Regional film festivals may not get as much press as the glittering city-based international ones. But they serve just as crucial a role in exposing audiences everywhere to the best that cinema has to offer. This year’s Mendocino Film Festival, now in its thirteenth year, is a great example. Not only is it using its program to bring films from all around the world to this coastal California town but it’s planned some great special screening Q&As that should pique your interest.
For starters, if you’ve never caught Gregory Nava‘s classic Mi Familia (My Family), this is your chance. The 1995 film, a chronicle of three generations an immigrant family’s history, boasts a who’s who of Latino talent. It features Jimmy Smits, Esai Morales, Edward James Olmos, Lupe Ontiveros, and yes, even a young Jennifer Lopez. Following the retrospective screening the fest will be hosting a Q&A with Nava, Smits and Morales. Similarly, if you’ve already realized watching Coco on your laptop doesn’t quite measure up, be sure to catch the Pixar flick on the big screen. It’ll be followed by a Q&A with cultural consultant Marcela Davison Aviles, who’ll no doubt shed insight into what went into making this Oscar-winning film.
But if new and exciting documentary indie cinema is what you’re looking for, the fest has a wide-ranging selection for you choose from. Those looking for a music doc on one of music’s queerest icons should seek out Chavela. Shot with a kind of Behind the Music vibe, this doc delves deep into the wonder and tragedy of Chavela Vargas’ career. It may be the only documentary where you’ll hear Pedro Almodóvar wax poetic on the singer minutes after seeing a slew of elegant black and white photos that show Chavela hobnobbing with some of Hollywood’s most glittering stars.
Dealing with an issue closer to the Bay Area, Ovarian Psycos takes viewers on a bike ride like no other. Ostensibly a portrait of the Ovarian Psycos Cycle Brigade in Los Angeles, Joanna Sokolowski and Kate Trumbull-LaValle’s documentary is a sun-dappled look at encroaching gentrification and the brown feminist women who are picking up their bikes to create community-based action to keep themselves and their neighborhood safe. Whether cycling at night in organized rides or sharing tearful confessionals about family dramas, the brave Ovas remind audiences that what’s most important is to be there for one another. Elsewhere, you’ll also be able to catch films like Brimstone & Glory (on the National Pyrotechnic Festival in Tultepec, Mexico) and ¡Las Sandinistas! (on the women who fought in Nicaragua’s Sandinista Revolution), all part of the fest’s 38-film program.
The thirteenth annual Mendocino Film Festival runs June 1-3, 2018.