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.

WalkOut at SDLFF

walkout 1Walkout first premiered in 2006 on HBO and is directed by Edward James Olmos, considering the current struggles the world is facing today and in commemoration of the landmark event, it was added as part of the films shown for the 25th anniversary of the San Diego Latin Film Festival. Walkout is about the 1968 high school walk out that occurred in East Los Angeles, helping propel education in the Chicano community and the Chicano civil rights movement forward.

Honor student Paula Crisostomo (Alex Vega) becomes outraged when she begins to realize after attending a Chicano leadership camp and upon seeing other schools in Los Angeles, that the poor conditions, treatment, and education offered to Chicanos was sub-par to the rest. She gets involved in the activist community and along with her fellow Mexican-American friends, teacher Sal Castro (Michael Pena) and activist leader Moctesuma Esparza (Bodie Olmos), they begin a campaign, and demand changes are made to the educational system for Chicanos. 

walkout 3 1968 picThe students form a set of 3 walk outs, which end up attracting the attention of law enforcement and the news. The students are beaten and treated like dogs on the street, but what ends up being shown on national television is nothing of the sort. Instead the event was painted as being peaceful and as if nothing significant happened. Eventually the walk outs gain so much attention, that the leaders of the groups and some of the brown berets, get taken to court and charged with conspiracy to commit a misdemeanor, and if convicted a 60-year jail sentence. 

The film was provocative and entertaining, and I felt ashamed that I had never heard about this story. It made me realize how much none of this is taught in our schools and how it is hidden from history. It was a wonderful movie to watch and I hope that this film can be shown in schools to inspire all students to stand up for their beliefs.

walkout 2Executive Producer Moctesuma Esparza opened the screening by providing a brief history of the film. He mentioned that over 20 thousand students participated in the walk out and how after the protests there was a huge increase from only 2 students in LA attending college to over 1,000 Mexican-Americas. At the time, Chicanos were discouraged to attend college, and instead were told to become mechanics or secretaries, and for those numbers to increase was phenomenal and shows that what they did make a difference to the world. Esparza built much of his career on telling the history of others, from Roosevelt to Gettysburg, but once he was settled as a producer, he was able to finally tell his story. He told audiences that being an activist is a lifetime commitment and said, “a singular moment does not change things, but years of commitment.” In today’s ever-changing political landscape and upheaval, especially against immigrants and Mexicans, his words resonate deeply. 

The San Diego Latino Film Festival runs from March 15 – 25.

For more info and tickets go to:


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.



SDLFF Shows Hit After Hit

The San Diego Latino Film Festival featured some wonderful and eye-opening films this year. I had the pleasure of seeing quite a few, here’s a rundown of some of my fave flicks.

Treintona, Soltera, Y Fantastica


The film tells the familiar story that anyone who’s been in or is in their thirties will understand, of feeling the pressure to be married, have children, and have life all figured out. The reality is never that easy or pretty. Ines (Barbara Mori), a thirty-something writer, just broke up with her boyfriend of 7 years and is now single, trying to figure out her place in the world. Having been paired up for so long, she felt as if she had lost herself, not knowing who she was or what it was that she wanted out of life. This film shows her journey and all the quirky and funny things that happen while trying to discover herself. From dating through social media, battery-operated boyfriends, and wrestling with the decisions of child-bearing. This movie not only had me laughing from beginning to end, I found it had a positive message for women and showed a female character who didn’t need a Prince charming to rescue her. In fact, she figured it all out herself!

Cronicas Españolas

espana shorts

In this collection of short films from Spain, each one had an interesting message and viewpoint on the world. One of the reasons I love short films, they show us how much can be said in just 5 minutes. One of the films called It Girl, told a poignant story of a woman who uses the internet to brand herself as an “it girl.” She garners tons of followers and free stuff from a lot of companies. The truth is, it is all a lie, she is only doing it to support her ailing boyfriend’s medical treatments. Behind the camera, they go and sell the items she gets for free for money and we see that what people choose to reveal on the internet is not always the truth.

Another film I enjoyed was El Mundo Entero, about a young gay man who visits his mother’s grave and speaks to her. The mother comes alive to him and she is a firecracker of a woman, she talks to him about his sexuality and how she came to terms with it, how she always knew he was gay, and how she wished she had done more for the gay community. In the end, we see that by just accepting him for who he is and not trying to change him, she made a world of a difference in her community. The lives of people around her changed because they saw her as a positive role model.



