscars will also be featured, 2010 saw Argentine film “Secretos de sus ojos” win the Foreign Language Oscar.

“The festival is an experience. Don’t be afraid by the amount of films, just show up to the theater between 6 and 9 any day of the festival and pick one. You will see a great film,” said van Thillo.

Van Thillo encourages the San Diego community to give the Latino Film Festival a chance, to check out the films because, “unfortunately,” some of them may never make it to San Diego again or ever be on the Big Screen or on DVD.

“(The documentary) should be a positive experience for students and community members. We encourage our City family to turn out and support the festival and the screening of Hybrid Identities,” Meehan said.

“It is special to screen in our own back yard,” Castaneda said. “Although I screened a film at the festival in 2008 this time is more special because It was a collaborative effort.”

Funding for the documentary was provided in part by the City College Foundation, the Radio TV Department, and the World Cultures Program.

“Hybrid Identities: Artistic Voices from the Border”
Saturday, March 19, 2011 @ 2:30 p.m.
Ultrastar Mission Valley Cinemas Hazard Center
7510 Hazard Center Drive
Cost: $10 per person
For more information about the Latino Film Festival visit: www.sdlatinofilm.com