The San Diego Latino Film Festival To Showcase the Most Influential Latino Films Of the Last 20 Years

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The multifaceted Latino experience will be showcased at the San Diego Latino Film Festival (SDLFF) via art house flicks, documentaries, independent films and, yes, even big budget productions.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the festival running from March 7th to the 17th at the Digiplex Mission Valley Cinemas, has established itself as one of the oldest and most respected Latino film festivals in the U.S., bringing cinematic storytelling from throughout Latin America that transcends languages, borders, cultures and stereotypes to the San Diego/Tijuana region.

Hitting different niches and representing various Latino communities through showcases like Cine Gay and Borders on Film, this year, the film fest is celebrating its 20th cumple with their main showcase: The Top 10 Groundbreaking and Influential Latino films of the Past Two Decades. Making that list, among others, are: “Amores Perros” (Mexico), “Fresa y Chocolate” (Cuba), “Abre los Ojos” (Spain), “Nostalgia de Luz” (Chile) and “Central do Brazil” (Brazil).

Meanwhile, the 2013 SDLFF’s movie lineup includes 160 international films that were selected out of 650 plus submissions. These include the much buzzed about “Hecho en Mexico” documentary that explores contemporary Mexican culture through music with a cast that includes actor Diego Luna, Café Tacvba and writer Elena Poniatowska; “Filly Brown” starring the late Jenni Rivera making her film debut as a convict mother, and the latest Sun Dance Film Festival ‘It Girl’, Gina Rodríguez, who plays her daughter; “Heleno” Brazil’s biopic of Heleno de Freitas, the country’s first wild and self-destructive soccer star played by Rodrigo Santoro, and Chile’s “Violeta Went to Heaven”, a portrait of Chilean folklorist and singer, Violeta Parra, played by Francisca Gavilán.

“It used to be that when people thought of Latino films, they would think of Edward James Olmos and East LA” recalls Ethan Van Thillo, the SDLFF’s founder.

The UC Santa Cruz alumnus began the festival 20 years ago as part of a class project after it was proposed by a Chicano professor of his, and he was later joined by on-campus Chicano film makers, with whom he says acted on a “void” they saw for Latino films in the U.S., even in border cities like San Diego and Tijuana.

The former Latin American studies major eventually brought the concept with him to San Diego, holding binational screenings in Tijuana, a tradition that continues in this year’s San Diego Latino Film Festival.

“You’re not being represented on TV; you’re not being represented in Hollywood…” Van Thillo remembers thinking.

Today, aside from disseminating Hispanic cinema, he cites three purposes of the SDLFF: 1) to break stereotypes, 2) to provide role models for young Latinos, and 3) to provide a medium for non-Latinos to experience Latino culture and film.

For the entire schedule of films and celebrity appearances at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, visit Caile and help support Latino cinema!