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San Diego Latino Film FestivalKicks Off Virtual Edition

Speaker 1: 00:00 COVID-19 forced the San Diego Latino film festival to cancel its annual event back in March today, it kicks off a virtual edition of the festival KPBS arts reporter commando speaks with the festivals, founder and executive director, Ethan van. Tilo about the challenges of moving everything online. Speaker 2: 00:20 Ethan, back in March, I was interviewing you about the start of your festival. And on the day you were supposed to launch the San Diego Latino film festival, California gave out the orders that all public gatherings of that size had to see. So how has this journey been to restaging the festival? Speaker 1: 00:42 It's an incredible flexibility is definitely the key flexibility innovation. Honestly, when we spoke back in March, uh, you know, I thought, you know, by summer we would have a good in person. Events would have started by then a good rhythm would have happened. We would have been having our educational programs and we were even talking about having an in person film festival. Um, but you know what, this band dynamic, as we're all living through it every day, it's, something's different, right? Every time a new change, a new announcement. And so we decided, yeah, it's best to have a virtual edition of our 20, 20, 27 San Diego Latino film festival. So yeah, September 17th of 27th, there'll be a virtual Latino film festival. The first one of our kind that said it was, we've been doing virtual screenings and film screenings since March with our digital gym cinema. So we've gotten used to it. Uh, and you know, we've got used to screening movies online and then also got used to the idea of this post screening Q and A's getting filmmakers engaged and audience members via social media sites like YouTube or Facebook. And that's actually been one of the high points of these past few months is engaging people virtually Speaker 2: 01:53 Having to delay the festival. How has that impacted your programming in terms of the kinds of films you can show? Speaker 1: 01:59 So we thought it was just going to be easy, right? Just, Oh, we'll replicate exactly what we did in person in March and September. But no, the reality is as soon as he starts screening things, a line there's a issues like geoblocking, you can only screen certain films in certain cities or States or countries. So we can't screen certain films. Also these films have distributors obviously, and those distributors needed to move forward. And so the films are now maybe on Netflix or other platforms. And so, yeah, we've lost a good 30, 40 films, uh, which is amazing, uh, mostly features of course, that said the curatorial team we say and wanted an amazing job and pivoting and screening while we can. Uh, and then most importantly, to celebrate those films that we are screening, because those are the films that need distribution, right? Those are items that we should as local San Diego be supporting and try to get these more Latino voices, uh, in front of screens and more directors behind the cameras. So it's that we support these independent, maybe smaller films that we're screening at this upcoming festival. Speaker 2: 03:05 And what is the online experience going to be for people in terms of do all the films become available at one time, and then you get to choose when you watch them or do they become available at specific times during the scheduled festival? Speaker 1: 03:19 Yeah, so we wanted to recreate the festival environment, uh, with the virtual version of the sending Latino film festival. So it's like anything else you that show time is seven o'clock, for example, or a certain Showtime, you have access to it about an hour before, but then you also have 24 hours to see it. And so yes, every day, different showtimes, different film screenings. So you watch the movie and then also, um, the team has put together a wonderful collection of the post Q and A's. So we'll have live streams, uh, question and answer sessions with the filmmakers and actors on most of the films. So to check that out too. So watch the film at the Showtime and then participate in a Q and a afterwards, just like you would do it an in person event, Speaker 2: 04:00 We brought up digital Jim, and there's something that we haven't yet had to talk about, which is the fact that your physical space on alcohol Boulevard was forced to close. And for full disclosure, I've been screening films at digital gym for the past six years as part of film geek San Diego. So I was very sad to see the space closed because it was a really lovely, cozy venue for bringing people together to watch films. Speaker 1: 04:25 Yeah. We had a wonderful 10 years at the, uh, digital cinema space and North park. I mean, converted an old dilapidated building into this thriving movie theater community technology center that was reaching over 15,000 people a year was incredibly, um, what we had done these past few years. So yeah, our 10 year lease was up, um, anyways. And so it was, it was time for change and we have a great opportunities, but unfortunately we can't announce yet, but we will be moving downtown San Diego and we have a wonderful partner that will be making the official announcement soon and where we're heading. So we're heading to state of the art facility where we'll have classrooms, we'll have a movie theater. Um, so yeah, sad to see the North park location leave, but again, the lease was up and it was about change is needed anyways. And then of course we're during this pandemic, we can't screen movies any anyways, or we can't have in class programs anyway. So it kinda made sense, Oh, well, we'll just wait until the 2021 when the new space is open, uh, and, uh, you know, have a big celebration when it happens. Speaker 2: 05:27 And when we had spoken back in March the festival, because it had to cancel on the day, it was supposed to start, you were facing some serious financial issues. How has that been recovering from that? Speaker 1: 05:41 The festival was a shock, right? So we had put all this money into putting this festival and then boom, it just ended. And, you know, most of people don't understand the importance of ticket sales or earned income. And so, yeah, when you can't bring in your earned income with the ticket sales, that's a huge shock for an such as ourselves. Thankfully though we have some vendors that allowed us to give us credit so we can use that credit for future film festival. So there's, some vendors are very supportive. Uh, and then also the thankfully that there were some, uh, loan programs that PPP loan helped us out. And then also a small grants, the commission for arts and culture at a small brand supporting arts organizations, um, the California humanities Academy of motion, picture arts and sciences had a, a surprise grant that helped us out of the past few months. So we've been able to get a kind of infusion of dollars to help us, uh, during this time, uh, you know, when we can't do in person events and we are can sell tickets, which is such an important part of our business model for the past 27 years. Speaker 2: 06:44 Do you have any, uh, final words about the festival coming up Speaker 1: 06:48 Again? I just want to encourage everyone to come together during this, uh, 11 days, um, celebrate Latino culture, uh, celebrate Latino film, let's get together and talk about these movies. Talk about the issues in the movies, celebrate and support these filmmakers. Cause remember, uh, it's important to support independent artists and filmmakers during this time of crisis. They're the ones that we need to have, keep on creating movies. And so by buying a ticket, you're supporting distributors and supporting the artists themselves. And then maybe you just participate in, um, on the, um, the live Q and A's, you know, just encourages them to continue as artists during this difficult time. Speaker 2: 07:26 All right. Well, I want to thank you very much for talking about the San Diego Latino film festival, which is returning. Yeah. Speaker 1: 07:32 Thank you very much. We'll see you at the festival. That was Beth hock. Amando speaking with Ethan van. Tilo the San Diego Latin film festival relaunches today, online and runs through September 27th.

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This year’s San Diego Latino Film Festival was set to launch on March 12, but the festival had to cancel on its opening day due to COVID-19 restrictions. But the festival relaunches today with 140 films online.
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