Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival


The 15th Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) returns to the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood from Sunday, July 17 through Monday, July 25. The nine-day event will highlight the best recent films from international Latino talent, from the up-and–coming to the well established in Hollywood. LALIFF’S official selection includes 29 narrative features, 13 documentary features and 34 short films from 14 different countries.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Cuban director Gerardo Chijona’s “Ticket to Paradise” (Boleto al paraíso). This frank teen drama has created a sea change in the way gays and aids are viewed onscreen and off, in Cuba.

Set in the provincial seaside town of San Clemente del Tuyu, Argentina, during the “Dirty War” of the 1970s, Paula Markovitch’s moody autobiographical Mexican-French-German-Polish co-pro “El premio” (The Prize) portrays the chilling effects of fascism as seen through the eyes of 7-year-old Cecilia (Paula Galinelli Hertzog) and her mother (Laura Agorreca) hiding from the government since her father “disappeared.”

Set against Lima’s October celebrations, Peruvian brothers Daniel and Diego Vega’s “Octubre” (October), a droll, deadpan feature essays redemption and isolation when a moneylender (Bruno Odar) and his religious neighbor (Gabriela Velasquez) care for a baby left in a basket on his doorstep.

Federico Veiroj’s “La vida útil. (A Useful Life)-Capturing the look of Italian film in the 50’s, Federico Veiroj’s droll black and white love story, set in the Uruguayan Cinematheque. lead roles are played by film critic Jorge Jellinek and the former head of the Cinematheque, Manuel Martinez, playing him self. Like Tsai Ming-liang’s 2003 “Goodbye, Dragon Inn” and Lisandro Alonso 2006 “Fantasma”, films that focus on the end of the era of public cinema projection, Veiroj’s film portrays the closure of the cinematheque (in real life beset by financial woes) a topic that will resonate with LA cinephiles mourning the recent demise of LACMA’s 40-year-old film department.

Matías Bize’s “La vida de los peces” (The Life Of Fish), the Chilean Oscar entry and winner of the Best Latin American Feature award at the 2011 Goya Awards,

Pablo Larraín’s “Post Mortem”. Chilean stylist Larraín sets a loser romance between a shy mortician and a cabaret dancer against the impending Pinochet Coup’s overthrow of the democratic Allende Popular Front government. Starring Alfredo Castro, the star of Larrain’s previous “Tony Manero”.

In Chilean master documentarian Patricio Guzmán’s latest “Nostalgia de la luz” (Nostalgia for the Light), astronomers in Chile’s Atacama Desert search for the origins of life, while a group of women sift the sand searching for body parts of family members, “disappeared” by Pinochet’s regime.
Trisha Ziff’s narrative of exile and identity, “La maleta mexicana” (The Mexican Suitcase), which premiered at Karlovy Vary, tells the story of a suitcase that disappeared in the chaos in Europe at the beginning of World War II and resurfaced in a closet in Mexico City in 2007. Contained in the suitcase were 4,500 negatives, by three exiled photojournalists Robert Capa, David “Chim” Seymour, and Gerda Taro who traveled to Spain together to fight fascism with their cameras.

José Ramón Mikeljáuregui’s “La historia en el mirada” (History In The Eyes). Digitally restored by Filmoteca UNAM (the film archive of the National Autonomous University of Mexico) archival footage by the Alva brothers, from the archives of engineer Salvador Toscano, portrays the period before the Mexican Revolution, from the last days of the Porfirio Diaz regime, until the signing of the 1917 Constitution. Vivid, lyrical images of the famous and the anonymous mix with discrete intertitles, over a creative sound design. Winner of the Best Documentary Feature in the 53 AMACC (Mexican Academy of Arts and Cinematographic Sciences) Edition.

RECOMMENDED: Sebastian Hiriart’s elliptical immigration road movie “A Tiro De Piedra (A Stone’s Throw Away), “Capsulas” (Capsules), “Chico & Rita”; Argentine Alejandro Chomski’s “Dormir Al Sol” (Asleep In The Sun) a whimsical adaptation from a novel by Borges collaborator Adolfo Bioy Casares,

Carlos Cesar Arbeláez’s riveting “Los Colores De La Montaña” (The Colors Of The Mountain), portrays the agony of neo-colonial Latin America through the experience of one family. Winner of the Kutxa New Directors Award at the San Sebastian Film Festival.

Diego Lerman (“Tan de repente”) “The Invisible Eye” ((La Mirada Invisible) psychosexual -political drama about repression during Argentina’s dictatorship in the 80’s features a standout out lead perf by Julieta Zylberberg.

Spanish director Gerardo Olivares wilderness adventure story “Entrelobos” (Among Wolves); Sergio Sánchez Suárez’s steamy period romance “Tequila: historia de una pasión” (Tequila: History Of A Passion); Carlos Morena’s “Todos tus muertos” (All Your Dead Ones). a quirky mix of broad satire, black comedy and realism.

