San Diego

Latino Film Festival Kicks off in San Diego

Over 160 films from the U.S and Latin America are being showcased on the big screen.

The 24th annual Latino Film has kicked off in San Diego.

Over 160 films from the U.S and Latin America are being showcased on the big screen.

The festival has become a tradition in San Diego, but with immigration taking center stage in Washington, politics is also a big part of the conversation.

“It’s interesting to get the perspective of Latinos themselves, producing their own content, producing their own stories,” said Ethan Van Thillo, who founded the Latino Film Festival over two decades ago. “It allows you to get a larger view of what's really happening.”

The festival includes a little bit of everything, from a movie about health care in Peru, to a film about girls with autism who start a swim team.

The films range from feature pieces to documentaries.

When it comes to hard hitting issues, Van Thillo said many of the same issues being addressed right now, have been talked about for years. The only difference is that now the issues have a national spotlight.

“After so many years, we're still dealing with the same arguments about building walls and immigration,” Van Thillo said. “Unfortunately a lot of the same issues still exist today. The stereotypes in the mainstream media, Hollywood, lack of diversity in front and behind the camera still exist. It’s also true that we've seen wonderful advancements."

Joey Molina is the producer La Ruta Madre. It’s a coming of age film about a teenager who lives in San Diego and goes to Mexico to explore his roots.

The film is being showcased in the festival.

“It’s a Mexican story told through American eyes so you're not really excluding anyone,” said Molina. “You’re actually including and bringing people into this world, into this culture.”

Even though San Diego’s art and film scene is often overshadowed by Los Angeles, Molina said the cultural scene is giving artists a chance to showcase their experience while also being part of the conversation.

“I think there's a lot of anger out there. There's a lot of miscommunication,” said Molina. “If there's anything that we can do as artists to bridge that, to kind of bring common ground, I think it's our obligation to do it,” said Molina.

He added, “With different people, personalities, temperaments, nationalities, you always have people with different opinions. I think the most important thing, what we take from all of this is that we try to develop an ear so we can listen to each other…maybe everyone just take a second and take a listen."

Organizers say the Latino Film Festival isn’t just about movies. There will also be food, workshops and music for moviegoers.

The Latino Film Festival will run until March 26 in Fashion Valley’s AMC Theatres.

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