Albert H. Fulcher | Contributing Editor
With its origins as a student film festival 26 years ago, the San Diego Latino Film Festival (SDLFF) is now one of the largest and most highly regarded Latino film festivals in the world. In its history, more than 325,000 people have attended 3,880 films and videos from Latin America, Mexico, Spain and the U.S.
This year’s fest promises an 11-day celebration of Latino cinema, art and culture. Presented and produced by Media Arts Center San Diego, it takes place March 14-24 at AMC Fashion Valley 18 and Digital Gym Cinema in North Park, showcasing more than 170 movies, documentaries, shorts and special events.
Following a jam-packed opening night featuring a press conference, party, concerts, and a pre-screening mixer with filmmakers and actors, the SDLFF hits full swing with a diverse selection of films. For the enthusiast, there are full festival passes and also individual tickets on sale from $9-$12 per film.
On March 16, the SDLFF presents the Sabor Latino – Food Beer & Wine Festival at the River Plaza Stage in Fashion Valley Mall, pairing the best of Latin cuisine in San Diego with breweries and wineries in both San Diego and Baja California (tickets $20-$50).
During the festival’s 11-day run, it will hold Sonido Latino Concerts from 6-9 p.m. at the River Plaza Stage in Fashion Valley Mall, then conclude with a Closing Night Awards Ceremony & Concert at the Music Box in Downtown from 5:30-7:30 p.m., followed by an after-party and live concert from 9 p.m.-2 a.m. (tickets $20-$180).
There is much to choose from with this year’s showcase. Featured selections will provide entertainment, education and insight into lives, music, love, sports, television, and more — all told in a variety of ways through the eye of Latino filmmakers.
On opening night in the De Aquí Soy (I am here) series, “Rocio” is a fascinating story, 25 years in the making. Utilizing family video footage, the story follows the journey of a mother and the pursuit of the American dream. This is an endearing and informative film in the best of ways, showing family culture, a mother’s love, family unity and the threat of family separation.
Diagnosed with terminal kidney failure, the film’s titular character, Rocio, embarks on a journey that finds her falling in love, having and raising children, and the many struggles that they all face in finding treatment for her. As a last resort, her oldest son takes her to Mexico, which gives a captivating look at alternative medicine, but because he doesn’t have his DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) papers in order, he is refused entry back into the U.S. Covering many controversial subjects, this film provides a personal glimpse into a family that faces many challenges head on, despite the fact that they could disrupt the family unit forever. Well worth seeing, this film will play again at Fashion Valley on March 22 at 4:15 p.m.
The lineup of films in this festival is nothing short of phenomenal, with several films coming from filmmakers in San Diego. Many films will give audiences the opportunity to meet the producers, filmmakers and stars of the movies, making this festival an interactive experience for film lovers of all types.
With a large selection of showcase films, each creates a unique view that features certain countries, genres and themes — many of them highlighting what is happening in countries around the world today. From fact to fiction, the films cover all facets of life, love, politics, news, human rights and more, seen from the eyes of experienced, up-and-coming and student filmmakers. SDLFF strives to provide films to the Latino community and beyond by using innovation, original and thought-provoking works that are about, by and for the Latino community.
For a full lineup of films, descriptions, show times and special events, visit 2019.sdlatinofilm.com.
—Albert Fulcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.