Latino cinema for all tastes

Festival to run March 10-20 in Fashion Valley


The Latino Film Festival, March 10 to 20, presents a wide variety of styles and genres, including the movie “ELvira te daria mi vida pero la estoy usando” (pictured) with Cecilia Suarez and Luis Gerardo Mendez. Courtesy of San Diego Film Festival.

Ricky Soltero

A total immersion into the Latino culture that is often ignored by mainstream media. That’s what the 23rd Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival will deliver during a week-long run starting March 10 at AMC Fashion Valley 18.

The festival highlights Latino regions through its 10 showcases and art shows.

“There’s a perception of what Latino cinema is. This will give everyone a better perspective of what it truly is,” said founder and Executive Director Ethan Van Thillo during a presentation at San Diego City College.

“We do it because we want a better representation of the Latino community. Positive portrayals,” said Van Thillo.

Van Thillo visited City College on March 3 to promote the festival, offering a sneak p of various short films and extending an invitation for students to attend the event as volunteers.

The festival will include feature films, documentaries and short films from Mexico, United States, Argentina, Spain and Peru.

Some of the most recognizable Latino movie stars included in the movies’ casts are Salma Hayek, Jaime Camil, Gael Garcia Bernal, Damián Alcázar and Rosario Dawson.

The festival started as a student film festival that focused on works by Latinos and the Latino experience. Van Thillo focused on bringing the then-ignored Latino filmmakers from East Los Angeles and across the border.

The festival has now developed into one of the larger and well-respected Latino film festivals in the country.

Among this year’s roster there are three standouts groups, Frontera Filmmakers, a showcase that features films by San Diego and Tijuana filmmakers; Cine Gay, a showcase of the best LGBT Latino cinema; and Un Mundo Extraño, with films that range from frighteningly realistic to dreamily fantastical.

“There are plenty of different styles and genres,” said Van Thillo.

“There will be something for everyone. We like to program in a very diverse way,” said Moises Esparza, programmer for the festival.

Growing in attendance each year since its inception, 20,000 plus attendees are expected this year.

“A lot of these films don’t have distribution deals, so the Latino Film Festival offers a unique platform for them to showcase their work to a wider audience,” said Esparza

The film festival will kick off on March 10 with an opening night concert and party featuring Grammy-Award nominated band Los Amigos Invisibles. The festival ends on March 20. Screenings will take place at AMC Fashion Valley 18 and the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

General admission and student discounted tickets are available through the official site of San Diego Latino Film Festival.