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:

Film Review: Nos Llaman Guerreras

NLG3The documentary film Nos Llaman Guerreras (They Call Us Warriors) directed by Jennifer Socorro, Edwin Corona and the late David Alonso, centers on the Venezuelan women’s soccer team and their fight to win the first World Cup for their country. What makes these women different from all other female soccer players, they had to fight against their country’s political and economic strife to get there. Their coach explains that when he first started with these women, some were so poor that they could not afford toothpaste or deodorant, let alone have the funds to travel and compete with a soccer team. Against all odds, these women battle poverty and their livelihoods just to join the team. The film showcases the personal lives of many of these women, taking us deep into their rural communities and their homes. Yerliane Moreno’s town was so badly flooded that she thought she would never be able to leave her family to play soccer, but regardless she sacrificed everything to be on the team and play with all her heart.


NLG2In this film, we also get to see how playing soccer enables them to be lifted out of poverty into having a better life. The star and key player of the team, Deyna Castellanos, got recruited to play at Florida State University and was given a full scholarship. We see Deyna leave Florida and come back to play at the World Cup with her team. Despite being gone for so long, she picks up the rhythm and plays to her best with her team as if no time has lapsed between them. When the women make it to the World Cup in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, they are faced with the best teams in the world. We see them fight and push through every adversity and in doing so, they become national heroes for their country. Their story was so inspirational that female soccer players in Venezuela increased by 97% after the World Cup, only further establishing them as role models to future generations of players. This film’s story was beautifully crafted and told, and by the end of the film, you cannot help, but become a fan of these women.




Check out this and more at the San Diego Latino Film Festival until March 24. 

26th Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival

sdlff bannerThis year’s San Diego Latino Film Festival (SDLFF) from March 14 – 24, 2019 marks its 26th year. It will take place at the AMC 18 Fashion Valley theaters and Digital Gym CINEMA in North Park.

Started as a student film festival by Ethan van Thillo (SDLFF’s Executive Director), it is now one of the largest celebrations of Latino film in the world. It’s not rare to run into names like Edward James Olmos and Kate del Castillo. “I am confident that through the power of cinema and storytelling, we can continue to break down walls and create a more just and equitable world for future generations” said van Thillo. SDLFF was born out of a desire to challenge the negative stereotypes about the Latino experience in movies and to give Latino filmmakers a chance to show the world the realities and richness behind the Latino identity.

This year’s celebrations will include a special screening of the 15 finalists of the Migrant Voices FilmCompetition highlighting the current humanitarian crisis unfolding along the San Diego-Baja California Border. Also, a tribute to iconic Mexican actor Damián Alcázar, a 26th Annual ‘Classics Film Showcase’, 75 + guest filmmakers/celebrities, and the 26th Annual Awards Ceremony Gala to be held March 23rd at Music Box. Plus, over 160 films from Latin America, the United States, and Spain, celebrity appearances, live concerts & performances at the Sonido Latino stage, and the 4th Annual Sabor Latino – Food, Beer & Wine Fest.

Highlight films include:

Soccer documentary (Mexico) Chivas, La Película; romantic comedy (Mexico) La Boda De Mi Mejor Amigo; music documentary (Panamá / Argentina / Colombia) Yo No Me Llamo Rubén Blades; boxing drama (Mexico/Finland) Bayoneta; sports comedy (Spain) Campeones; drama(Paraguay / Germany / Brazil / Uruguay / Norway /France) Las Herederas; adventure drama (Mexico/Colombia) Cómprame Un Revólver; mystery drama (Mexico) Dos Veces Tú.

sdlffTickets and Festival Passes are now on sale. An all-access special *VIP Pass* can be purchased for $300. A Festival Pass; which includes Media Arts Membership can be purchased for $225 (includes over 160 films, front of the line access, entrance to Opening and Closing Night celebrations and more. Film Pass can be purchased for $120 (includes entrance to 11 films, + priority access). Passes are non-transferable. Individual ticket sale prices are: $12.00 General Audience, $10.00 Students/Seniors, $9.00 Members.

For festival and ticket information visit the festival’s website at or call 619-230-1938.

SDLFF Kicks Off 25 Years

The annual Media Arts Center San Diego Latino Film Festival (SDLFF) kicked off this year’s event with their opening media party on February 22nd. Rich in culture and history, the SDLFF has been delighting and engaging fans for 25 years, and the media party did not disappoint. Hosted at One Bunk in Barrio Logan, the festivities featured legendary actors such as Pepe Serna, tequila infused cocktails, delicious food from Cocina 35, live music, and silk-screeners making festival shirts on site.