World Premiere at LALIFF: From Bolivia, “Schreibe Mir Postkarten Nach Copacabana” (Escríbeme postales a copacabana) directed by Thomas Kronthaler; and the hotly anticipated Cuban documentary “Los 100 Sonos Cubanos” (“The 100 Cunan Sones”) by Edesio Alejandro and Rubén Consuegra.

LALIFF’s Music Program includes an eclectic group of films and genre. the West Coast Premiere of “Chico & Rita”, a feature length animated musical directed by Spanish Master Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal and Tono Errando. The 1940s love story, set in the nightclubs of Havana and New York, features original music by Bebo Valdés, tracks from Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Cole Porter, Charlie Parker and Tito Puente (in animated cameo performances.).Besides “Los 100 Sonos Cubanos” the section features Fermín Muguruza and Javier Corcuera’s fascinating documentary “Checkpoint Rock, Canciones Desde Palestina” (Checkpoint, Songs From Palestine) which cleverly uses world music to narrate the Palestinian experience. Mayckell Pedrero’s “censured” Cuban documentary “Revolucion”, the most controversial in Cuba this year, features members of the provocative underground hip-hop group Los Aldeanos.  The Venezuelan short film “Pasion” directed by Carlos P. Beltran rounds out this section.

LALIFF showcases the Opera Prima works of 8 international directors including: the first entry in the festival’s history by a female director from Guatemala, Veronica Riedel’s “Capsulas” (Capsules); From the US, “Gun Hill Road” by Rashaad Ernesto Green (starting Esai Morales): from Mexico “A Tiro De Piedra” (A Stone’s Throw Away) by Sebastián Hiriart and “El Premio” (The Prize) by Paula Markovitch; from Colombia “Los Colores De La Montana” (The Colors Of The Mountain) by Carlos César Arbeláez; representing Peru,” Octubre” (October) by Daniel Vega and Diego Vega; and the Venezulan high speed thriller “La Hora Cero” (The Zero Hour) by Diego Velasco.

Highlighting the special screenings, the Chile/Mexico co-production “¿Alguien Ha Visto A Lupita?” (Have You Seen Lupita?) directed by Gonzalo Justiniano, with a star-studded cast that includes Cristian de la Fuente, Carmen Salinas and the film debut of Dulce María (formerly of RBD).

The Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) Showcase includes 4 documentaries, the Mexico/USA production “EL Velador” (The Night Watchman) by Natalia Almada, “Granito: How To Nail A Dictator” directed by Pamela Yates (USA), “Paraiso For Sale” by Anayansi Prado (PANAMA/USA) and, “Precious Knowledge” directed by Ari Luis Palos (USA).

Family fare includes the Argentine animation “Plumiferos-Aventuras Voladoras” (Free Birds – Flying Adventures) and the baseball film
Los Pequeños Gigantes (Little Giants), Thomas Kronthaler’s “Schreibe Mir Postkarten Nach Copacabana” (Escríbeme postales a copacabana- Write Me – Postcards to Copacabanaq). Handsomely shot by Christof Oefelein, the film, set in part in the small Bolivian town of Copacabana on Lake Titicaca, follows 14-year-old Alfonsina (Júlia Hernández)) and best friend Tere Alfonsina who vow to see the world and collect postcards from tourists.

On Sunday July 24th, LALIFF co-presents the Maya Indie Film Series that include: “Without Men”, directed by Gabriela Tagliavini and starting: Eva Longoria, Christian Slater, Kate del Castillo, Maria Conchita Alonso, Paul Rodriguez, Judy Reyes and Oscar Nunez; “All She Can”, directed by Amy Wendel,  starting Corina Calderon, Jeremy Ray Valdez and Joseph Julian Soria; and “Didi Hollywood”, a Spanish production directed by Bigas Luna, with a cast includes Elsa Pataky, Peter Coyote, Paul Sculfor, Giovanna Zacarías and Ana de la Reguera, among others.

LALIFF is one of few film festivals in the world recognized by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science as a qualifying festival, making the winner of its Short Film Category eligible for Oscar® consideration. LALIFF’s selection of 34 short films is divided into 8 programs: Urban Stories – Coming of Age, Family, Relationship, Suspense/Drama, Unspoken Stories I & II, Urban Stories – Drama, and A Kid’s World. See the complete list of short films below.

The Closing Night Gala features one of this summer’s most anticipated films, the action-thriller “Cowboys & Aliens”, directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”),  co-written and co-produced by Mexican- born Roberto Orci (“The Legend of Zorro”, “Mission: Impossible 3”, “Transformers”. The genre-bending actioner, starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford crosses classic Westerns with the alien-invasion movie. Produced by Brain Grazer, Ron Howard, and  Steven Spielberg, among others.

A limited number of tickets for LALIFF’s Closing Night Gala on July 25 will be available for sale at the price of $75 at www.latinofilm.org. The admission ticket includes: the Awards Ceremony, Special Film Screening and the Celebration.

