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Arts & Culture

Cinema Junkie Podcast 203: SDLFF Pushing The Envelope

Chile's "Ema" is one of the films that displays a visual motif or unrest and revolution at this year's San Diego Latino Film Festival.
Music Box Films
Chile's "Ema" is one of the films that displays a visual motif or unrest and revolution at this year's San Diego Latino Film Festival.

Unrest and revolution inform recent Latino cinema

The 27th Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival streams its first virtual edition now through Sept. 27 and the film choices push the envelope in terms of diversity and cinematic styles. I speak with festival founder/executive director Ethan Van Thillo about the challenges of moving the event online and with exhibitions manager Moises Esparza about showcasing emerging filmmakers drawn to themes of unrest and revolution.

It's easy to program crowd pleasing films but the San Diego Latino Film Festival dares to ask audiences to step out of their comfort zone.

Anyone can program mainstream studio films or warm and fuzzy movies that assure viewers that everything is OK. But SDLFF exhibitions manager Moises Esparza seeks out films that challenge viewers, bend genres and ask difficult questions.

That's a tradition set by the festival's founder and executive director Ethan Van Thillo. During the festival's 27 years, Van Thillo has consistently highlighted the work of filmmakers like Arturo Ripstein (his latest film "El diablo entre las piernas" screens at this year's virtual SDLFF) who has frequently found his films banned or censored in Mexico. Van Thillo has also showcased cult oddities such as "Ship of Monsters" (1961) for small but adoring crowds.

This year the festival's Un Mundo Extraño sidebar, curated by Horrible Imaginings Film Festival's Miguel Rodriguez, will feature such crazy cult classics as "Santo contra Hombres Infernales" (1961) and "El fantasma del convento" (1934).

For this podcast I sit down with Van Thillo and Esparza to talk about the challenges of moving a festival online during COVID and the joys of programming the best of Latino cinema from around the globe.