The 2018 film festival will run from March 15-25, 2018 and will feature movies at both AMC Fashion Valley and North Park’s Digital Gym Cinema. This year’s celebrations will include tributes to filmmakers and actors, a Virtual Reality Lounge, and live performances at the Sonido Latino stage. The Sabor Latino, food, beer, and wine festival, will also be returning with celebrated Latino chefs cooking up traditional and new Latin food, along with craft beers on tap, and Latin wines to sip on. All proceeds from Sabor Latino go to the Media Art Center San Diego’s youth education and outreach programs.

SDLFFThere were many filmmakers and actors in attendance at the party and I had the opportunity to speak with Patricia Chica. She directed the LGBTQ-centered film Morning After, which will be featured at the festival. The film is a coming of age drama about sexual fluidity and depicts a group of millennials who refuse to define themselves with the labels that society has put on them. As Patricia mentioned, this film is important in the environment we are living in now and is especially important for Latinos who may have traditional upbringings to understand that labels do not have to define them as a person. The film sounds exciting and an important one to watch, get your tickets and check this one out.

Festival passes are now on sale, along with a special edition 25th Anniversary VIP Pass for $325. Regular single tickets can be purchased starting March 1st, either on-site at the theaters or online. This is an enlightening and fun experience not to miss.



26th Annual Mama’s Day Tasting Extravaganza Fundraiser

The 26th annual Mama’s Day, benefiting Mama’s Kitchen, is scheduled for Friday, May 12 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla at Aventine located at 3777 La Jolla Village Drive. The fundraising event has always been a favorite of ours.  The event features more than 55 chefs from San Diego’s finest restaurants, hotels and catering companies.

Check out some of the mouth watering samples that are prepared for you while supporting an amazing organization. Many of these restaurants support Mama’s Day year after year.

Mama’s Day 2015
Mama’s Day 2016

The event helps to raise critical funds for Mama’s Kitchen’s mission to deliver hot, nutritious meals free of charge to local men, women and children affected by AIDS or cancer. Last year, Mama’s Day raised $165,000, which provided 51,000 home-delivered meals.

Guests enjoy food, music and fun throughout the evening.  Guests can also bid on  silent auction items and/or participate in an opportunity drawing. 

It’s an amazing event worth so much more than the ticket price. We hope you can make it! 

The event is presented by Nordstrom and hosted by Sycuan, Mama’s Day pre-sale tickets are available for just $150 per person and $175 at the door. Premium VIP tickets are available for $250 each, and include early access at 5:30 p.m. to an exclusive VIP dining area and pre-party featuring a private culinary presentation by Chef Bernard Guillas of The Marine Room before the doors open to general admission attendees at 6:30 p.m. VIPs also enjoy a full hosted bar for two hours.

Tickets may be purchased online at

About Mama’s Kitchen
Mama’s Kitchen was founded in 1990 when volunteers from the AIDS Assistance Fund discovered that many of their clients were becoming too ill to take care of themselves. They realized that a reliable home meal delivery service was needed to ensure that these individuals would continue to receive nutritious, life-sustaining food. In 2004, Mama’s Pantry was opened to provide individuals with HIV/AIDS who are able to prepare meals the opportunity to supplement their nutritional needs. During the past 26 years, Mama’s Kitchen has served over eight million meals and has never turned away a client who qualified for our services. Our commitment to our clients remains unchanged and today the organization has expanded its service to San Diegans affected by either AIDS or cancer. Mama’s Kitchen provides three meals a day, for every day of the year, free of charge, to approximately 350 men, women, and children in San Diego County. 



Canyon dig it! – Los Penasquitos Canyon Reserve

Los Pensaquitos Ana Pines 5

It might not be Yosemite, but Los Penasquitos Canyon Reserve in San Diego has plenty of beautiful trails to explore. One of the best ways to see this 4,000 acre suburban wilderness is on a moderate 7-mile (round-trip) mountain bike ride.

Los Pensaquitos Ana Pines 1The well-marked, dog-friendly, multi-use hardpacked trail can be taken from the reserve entrance. There aren’t many elevation changes so it’s great for a leisurely walk or for beginner mountain bikers like us.

