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Festival Highlight: San Diego Latino Film Festival Expands For 20th

Adds Drive-In And Digital Gym Cinema Venues

Guest blogger Rebecca Romani suggests going to the drive-in at this year's San Diego Latino Film Festival.

For a film festival that started out as a modest, student-run project in a cultural center in Balboa Park (The Centro Cultural de la Raza), the San Diego Latino Film Festival could well be described as the little festival that could. Over the years, it has grown into one of the premiere Latino film festivals in the US, showing work by established artists and launching the careers of new ones.

Now, in its 20th year, the SDLFF is celebrating its landmark birthday by adding new screening venues and showcasing some of the films and people who have made the festival what it is today.

One fun addition that pays homage to community cinemas as well as a landmark Latino film by a Latino director is the March 13th screening of “Selena” (1997) at the new Full Moon Drive-in in San Diego. “Selena,” the bio-pic about the short life and mercurial career of beloved Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla was a break-through film for Jennifer Lopez. What’s more, it was also a major hit for San Diego-born director Gregory Nava (“El Norte,” “Bordertown”). Nava, whose work has frequently screened at the SDLFF over the years, will be in attendance. Tickets are $20 per car.

The SDLFF has also added two new venues that truly expand its reach and underline the festival as a border presence as well as its commitment to the San Diego community in general. True to its mission to bring new films and cinematic treasures to the border region, the SDLFF has set up a number of screenings at the Centro Cultural Tijuana or CECUT. The SDLFF has worked with the CECUT before, but this year marks an expanded collaboration. You can catch a number of the 20th anniversary showcase films as well as a well-curated Cuban Cinema retrospective and the New Chilean Cinema Showcase through Thursday, March 14.

If you are looking for something a little closer to home, you might want to check out the screenings at the Media Arts Center’s new home at 2921 El Cajon Boulevard. There is something to see every evening of the festival, and while you’re there, you might want to check out the various classes they offer the community from producing to directing to creating media pieces. The Media Art Center of San Diego has received a number of grants in the last few years and is setting itself up as a community production resource similar to FilmArts Foundation in San Francisco, to help existing and aspiring media artists produce realize their visions through classes and equipment rentals.

With the festival so spread out, it might be hard to see everything you want to see. On the other hand, with the wide choice of venues, you’re bound to find at least one screening to fit your schedule.

--Rebecca Romani is a guest blogger who focuses on foreign films and film festivals.

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