SDLFF – Frontera Filmmakers

F1The San Diego Latino Film Festival shows a variety of themed short film blocks. Every year I make sure to check out one of their showcases. This year I attended Frontera Filmmakers, featuring movies made by directors near our border town of San Diego and Tijuana. There has been a resurgence in filmmakers like no other time in history. The mix of films ranged from documentaries to horror to suspense, all unique in their storytelling approach.

One of the films that I enjoyed was the documentary Chicano Legacy: Students Empowering Students, directed by Horacio Jones, told about the struggles that occurred and are still occurring at UCSD, in terms of race relations and education. Many minority students at the school felt that they were not being represented or that there were even many people like themselves on campus. After some racial comments went up on social media by a fraternity house, students protested for change and argued that behavior like so, would not be tolerated on their campus. From there, they fought to have a Chicano mural be put up on campus. Through much blood, sweat, and tears, the students brought it to fruition with the help of Mario Torero, a local Peruvian artist. The documentary gives us the details of how it all happened and how the mural itself was created out of stone tiles made in China. It was an intricate process and the final reveal showcased a beautiful mural featuring Cesar Chavez, Barrio Logan, and the students who rallied for change. This was an eye-opening film for me, as I live in San Diego and had no idea that those events took place at UCSD. As a former student of UCSB, I myself have felt the same way as those students, as my race was hardly represented on campus. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and recommend it to everyone, students and non-students alike.

F2Another film that really caught my eye was El Amor No Existe (Love Does Not Exist), a short film directed by Fernando Fisher, about a treacherous love triangle involving a husband, wife, and the husband’s brother. The wife is mean and unhappy with her lot in life and seeks out the comfort of her husband’s brother while he is away at work as a police detective. The husband has no idea what is going on behind his back, but it is all revealed to him on the fateful day where he forgets his gun at home. To top it off, his teenage son, on the same day tells his father that he is gay. He goes to school on that same day and professes his love to another boy, who then proceeds to beat him up for his revelation. When the husband encounters his wife and brother having sex, what happens from there is suspenseful and dramatic and shocking to boot. When the son witnesses everything that happened with his family it becomes a heartbreaking tale. By the end we realize through the film’s story that love truly does not exist in our world. If you get a chance to see this, I would check it out because it was mind-blowing and interesting to watch unravel.

Only a few days to catch this and more at the San Diego Latino Film Festival:

Cirque du Soleil’s – LUZIA – U.S. Premiere

If you’re looking for a magical night out, go no further than Cirque du Soleil’s 17th show presented under the Big Top, LUZIA. It’s its 38th original production since 1984, they have performed in more than 400 cities on six continents. The massive white-and-gold Big Top can be seen from the highway at San Francisco’s AT&T park. You’ll not only be taken to another world but you’ll be experiencing it first, the Bay Area is its U.S. premiere.


The dreamlike experience takes you through the beauty and culture of Mexico. Follow the annual migration of the monarch butterfly and enter the Mayan gateway to the afterlife. You’ll encounter a jaguar, hummingbirds and a call to Cháak, the Mayan god of rain. That call brings about a beautiful rainfall on stage in which images are projected on. The audience was in awe as the pools of water appeared and disappeared in the blink of an eye. The effects summoning the meeting of the sun and moon mingled with the exceptional acrobatic skill that is expected of Cirque Du Soleil, created a transformational experience.    

IMG_7206   A team of more than 60 men and women worked on raising the massive tent space utilizing more than 100 supporting poles with seating for up to 2,600 people over the course of 8 days. The 2,000 tons of equipment is transported via 65 trailer trucks. The performances are not the only thing you’ll be admiring on your night out. The production ends in San Francisco on January 29, 2017. It’s next stop will be in San Jose, CA from February 9 to March 19, 2017.

See it while it’s in the neighborhood!

For tickets, visit  

Do you really want to miss this!?

