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San Diego Latino Film Festival At 25

March 14, 2018 1:36 p.m.

San Diego Latino Film Festival At 25


Ethan Van Thillo, San Diego Latino Film Festival founder and executive director

Beth Accomando, KPBS arts reporter

Related Story: San Diego Latino Film Festival At 25


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

>>> This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. San Diego Latino film Festival kicks off its 25th year tomorrow . In honor the milestone, KPBS arts reporter sat down with even Vaughan T Lowe to reflect on the festival's history.
>> Reporter: This is going to be the 25th anniversary of the Latino film Festival. How does it feel being at this place right now?
>> It has been an amazing journey. 25 years. We started as a small student Festival with maybe a few dozen films, a few hundred people. Now we expect over 20,000 people screening over 165 movies.
>> Reporter: When you had that first film Festival, what was it like launching that?
>> Recently arrived from UC Santa Cruz where I started from the film festival up there. I came down from San Diego and found that no one was doing anything like this in the region. It was such a large Latino population I thought it was important to start a film festival that represents the Latino community and combats the negative stereotypes we see in the news, television, film. I came here and connected with local universities and colleges. I connected with community groups, what -- to put together a bunch of volunteers at a bunch of people who supported us in the very beginning stages. And I started a small film festival. We started supporting Latino films from Mexico, Latin America, all over the U.S. What I learned back then is that it is very important as an organizer of film festival that once you start to do something go to it. You might screen it on the side of the wall or a movie in a small house, the important thing is to announce that you're going to do it in so people can no heavier they can count on the lot Tino desk a Latino film festival every year.
>> Reporter: When did you make the jump from going from a student Festival to something bigger?
>> Edward James almost came to the festival and the place was packed with over 700 people. People like to see celebrities and they like to see future films. That's what I woke up. I saw that maybe we need to start inviting more international filmmakers. In 1998, we moved the film festival to Horton Plaza. We had a mainstream movie theater and invited actors and filmmakers and then corporate America was connecting with us also.
>> Reporter: The biggest challenge in that transition point getting the funding to do what you wanted to do?
>> What is the biggest problem in challenges funding. It is a challenge every year. I am thankful for the people who supported us the past 25 years.
>> Reporter: At that time did you feel that the focus of the mission statement for the festival has changed or evolved?
>> A lot has happened in 25 years. There are different Latinos in Hollywood, and Latinos are winning Oscars. But with that said, despite the Latino population in the United States and in Hollywood movies, there is still only 30% of Latinos that are actors or actresses in front of the camera. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done. We need more Latino representation in front and behind the cameras. With that said, we have evolved. We not only screen movies, we have live concerts every day at the festival. We have a Latino food festival. As a festival you have to evolve. One of the ways we evolved is that our involvement with the community. In particular, educational programs. So about 16, 17 years ago because of the Latino festival, we were able to create the Art Center San Diego. It's an organization that teaches you how to make videos. We go into the community, and it is those year-round educational programs that help sustain our film Festival and our organization.
>> Reporter: In terms of the films you screened, did you feel that early on in the festival that there was more of a driving need to show films where it was addressing very directly with the Latino image was on the Latin Latino American image was whereas now you feel there is a little more space to show films that are just genre films that don't confront issues directly about the Latino community but can it just be a film made by a Latino filmmaker?
>> First we were very Chicano Latino associated it wasn't until 1998 where we started going more international and started looking at the Spanish cinema. That has changed greatly over the years. Now we are looking at Latino films is an international cinema. Early on a lot of documentaries focused on social issues and the Latino representation. Now we screen films that are by Latino directors but the content does not have to be about the Latino experience. That has changed over the years. Had different films that celebrate the diversity of the Latino community. We also looked at different genres. We might look at horror films, comedies, tele-novellas, we also expanded into television and we have Latinos in TB showcase. I think that's what's exciting about the festival is that since 97, 98, we always celebrated the diversity of the community. So LGBT films, and that is one of the things that asked the festival exciting.
>> Reporter: How does the field have work from Corona or Del Toro early in your festival in their careers, does it feel satisfying to see them in their careers now?
>> It is nice to see the growth of the Latino the -- in general. Alfonso was screaming for car members in the photos of the young Alfonso and Diego on the stage and I were think to myself that happened. It is amazing to see where they are today. I really want to celebrate a event that has success but you want to find the next guy. You want to find the next Del Toro, and I want to encourage people to come out and see these independent feature films around Mexico, Spain, and the U.S.
>> Reporter: The festivals are changing the way people see films are changing, peoples want stuff streaming. What is the big challenge for a film festival going forward?
>> As a film festival, in the next 25 years we need to evolve. We have to change things a little bit. I think it's important to continue to be connected to the community so that having our own movie theater allows us to scream independent foreign films quickly and throughout the year. So you have to evolve and be innovative and continually be connected to the community. Also you might want to look at the different types of programs for the film festival maybe more virtual reality more new technologies, looking at more television and streaming. That is where it's all happening these days. Trying to continue to evolve and connect with the filmmakers these days.
>> Reporter: That was Ethan Vaughan Taylor was speaking with KPBS. Beth will be at the festival tomorrow to present the 25th anniversary screening of Del Toro's Cronus.