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Local Event: Documania

San Diego Latino Film Festival Highlights Non-Fiction Film

The documentary

Credit: Dos Vatos Productions

Above: The documentary "Precious Knowledge" has its world premiere at the San Diego Latino Film Festival.


KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reports on the Documania program at SDLFF.


The San Diego Latino Film Festival serves up a number of sidebar programs. This year non-fiction films are highlighted in a showcase called Documania.

Festival director Ethan Van Thillo says these films tap into hot button issues. Take the film "Precious Knowledge."

"'Precious Knowledge' is about Arizona and the students and teachers in Tucson, Arizona, that are fighting to keep the ethnic studies and Chicano studies programs at the high school level," says Van Thillo, "These programs are being cut by the school district and the politicians, and Arizona is such a hotbed of activity in regards to the Latino community but we're also seeing that that's happening across the country, different states are trying to adopt similar laws and facing similar budget cuts."

The film's producer Eren McGinnis grew up in Imperial Beach, graduated from El Cajon Valley High School, and studies anthropology at SDSU. Now her son Max is a student at Tucson High School, so part of her interest in making the film was as a concerned parent.

"I met Sean Arce, Director of Mexican American Studies in the Tucson Unified School District, at a National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC) mini-conference in Tucson, Arizona," says McGinnis, "Sean is impressive, being a former University of Arizona football player, and moves with a lot of grace. It was an amazing conference filled with a lot funk and flavor, performance artists, indigenous hip-hop musicians, Chicano muralists, local people, mingling with Latino artists from all over the US. Sean told us that the state government was on a mission to shut down Ethnic Studies programs at the high school, community college, and university level. Ari and I had also been shooting Tucson High School students at the May Day/immigrant rights marches over the years and already knew the high school students were badass, being very involved in activism and engaging in the political process. This clicked as an important story immediately."

Here is a trailer for her film "Precious Knowledge."

"Precious Knowledge" Trailer

"Precious Knowledge" Trailer

"Precious Knowledge" has its world premiere on Friday. There are 13 feature documentaries in the festival's Documania showcase. The festival runs through March 20 at the UltraStar Mission Valley Theaters at Hazard Center. For a complete schedule of films go to the festival's website.

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