Los Pensaquitos Ana Pines 6

One of the best rewards of the trail is the waterfall cascading through the volcanic rocks about 3 miles out. Well, to be accurate it’s more of a stream than a waterfall. But we loved soaking our feet in the cold water.

Los Pensaquitos Ana Pines 3

Things to remember before heading out; bring plenty of water and sunblock, it is hot out there and most of the trail is not shaded. A 20 minute drive from Hillcrest makes it a great choice for a quick getaway from it all.

Great Hike or Bike! 

*The scenery of the canyon includes:

  • a waterfall cascading through volcanic rock;
  • a streamside forest of giant California live oaks;
  • groves of majestic sycamore trees;
  • a year-round stream populated by Pacific tree frogs, crayfish and largemouth bass;
  • a freshwater marsh hosting a variety of aquatic birds including great blue herons, egrets, mallard ducks and more; mule deer, bobcat, coyote and raccoon are just a few of the mammals that can be observed throughout the Preserve.

Los Pensaquitos Ana Pines 4

*Info from:


Whales: Giants of the Deep at San Diego Natural History Museum

The traveling exhibition Whales: Giants of the Deep at theNat: San Diego Natural History Museum until September 5th gives San Diegans and San Diego tourists an up-close view into the environment and history of these stunning creatures. The display has already mesmerized audiences across the U.S. at the American Museum of Natural History, the Field Museum, and most recently the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Being located along the coast where you can get a glimpse of gray whales during their breeding season from December through April and currently Blue whales from June until September, it seems only logical that this exhibit would be a hit here.

Photo provided by: theNAT

The interactive exhibition feeds your curiosity by providing highlights of their biology and diversity with displays of whale skeletons, multimedia displays, and rarely seen cultural artifacts. “Our fascination with and affinity for whales was one of the many reasons we decided to bring Whales: Giants of the Deep to San Diego,” said Dr. Michael Hager, president and CEO at the San Diego Natural History Museum. “The exhibition allows guests to explore these magnificent creatures with a series of informative and hands-on exhibits that allow you to take a deeper dive into our vast oceanic ecosystems. It also gives us the opportunity to highlight the whale research we’re doing here at the Museum.”

Photo provided by: theNAT

Photo provided by: theNAT

The exhibit from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is approximately 7,000 square feet, one of the largest in the world. You will see life-size and scale models of whales common to the South Pacific areas as well as weapons and adornments made from their bones. Due to the sensitivity of some of the rare specimens visitors are prohibited from taking photographs.

Schedule in 20 minutes to catch Whales 3D across from the exhibit presented by Jean-Michel Cousteau. The film takes you from the coral reefs of the Bahamas to Kingdom of Tonga for closer encounters. You’ll learn about the different environments and species of Whales and sadly, the environmental threats humans have created in their home leaving them vulnerable to extinction. The film is shown twice daily and included with paid admission.

Photo provided by: theNAT

Exhibition Hours and Admission:

Whales and Museum will be open from 10 AM to 5 PM daily. The exhibition will be included with paid general admission (no upcharge required) and located on the Lower Level of the Museum. Pricing: Adult ($19); Senior (62+), Military with ID, and Students ($17); Youth (7-17) $14; Child (3-6) $11; children 2 and under and Museum members are free.

The Museum is located at 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 in Balboa Park. For more information, call 877.946.7797 or visit Follow theNAT on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on Facebook.



Mama’s Day 2016

On the Friday evening before Mother’s Day, the Mama’s Day 2016 event kicked off its’ 26th year at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla, the fundraising fete is the season’s must-attend culinary event of the year. The occasion featured over 55 chefs from some of San Diego’s most premium restaurants, hotels, and catering companies, those such as The Marine Room, Loews Coronado Bay Resort and Spa, Waypoint Public and more. 

Mama's Day 2016

The Mama’s Day event helps to raise funds for Mama’s Kitchen, a non-profit organization that prepares and delivers nutritious meals to San Diegans suffering with AIDS or cancer and who are too ill to shop and cook for themselves. Mama’s Kitchen is run by hundreds of volunteers, businesses, and community supporters, who strive to create food that is wholesome and healthy, and to help out families who are in need of this crucial assistance.