The documentary film, Dolores, directed by Peter Bratt, tells the enigmatic life story of Dolores Huerta, the co-founder of the first farmworkers’ union alongside Cesar Chavez. The film was produced in collaboration with Carlos Santana and Benjamin Bratt, and brings to the screen the story of a woman who has almost been written out of history books. Everyone knows who Cesar Chavez was, but most do not know about the work that Huerta put into the movement. The film chronicles her life, from being a young woman, wanting to find her place in the world, to the iconic leader that she then became. At only 25, she was a young mother with several children already and was in Washington, D.C. fighting for the rights of migrant farmworkers. To say that this was her mission in life, would be an understatement.


24th Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival

ovarian2The 24th Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival kicked into gear March 16th and will continue to run through March 26th, 2017. The festival is held at two prime movie-going locations, Fashion Valley Mall in Mission Valley and the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park. The film festival features movies from all over Latin America, Mexico, Spain, and the United States, with the primary focus of showcasing films that present a Latin viewpoint. There are over 160 movies to choose from and the festival splits many of them into Showcases to make deciding a little easier, some focus on a specific country such as Brazil or Mexico or are centered around a specific area of interest such as Cine Gay, Documania, and Viva Mujeres. The festival offers something for every taste and interest to say the least. Along with the films, there are also free daily performances by local and international artists each day at the Fashion Valley Mall location.

CharroWhat I love the most about this film festival is that it exposes so many people, not just Latinos, to topics and stories that are rarely discussed. Such as the film El Charro de Toluquilla, about an HIV-positive mariachi singer who is trying to raise his daughter alone, and the film Ovarian Psycos, a documentary about a group of women who ride their bicycles through East Los Angeles, and use their group to confront violence and racism, along with their feminist ideals. These are topics audiences rarely get an insight into, and it is great to see that a festival like this can bring these issues to light.

The festival also offers guests the opportunity to meet with and talk with actors, directors, and producers of the films. What an exciting treat for any movie lover! Be sure to take some time to go see a movie at the festival and enjoy the sights and sounds of Latin culture.



Ticket information and festival schedule:

San Diego Latino Film Festival 





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.


San Diego Latino Film Festival

The 23rd annual San Diego Latino Film Festival will take place from March 10-20, 2016 and will be held at both AMC Fashion Valley 18 and Digital Gym CINEMA North Park. The Media Kick-Off party was held at the Quad Ale House in downtown San Diego on February 25th and everyone had a blast catching up with filmmakers and movers and shakers of the film community. A great event to have in San Diego, especially being that San Diegans reside next to a border town that is rich in culture.


The films to be shown include a line-up filled with something to satisfy everyone’s tastes from features starring highly-acclaimed actors like Salma Hayek, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Rosario Dawson; also documentary films, short films and special showcases with focused films such as Cine Gay, Columbia!, and Frontera Filmmakers.

I had the opportunity to speak with Ed Cahan, the producer of one of the featured documentaries Club Frontera, which follows the players, fans, political figures and more of the Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles professional Mexican soccer team. He mentioned that this film will not only “shine a positive light on Tijuana,” but it will show people what a phenomenal impact this team has had on its city from economical to cultural. As someone who has grown up going to Tijuana on a regular basis, I am excited for other people to finally see and learn more about the great aspects of the city many people call home.

Club Frontera

There will also be lots of extra events going on that coincide with the festival like the Sabor Latino! Food, Wine, & Beer Festival on March 19th. The acclaimed chefs and vineyard owners were presented at the kick-off party and announced the Latin cuisine that will be served and the beers and wine that will accompany the food. Your ticket  includes unlimited tastings of beer, that’s enough to entice anyone to go!


Your encouraged to come out and check out the festival and catch a few films. Make sure to buy your tickets in advance, many are already creating buzz  and will more than likely sell out. See ya at the film fest!

Tickets and passes to the San Diego Latino Film Festival:

Tercer Grado (Day Release) Interview with Director and Lead Actor

Interview with Tercer Grado (Day Release) actor Jesús Lloveras and director Geoffrey Cowper at the 22nd San Diego Film Festival. The festival goes from March 12-22nd showcasing top talent from around the world.

Tercer Grado Director and Lead Actor

Tercer Grado (Day Release) actor Jesús Lloveras and director Geoffrey Cowper at the 22nd San Diego Film Festival.

On his first weekend of parole after 5 years in prison, Mark Rodriguez witnesses the armed robbery of a security van. His brother’s critical situation and his own feelings of remorse will lead him to take desperate measures. His only help will be a young and sexy stripper he met the night before. This electric and grungy thriller paints a picture of desperation in a world devoid of hope.

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