Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
With its origins as a student film festival 26 years ago, the San Diego Latino Film Festival (SDLFF) is now one of the largest and most highly regarded Latino film festivals in the world. In its history, more than 325,000 people have attended 3,880 films and videos from Latin America, Mexico, Spain and the U.S. This year’s fest promises an 11-day celebration of Latino cinema, art and culture. Presented and produced by Media Arts Center San Diego, it takes place March 14-24 at AMC Fashion Valley 18 and Digital Gym Cinema in North Park, showcasing more than 170 movies, documentaries, shorts and special events.
Following a jam-packed opening night featuring a press conference, party, concerts and a pre-screening mixer with filmmakers and actors, the SDLFF hits full swing with a diverse selection of films. For the film enthusiast there are full festival passes and also individual tickets on sale from $9-$12 per film.
On March 16, the SDLFF presents the Sabor Latino – Food Beer & Wine Festival at the River Plaza Stage in Fashion Valley Mall, pairing the best of Latin cuisine in San Diego with breweries and wineries in both San Diego and Baja California (tickets $20-$50).
During the festival’s 11-day run, it will hold Sonido Latino Concerts from 6-9 p.m. at the River Plaza Stage in Fashion Valley Mall, then conclude with a Closing Night Awards Ceremony & Concert at the Music Box in Downtown from 5:30-7:30 p.m., followed by an after-party and live concert from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. (tickets $20-$180).
There is much to choose from with this year’s showcase. Featured selections will provide entertainment, education, and insight into lives, music, love, sports, television, and more — all told in a variety of ways through the eye of the Latino filmmakers.
This year’s ¡Somos! Cine LGBTQ+ films include a wide variety of movies that cover many aspects of the LGBT community.
From Guatemala, “José” follows a 19-year-old in one of the world’s most dangerous, impoverished, religious and socially conservative countries. He lives his life resigning himself to his own life circumstances until he meets a migrant from rural Caribbean coast, which leads to an unexpectedly passionate and self-reflective period of his life. This is a compelling film that shows the daily struggles of gay men in Guatemala. José spends his days working and trying to hook up with men through dating apps. He finds love, but with both of their lives more dictated by the local religious culture and poverty, it is difficult for them to retain the relationship. The cinemaphotography is very well done, as well as the acting of the leading and supporting characters. There are several sex scenes throughout the movie, but they fit in well giving the film a truly natural feel to the reality of their lives. This is a film that should be on the “to be seen” list.
“Bixa Travesty,” from Brazil, is a documentary of transgender singer Linn da Quebrada, who uses the female trans body as a means of political expression and deconstructs how alpha males conceive themselves.
“Las Chuntá” is about a small town in Mexico where men transform into women and become the Chuntá once a year. The story follows two gender-bending gangs of dancers as they face off in a struggle between queer identity and powerful traditions.
From Chile, a documentary follows the discrimination that a trans Chilean midwife faces throughout her life in order to live her identity in “Claudia Tocada por la Luna.”
Columbia brings “Eva + Candela,” the story of two women that meet and over time evolves into a conventional relationship, something neither ever wanted.
“Las Herederas” follows Chela and Chiquita, both from wealthy families and together for 30 years. Their lives change when Chiquita is imprisoned, which sends Chela on a different path that unlocks the barriers of her past and opens new possibilities for her future.
“Retablo,” from Peru, follows a 14-year-old boy who sees his father in a state that shatters his entire world. Trapped in a chauvinistic environment, he has to deal with trauma in silence with all that is happening to him.
Brazil brings another film, “Tinta Bruta,” about a socially repressed young male that only comes out during chatroom performances where he strips and smears neon paint on his body.
¡Somos! Cine LGBTQ+ Shorts is a collection of seven short films about love, horror, occupations, sexual exploration, the struggle against traditional culture and violence against the LGBT community.
The lineup of films in this festival is nothing less than phenomenal, with several films coming from filmmakers in San Diego. Many films will give audiences the opportunity to meet the producers, filmmakers and stars of the movies, making this festival an interactive experience for film lovers of all types. With a large selection of showcase films, each creates a unique view that features certain countries, genres and themes — many of them highlighting what is happening in countries around the world today. From fact to fiction, the films cover all facets of life, love, politics, news, human rights and more, seen from the eyes of experienced, up-and-coming and student filmmakers. SDLFF strives to provide films to the Latino community and beyond by using innovation, original and thought-provoking works that are about, by and for the Latino community.
For a full lineup of films, descriptions, show times and special events, visit 2019.sdlatinofilm.com.
—Albert Fulcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.