Mama's Day 2016

The event was hosted by local chef Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien, who brought his flare and love of food for the eighth consecutive year. Guests enjoyed food, tasty beverages, and music, which only added to the excitement of the night. Many of the dishes served were out of this world delightful, ranging the gambit from seared ahi tuna, ravioli’s filled with duck confit, pork belly dishes, quail eggs, uni risotto and the list goes on and on. There was a dish for every palette. On top of the savory samples were the decadent desserts, tiramisu, chocolate dipped strawberries, key lime pie and my personal favorite the honey cinnamon walnut gelato served appropriately on a cone.

Mama's Day 2016

Mama’s Day was presented by Nordstrom and hosted by Sycuan Casino. To know that the funds are going to an amazing charity and helping the lives of hundreds is extraordinary on every level. To donate and for more information on this and other events you can visit Their 21st Annual Wine Tasting event will take place on August 2! 

Photos by: Melissa Sanchez

In Memory of Prince – The World Turns Purple

Icon singer/musician/producer/writer/genius Prince Rogers Nelson was pronounced dead at 10:07 am today, he was only 57 years old. He was found in an elevator at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, Minnesota. The cause of death is still unknown. Many honored him by lighting up in purple in reference to his most iconic album, Purple Rain. President Barack Obama posted a message on Facebook summarizing Prince’s genius. 

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 9.26.53 PM



San Diego Latino Film Festival Highlights

I had the opportunity to check out some of the films being showcased at the 23rd annual San Diego Latino Film Festival and I have to say they were all awesome. I have had a great experience so far, after each film there has been a Question and Answer panel with directors, producers, and actors of the films, where they dive deeper into the films I had just seen. Rarely do we get the chance to speak to the makers of the films we see and be able to ask them the probing questions that are on our minds. I found it to be a very enriching experience and I suggest any movie lover to come check out the festival before it ends. Here are some of my suggestions of films I enjoyed and ones I recommend that you see. You can browse the schedule and purchase your tickets online or you can get them at the box office when you get there.

Puerto Ricans in Paris

I chose this one as my opening night film to watch and wow did it deliver. I had so much fun watching this movie and it was a real treat to have the director of the film Ian Edelman sitting right behind me. I guess I am a movie nerd, but I find that exciting! The film stars Luis Guzman and Edgar Garcia as New York City detectives who are put on a case by Collete, a French handbag designer. One of her most famous original pieces goes missing and she puts them on the case to find her bag in Paris. Now these two guys as the title suggests have never been to Paris and what ensues from there is hilarious. The jokes were funny, but never crass or mocking latinos like some movies do, the humor was just right. Rosie Perez and Rosario Dawson are also in the film and they only add to the hilarity of the scenes. The director mentioned that Guzman and Garcia have been friends for over 30 years and it is obvious because they play so well off of each other. If you are in the mood for a comedy, this one is just right.


Las Aparicio

I took two of my girlfriends to see this one and we all enjoyed it. This movie is perfect for a girl’s night out or a date night. The film is derived from the novella of the same name. It is about a female family that has a curse on them, all of their husbands die off and they cannot bear male children. None of them know why, but when their great-grandfather’s body is found in the wall of their family home, the women come together to pay their respects and bury him. Believing that by doing so, they will be removing the curse. The film stars Ana de la Reguera, Iliana Fox, Tenoch Huerta, Damián Alcázar, and Paulina Gaitan. I had a great time watching this movie and I encourage people to go out and see this one. This film is a mixture of funny, sexy, endearing, and overall showed the strength that women have inherently in them and that is what made it great.

Las Aparicio

Viva Mujeres! Shorts

I got a chance to see this short films showcase over the weekend and it was amazing. Seven movies in total were shown and honestly I don’t know how it is possible how each director does so much in a short amount of time. Many of the directors and actors in the films were present and it was enjoyable to hear them talk about their motivations behind the films, how they get them funded, and the experiences they had in making them. One of my favorites was the documentary short Homegirls, which showed how two former female gang members from different paths came to the Homeboy Organization and their stories that led them there. The organization is a civic-minded center in Los Angeles that helps men and women out of prison and gangs find jobs and offers them a chance to work in their bakery and café. I was blown away by the stories and immensely moved. Every film that was shown was well thought out and featured a story about women that needed to be told. I definitely recommend everyone to go see these films and support them, as these rarely get as much exposure as Hollywood films, but they are equally as good as any big budget feature.


The San Diego Latino Film Festival ends on March 20th. Check out the schedule and get your tickets before it’s over.