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San Diego Latino Film Festival expands cultural offerings through artists and artisans

After a two-year hiatus, the San Diego Latino Film Festival opened last week at a new venue in Mission Valley with expanded programming that goes beyond films.

While there are still plenty of great films to see, this year’s festival also offers artists painting new works at the event, music and artisan offerings, all of which celebrate San Diego’s Latino culture.

RELATED: San Diego Latino Film Festival is back in person starting Thursday

Jacob Aere
A vendor sits behind a foldable table with her artisan jewelry on display, March 11, 2022.

One San Diegan whose work is being featured at the event is the mixed media artist Pako Pablos, who is originally from Guadalajara, Mexico. Notably, he uses augmented reality in his paintings and merchandise.

“They're icons. That's the reason why I represented them that way. Frida Khalo, an iconic painter and Guillermo del Toro, an iconic director," Pablos said. "So they are proudly Mexican so my exhibition was about Mexican icons. So that’s the reason why I put them there.”

Jacob Aere
Melody De Los Cobos admires her own art exhibition at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, March 11, 2022.

Melody De Los Cobos, Love City Heights artistic director and Arte Latino Gallery assistant curator for this year’s festival, said she's excited to see the Latino Film Festival grow into other aspects of arts and culture.


“In previous years we’ve had maybe two six-foot tables allowed for the visual arts," De Los Cobos said. "And this year … we have a whole storefront and parts of the courtyard and even more space than that.”

She added that they will place collaborative public art banners and wooden stands from the event in City Heights after the festival ends.

Jacob Aere
Sean Fairley paints on a community banner at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, March 11, 2022.

Within the Arte Latino Gallery that De Los Cobos helped curate, there are vendors such as Tierrasanta’s Pina Santiago who are selling their goods. Originally from Oaxaca, she was offering her region’s shoes and jewelry.

“Well, it really is an opportunity for people to come and meet us," she said in Spanish. "We all have different products.”

It's a chance for people to get to know the vendors and their cultures.

RELATED: San Diego Latino Film Festival Celebrates Diversity Through Latin Cinema

“In this case, I am distributing the authentic Oaxacan goods," Santiago said. "And by buying authentic products, people can learn a little about Oaxaca through me.”

Jacob Aere
Pina Santiago hold up one her favorite pairs of heels that she sells, March 11, 2022.

The 29th San Diego Latino Film Festival runs until March 20 at AMC Mission Valley 20 with daily live music with a food and drink festival on Saturday, March 19.

For more information go to