Tuesday, March 09, 2010


Story and photos by Leo E. Laurence

Copyright © 2010 by Leo E. Laurence • All rights reserved

Expanding for its 17th season, the internationally respected Latino Film Festival will screen 185 films March 11 - 21, plus produce nightly, live music and dance performances with an added exhibit of Latino art. Most films are in Spanish, but with English subtitles.

“The festival started 17 years ago as a student festival at local universities and was called Cine Estudiantes (Student Film),” said festival founder and executive director, Ethan van Thillo, in an interview.

“In 1998 (the festival) changed from student films to screening feature films and inviting actors and directors. That’s when the whole thing kind of blew up and started growing,” van Thillo added.

“We have 185 films (this year), more than ever. 166 were screened last year.

“We also have a whole celebration of women filmmakers, called Cine Mujer (Women in Film), funded by the Motion Picture Academy for Arts & Sciences. The Oscars gave us a grant to cele-brate women filmmakers from Latin America, México and Spain; with more than 40 of their films being screened.

“We will have a wide celebration of Latino music every night at 8:30 p.m. in the UltraStar lobby; and Arte Latino, curated by Gonzales of La Onda Arte Latino,” van Thillo reported.

Several Hollywood celebrities are coming, including Jaime Camile who will attend the U.S. premier of “Regrets.”

Carmen Salinas is coming back this year, and comedian Paul Rodriquez will appear for a funny new Chicano film.

For the fifth year, “Cine Gay” will continue its mission to help correct the often distorted images of the Gay Community on television and in films with a showcase of five major, Gay films about and by Gay Latinos, according to Patrick Stillman.

He is the Innovations and Programming Officer for the Media Arts Center in Golden Hills, which produces the Latino Film Festival each year.

Two Gay counterpoints include “Contracorriente”, about a Peruvian fisherman in a small village dealing with being Gay. It won an award at the Sundance Film Festival this year.

“Contracorriente” is paired with “Andrew” as a counterpoint, the first Gay film from the Basque region of Spain. It tells the story of the rural lifestyle for a Gay senior.

The new film La Mission about an ex-con living in San Francisco’s largely Latino Mission District whose world is changed when he discovers that his son is Gay.

In addition to Hollywood and international films, a short, award-winning production by local filmmakers Antonio de Jesus, 26, of SDSU and Roberto Mora, 30, of Normal Heights called All About Martha will be screened.

The U.S. film stars Peter Bratt, son of well-known Hollywood actor Benjamin Bratt, who will be attending the festival.

Over 180,000 have seen over 4,000 films over the 17 successful years of the Latino Film Festival, now produced at the UltraStar Cinemas in the Hazard Center near I-163 and Friars Road in Mission Valley.

More information is available at www.sdlatinofilm.com or call (619) 230-1938.

Contact writer Leo E. Laurence at (619) 757-4909 or leopowerhere@msn.com.

Photo captions:

Latino Film Festival staffer Patrick Stillman (l-r)is shown with San Diego filmmakers Roberto Mora, 30 and Antonio de Jesus, 26. Photo by Leo E. Laurence © 2010

SDSU filmaker Antonio de Jesus, 26, will appear with his movie All About Martha at the Latino Film Festival March 11-21. Photo by Leo E. Laurence