American Tumbleweeds – Book Review

American Tumbleweeds by Marta Elva tells the story of the Ramirez family who reside in El Paso, Texas during the 1960’s. They split time between Texas and their patria, Juarez, Mexico. The story revolves around the coming of age of Inez, the border towns, and how adult decisions influence children. That’s the simplified way to describe the book, as it’s hard to encapsulate all the intricacies that are involved in growing up bi-cultural and in Inez’s case, empathetic.


The family dynamic is changed when the father Ramón goes to jail. We see how his wife Katalina and daughter Inez deal with their emotions in the situation and how they got where they are. Elva did a great job of including how outside ignorance can rob the world of brilliant minds and ruin tender hearts by stripping them of opportunities and belittling them based on their race, gender and/or culture. It also exemplifies the need to be defined that comes from outsiders and some of the external and internal struggles that causes.

The mom Katalina has never attended University but loves books. She’s a thinker and a doer. She works hard in and out of the home to her mother-in-law’s dismay. Katalina’s life is heavily directed by her gender. She was kicked out of her home by her father after staying out late one-time. This “unlady” like behavior forces her into marriage and leads to the United States. Her love of knowledge would have you thinking she could excel beyond what’s expected of her. Unfortunately, when she tries to learn English she gets disillusioned when she is ridiculed for having an accent.

“After attending several classes, I decided my free time was better spent with my children. It didn’t help when people laugh at my accent. How come people don’t make fun of French or British accents? Now, I speak English only if it’s an emergency”

On the other hand, Ramón is educated and is known around town for his intelligence. However, this intelligence is not welcomed in the United States. When they hear his accent and see his skin he’s immediately dismissed and can only find menial jobs. This leads him to the life of crime that eventually turns his family upside down. His mother Amalia doesn’t think he’s the sole person to blame for his choices.

“Yet the land of opportunity, like most fraternities in the world, carefully selects the recipients of its rewards. Perhaps JFK would have changed this, but even he paid a price for his aspiration.”

The significance of these moments, the dual culture, racism, and sexism boil down to Inez and how she navigates herself from childhood to teenager. She was raised partially by her father’s mother in Juarez until she was able to attend school in the United States. This causes another riff as she sees her role to Inez as more mother than grandmother. Inez is an observer who absorbs all her experiences with ease without realizing how they’re changing her. The micro-aggressions directed towards her race, gender, and believed vulnerability leaves her with questions she’s still not sure how to deal with. For instance, she’s too scared to tell her teacher how her name is supposed to be pronounced. In a small but significant moment in the book we see that she realizes that she can also be a cause of this type of hurt, “I remember the time my friends Linda and Sylvia asked Beverly, one of the Negro girls at school, if we could touch her hair. Beverly looked sad when we acted like we were touching something strange. I promise never, ever to ask to touch anyone’s hair again.”

“What’s creepy is men gawking at my body, saying stupid things. I don’t even know what they’re talking about”.

The themes in the book are based in the 1960’s but could easily be told today. The complexities that are added to Inez’s life due to her family’s decisions come at a cost. She’s forced to grow up fast but has the freedom to dream beyond her small town upbringing; in the United States feminism is blooming. After meeting Inez you’ll want to know where life took her. Did she get disillusioned, empowered, or end up craving the simple life like she experienced in Juarez, Mexico. The beauty of how Elva tells the story is that you’ll find yourself relating to Inez and at the same time learning about an experience that is so often ignored yet, extremley vital to the history of the United States.

Photo credit: Gail Berreitter


About the Author:

Marta Elva was born in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, and raised in El Paso, Texas. Her career as a writer, producer, editor, and camera operator in television and independent film spans over three decades and includes several Emmy-nominated shows, notably PBS WNET New York’s Setting the Stage. She and her husband live on Florida’s Gulf Coast.






SX Liquors Presents Trey Songz – NYC/NJ Promo Tour

Grammy Nominated R&B singer, songwriter, and producer Trey Songz, will be hitting up the spots in NYC and NJ for a second time from Wednesday, March 2nd through Sunday, March 6th to promote SX Liquors. Their first promotional tour was in  August, last year. The line of premium spirits has been gaining traction since their partnership announcement on Valentine’s Day 2015. The “S” in SX’s name stands for Sensual and the “X” comes from eXotic. It promises to be one of the sexiest drinks out there.


