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16th Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival

If you don't want to hassle with the crowds on opening night, there are plenty of great films to choose from during the next ten days. There's the stunningly shot but challenging film Silent Light by Carlos Reygadas. He made the very controversial Battle in Heaven that screened here a couple years ago. He has a wonderful eye for composing the frame and for using cinematic space. The story involves a Mennonite community in Northern Mexico and a man who's torn between his lover and his family.

Carlos Reygadas' Silent Light

There's also a dark, twisting romance called Love, Pain and Vice Versa with Barbara Mori. She starred in a twisty romance last year, Ugly Me but that one ended sweetly and this one is anything but sweet. But Love, Pain and Vice Versa is cleverly played out and compelling with fine performances. Also on the dark side is a film about the end of the world, Before the Fall . But it's not loaded with special effects and heroes trying to save the world. Instead, it's an intimate drama about what's worth fighting for even at the end of everything

As always, the SDLFF has a great selection of short film programs. There are often great films here and you'll probably never have another opportunity to catch them. I highly recommend the Cine'mation short film programs. The Cine'mation program, dedicated to highlighting animated works with a Latino flavor, was started recently and has highlighted some incredible films. There's also an experimental short showcase and one featuring youth works including some by the Teen Producer's Project, which is run by the same organization that sponsors the festival, the Media Arts Center San Diego.

In addition to all the great films, the festival also provides a broader celebration of Latino culture. You can enjoy Latino visual artists with Arte Latino and musicians with the Sonido Latino. Usually the theater lobby is filled with vendors, art work and music so it's a very lively, fun setting to enjoy before you even get into the movie theater.

So plan your strategy by either analyzing the schedule and creating a precise itinerary or simply head down whenever you have a free chance and gamble on whatever is playing at the time. Either way you are bound to see some great films.

For more information and a complete downloadeable schedule go to www.sdlatinofilm.com .

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