Skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Screenings: SDLFF and SDIFF

Festivals Run Year Round Events

Norma Aleandro stars as a mother of a young woman  (Alejandra Manzo) with Dow...

Credit: Menemsha Films

Above: Norma Aleandro stars as a mother of a young woman (Alejandra Manzo) with Down syndrome in Anita."


A look at the year round programming of the SDLFF and SDIFF.


Film Festivals are annual events yet more and more of them try to maintain a year round presence. I check in with the San Diego Latino and Italian Film Festivals about their events this week.

Every spring, the San Diego Latino Film Festival presents more than 100 films over 10 days. But festival director and founder Ethan Van Thillo says he soon realized that wasn't enough.

ETHAN VAN THILLO: If we just did something once a year it's almost like you are re-inventing the wheel each time, like you're finding your press list, you're finding your mailing list of your attendees but if you can email people, send postcards throughout the year you're definitely developing a relationship with your attendees.

So now Van Thillo oversees a variety of events throughout the year to maintain that relationship. Take the monthly film series Cinema en tu Idioma, which brings back popular films from the festival for mini one-week engagements. This allows attendees a second chance to catch a film they might have missed, like the heart warming "Anita," which gets an encore run beginning this Friday at the UltraStar Mission Valley Theaters.

But that's not all the series does.

ETHAN VAN THILLO: So the other goal of the Cinema en tu Idioma series was to also show Hollywood that these films Spanish language films or US-Latino films should be screened in the big movie theaters, and they should have their own run at local movie theaters.

The Festival is committed to bringing these films to the Latino community. Through events like free outdoor program on Wednesdays at the Otay Ranch Towne Center. Van Thillo is expanding the free movie series to North County this year with Cinema in the Park.

ETHAN VAN THILLO: Yeah it's a partnership with the Center for the Arts in Escondido. Definitely an area like Escondido where over 40% are Latinos in that community so the Center sees the importance of reaching out to the Hispanic and Latino community.

Reaching out to communities is what Victor Laruccia of the San Diego Italian Film Festival wants to do as well. His festival is in the fall but like the Latino Film Festival, he run events year-round like tomorrow's screening at the Museum of Photographic Arts.

VICTOR LARUCCIA: The film is "Bread and Chocolate," it's an older movie but it still has all the themes that we're interested in from the film festival's point of view. It's about dislocation, it's about migration, it's about cultural disruptions, and it's about dealing with stereotypes.

The film humorously deals with culture clashes like the one that unexpectedly arises as a soccer match plays on a TV at a bar.

The Italian Film Festival strives to share its culture with a broader community and Laruccia says it gets support from the Italian government.

VICTOR LARUCCIA: Outside of the United States most governments actually see their culture as a major area to preserve and so they actually create budgets to support the arts.

The Festival benefits from that with the Italian government making certain film titles available at low or no cost. That helps the festival to make 80% of their events donation only. And that donation amount has gone up from an average of 50 cents per person to a more respectable 5 dollars over the past five years. Non-profits like the Italian and Latino Film Festivals are concerned with serving the community while watching the bottom line. Ethan Van Thillo says that in addition to encouraging cultural diversity and seeking community sponsors, the Latino Film Festival is always looking for earned income opportunities.

ETHAN VAN THILLO: Ticket sales is very important for the film festival and the series, 50% of our income probably comes from earned income, which is ticket sales.

For the upcoming engagement of "Anita," Van Thillo says attendance in excess of 1000 will mean the event turns a profit. Of course the value of these year-round events goes beyond mere dollars for a film festival.

"Anita" begins a one-week engagement at the UltraStar Mission Valley Theaters at Hazard Center on Friday.

"Bread and Chocolate" screens once at 7pm at the Museum of Photographic Arts on Thursday.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.