The target market is women, and the drinks are described as having a “unique and softer taste ideal for the female palette”. There will be tastings, bottle signings and if you’re lucky, a selfie to make your friends jealous. The line includes two tequilas, two rums, and two vodkas, all made in Mexico.

Songz has topped the charts since his 2005 debut “I Gotta Make It”. He recently released “Intermission I & II” in 2015, a Reloaded addition of 2014’s “Trigga”, and a brand new video, 2016’s “Blessed”. The full range of available liquors is also featured in Songz video “About You”. 

Want to try it but it’s not available in your city? Join the #DemandSX campaign and demand it in your area:

If you’re in NYC here’s your chance to get a taste and meet Trey Songz in person. 

Wednesday, March 2nd

Marquee – 289 10th Ave New York, NY 10001


Thursday, March 3rd

STK – 1114 Ave of the Americas New York, NY 10036


Bliss Lounge – 955 Allwood Rd, Clifton, NJ 07012


Purlieu – 36-4 34th St NY, NY 11106


Friday, March 4th

World of Wines & Whiskey – 666 Lexington Ave NY, NY 10022


W Hotel Times Square – 1567 Broadway New York, NY 10036


Milk River – 960 Atlantic Ave Brooklyn, NY 11238


Amadeus – 7951 Albion Ave Queens, NY 11373



Saturday, March 5th

Sweet Spot –  22-72 31st Street Astoria, NY 11105


Stage 48 – 606 W 48th Street New York, NY 10036


Lust – 225 47th Street Brooklyn, NY 11220


Sunday, March 6th

Canarsie Plaza Liquors – 8925 Avenue D, Brooklyn, NY 11236


Haus –  637 265 New York, NY 10013


Aces –  3210 37th Ave Long Island City, NY 11101


For the most up to date information:


Rituals + Remembrance at OMCA

One of the most complicated parts of life is the inevitable, loss. In time we know we will lose someone and we ourselves will be a loss to someone when we depart. How we deal with this often depends on our beliefs and culture.

Rituals + RemembranceThe tradition of Dia De Los Muertos is celebrated every year from October 31 to November 2nd. This is when people take the time to honor the deceased who are believed to return on November 1st (children souls) and November 2nd (adult souls). It’s a way of embracing death as the continuation of life. Altars are created in celebration and include “ofrendas” to please the souls during their return. They can include some of their favorite things, food, flowers, skulls, water, incense, and photos. Although it’s often associated with only Mexico due to our proximity, it originated in Mesoamerica (Central Mexico down to Northern Costa Rica) over 1,000 years ago.

The Oakland Museum of California explores this tradition and how other cultures honor their deceased in their exhibit, “Rituals + Remembrance”. The work represents elements of Buddhist, African American, Filipino, Hawaiian, Japanese, Chicano, and Latino rituals.

Rituals + RemembranceA cross takes up one of the walls with the words “No Olvidados” (Not forgotten) donated by the Border Angels organization. They’re an all-volunteer, non-profit organization advocating for the human rights of all people. Every year there are many deaths along the border due to dehydration, weather and hate crimes. Simply providing water along migrant crossing routes has combatted some of the preventable deaths that include adults and children. You don’t have to know someone to grieve them.

Rituals + RemembranceTucked in one of the corners are giant photos with a rainbow painted on the floor. This is dedicated to LGBT relatives who had to either hide their true selves or not be fully acknowledged. Their partners were often referred to as roommates, friends, or not at all. We put so much pressure on each other to live a certain way even though we know our time on earth is not infinite.

Another wall is covered with shadow boxes created by participants of the Maternal Access and Linkages for Desired Reproductive Health (MADRE) program entitled, Nuestros Angelitos (Our Little Angels). Each shadow box includes memorabilia of children they lost during pregnancy or at birth.Rituals + Remembrance

There are many more dedications and emotions explored including one created by MetWest High School, where students searched and honored their ancestry. It will have you thinking of your own losses and how others will one day remember you.

You have until January 3, 2016 to check it out. OMCA is free all day the first Sunday of every month.