Jurors for this 15th edition of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) include: award-winning actress-activist Lupe Ontiveros (“El Norte”, “Real Women Have Curves”, “Chuck and Buck” and “Desperate Housewives.”)

Venezuelan born writer-producer-director Betty Kaplan (“Of Love and Shadows”, “Doña Bárbara”) won a Peabody for her third film ” Almost a Woman.” She is Co-Chair of the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Latino Committee.

Sylvia Perel is the founder of the International Latino Film Festival -San Francisco Bay Area and the Festival de Cine de Todos Santos, Baja California Sur (Mexico). As a result of her groundbreaking educational “Youth in Video” program, hundreds of disadvantaged Latino youth in the Bay Area, Mexico and Buenos Aires, have studied the art of filmmaking with distinguish Latino filmmakers; resulting in over 50 films, many of them award-winning.

 Mexico-born and Chicana identified Lourdes Portillo made her first award -winning film “The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo ” when a friend asked her to help out on a documentary. The film was nominated for the Academy’s Best Documentary in 1985, and received of twenty other awards. She received critical acclaim for “Señorita extraviada” and “The Days of the Dead “(La ofrenda) and in 1994 she was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship in recognition of her contributions to filmmaking.
Yareli Arizmendi (“Like Water for Chocolate”, ” A Day Without a Mexican” which she also co-wrote. She has starred in numerous TV shows including “House”, “Medium”, “24”, “Six Feet Under”, “Heroes” and “The Agency”.

Cinematographer, author, executive Manuel Pérez Estremera has served as Director of the San Sebastian Film festival,  Director of Cinematography at the Ministerio de Cultura de España (Cultural Department of Spain).  and was instrumental in the production of the Cátedra de Producción de la Escuela Internacional de Cine y Televisión de San Antonio de los Baños in Cuba.

Jorge Sanchez Sosa has produced some of the best movies coming out of Mexico such as “¿Cómo Ves?” and “Cronos” (with Guillermo del Toro)
“No One Writes to the Colonel”, “Danzón”. Six of his productions have been official selections at the Cannes Film Festival.  Sosa served as the director of the Guadalajara Film festival for 4 years.

Ray Strache- Vice President, Acquisitions and Co-Productions for Fox Searchlight Pictures, shepherded numerous Searchlight releases—including Academy Award-winning “Crazy Heart”, “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Little Miss Sunshine”—as well as “Garden State”, “La Misma Luna” and “Napoleon Dynamite”, to name a few.

Michael Greenwald, Vice President of Talent at Don Buchwald & Associates/ Fortitude has worked in the industry for 21 years, beginning in production at Saturday Night Live and MTV.  Over a decade ago, Greenwald launched the cross over careers of such stars as America Ferrera, Maria Conchita Alonso, Lupe Ontiveros, Nadine Velasquez and Danay Garcia.  As an agent at Paradigm Talent & Literary Agency, Greenwald helped developed the careers of Ben Affleck, Adrien Brody, Sarah Michelle Gellar and Scarlett Johansson. Credited for having discovered stars Hilary Duff, Josh Duhamel and launching the careers of Rainn Wilson (“Six Feet Under”), Seth Green (“Austin Powers”), Angie Harmon (“Law & Order”), Jim Caviezel   (“The Thin Red Line”) and Melissa Leo (“Frozen River”), earning her an Academy Award nomination, Greenwald is responsible for helping bring Melissa and Joan Rivers to TV Guide’s RED CARPET for an unprecedented 10 million dollar deal, and resurrected George Takei’s career ( “The Howard Stern Show”, NBC’s “Heros” and “Larry Crowne.”) Some of his clients at Buchwald/Fortitude include Grammy Award® Winning artist Beto Cuevas of La Ley, Fairuza Balk, Patricia Velasquez, Kathleen Turner, D.B. Sweeney, Vanessa Williams, Crispin Glover, Maria Conchita Alonso and Lupe Ontiveros.

The Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028-460.  See www.latinofilm.org for more information.

Admission tickets to regular screenings are available on pre-sale online at $12 with a $2 discount to LALIFF members. Metro riders could purchase general admission tickets with a $1 discount at the festival’s box office. For more information, purchase advance tickets and to see the list of films and countries represented, please go to www.latinofilm.org.


About Author

Robin Menken

Robin Menken Robin Menken lives in Los Angeles. She was the Artistic Director of the Second City Workshops, taught at UC Berkeley, USC, Barcelona\'s Ateneu and the Esalin Institute. She was Roberto Rossellini\'s assistant, and worked with Yevgeny Vevteshenku, Glauber Rocha and Eugene Ionesco. She sold numerous screenplays and wrote the OBIE winning The FTA SHow (touring with Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland and Ben Vereen.) She was a programming consultant and Special Events co-ordinator for numerous film festivals, including the SF, Rio, Havana and N.Y Film Festivals. Her first news outlet was the historic East Village Other.

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