Categories: THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: The San Diego Latino Film Festival At Mid Mark

By Rebecca Romani

March 19, 2019

It’s mid-week for the 2019 San Diego Latino Festival, and if you wonder if you missed too much, some of the best screenings are yet to come.

Part of the San Diego Latino Film Festival are special showcases that vary every year. Two of this year’s special showcases, an actor tribute and iconic Latino classics are not to be missed events.

This week is very much Damian Alacazar’s week; the “Narco” actor is being recognized in a tribute that includes three of his most beloved films. A highly esteemed Mexican star of film and screen as well as a clear festival favorite, Alcazar will be on hand for each of the screenings. The tribute opens with his quiet but intense hit, “La Delegada Linea Amarilla “(“The Thin Yellow Line”), 2015, about a one-time construction foreman forced to work on painting crew, painting a remote stretch of road in Mexico.  Alcazar’s hit film, “Magallanes,” a dark film about a Peruvian taxi driver who encounters a woman whom he once loved when he was fighting insurgents against the government. The only problem is, Magallanes is the driver for the colonel who once held the woman captive. What Magallanes does next has made the film a favorite with audiences both in Peru and at past San Diego Latino Film Festivals. The final film, “Eddie Reynolds y Los Angeles de Acero,” is a satirical romp through the past glory days of the Mexican rock and roll scene through the eyes of a would have been rocker. The final film screens on March 20th.

It’s been 25 years since Mousie and Sad Girl ran the streets of Echo Park in Alison Anders’ film, “Mi Vida Loca, ” but the Chicana-centered film still carries itself like the modern cult classic  that it is.  This year, “Mi Vida Loca” is part of the Tesoros Showcase and the centerpiece in a special screening being held at the Barrio Logan artspace, Bread and Salt.

“It’s a modern classic,” Moisés Esparza, SDLFF Exhibitions Manager told Vanguard Culture. Esparza said he was especially pleased to be bringing the beautifully shot film about young Cholas negotiating their lives in pre-gentrified Echo Park to Barrio Logan because the Barrio has long been a cultural center of local and Southern California Chicano life with its rising arts district and nationally recognized murals of Chicano Park.

The Wednesday evening screening (March 20th) is a by-donation fund raiser for the Media Arts Center’s Education programs, and Esparza suggests those who want to attend get their donations in soon as the event is generating a lot of interest. The event will include not only the screening, but a number of the cast members as well.  Also in attendance will be various artists, members of the La Vuelta Barrio Logan Car Cruise with various low rider cars, and music by the Chulita Vinyl Club. The all ages event opens its doors at 5:30.

The shorts programs are still on screen as the festival moves towards midweek. Not to miss are the Frontera Filmmakers Shorts- with the border front and center these last few months, these shorts take a local look at issues as diverse as patrolling the border, local artist Mario Torero’s public art at UCSD, and La Faraona, a headless dancer.

One of the most beautiful and unusual films of the festival screens Wednesday night. Set in the Peruvian Andes, “Retablo” is a gorgeously shot film about art, struggle, love, and community mores. The story is told through the eyes of Segundo, the 14 year old son of a master retablo- or devotional story boxes- maker.  Seen through frame within frames and wide vistas, “Retablo” is a slow reveal which passes from idyllic family tableaux to tragedy to ragged redemption when Segundo inadvertently discovers his father sharing a moment with another man. For Segundo, this begins a slow unraveling of what he thought was his world, but when the villagers catch his father with a male lover, his world explodes and he must decide what is more important to him, his father, or the village. This isn’t the easiest film to watch, but the richness of its subtle portrayal marks it as a stunning film. What makes it rarer still is that the dialogue is primarily in Quechua, one of Peru’s indigenous languages.

Also coming up is one of the most intriguing questions of the festival, how did a nice girl like Henrietta Boggs from Alabama end up a fiery revolutionary in Costa Rica? “First Lady of The Revolution” has the answer to all that and more.  The documentary traces the rise from college girl on vacation to First Lady of Costa Rica, and beyond. Henrietta Boggs, went on vacation in 1941 to visit an aunt and uncle in Costa Rica and never looked back after falling in love with Jose Figueres Ferrer Together, they would change the destiny of Costa Rica, leading it to democracy and giving women the right to vote. Told through interviews with family, friends and Boggs herself, the documentary takes a frank look at a little known chapter in Central American history.

Looking for a little lighter piece? Try “Diamantino,” from Brazil, which won the Cannes Critics Week prize last year. An international soccer star, Diamantino loses his status when his knees collapse, forcing him to forsake the game he loves.  To help him get over it, he adopts an orphan from Mozambique (who is really a spy for the Portugese government), runs afoul of his evil twin sisters, and somehow ends up with a lot of puppies as big as buses. Described as a frothy film of fun, sci-fi inflected satire, “Diamantino” is a charming romp through surreal situations and insightful commentary, that well may become a fixture on the cult film circuit soon.

And that’s just mid-festival. 

More unusual and compelling films are screening over the weekend with festival awards being handed out on Saturday.

For information on tickets and screening times, please see

Vanguard Culture

Vanguard Culture is an online media entity designed for culturally savvy, socially conscious individuals. We provide original interviews and reviews of the people, places, and events that make up San Diego’s thriving arts and culture community, as well as curated snapshots of the week’s best, most inspiring and unique cultural and culinary events. We believe in making a difference in the world, supporting San Diego’s vibrant visual and performing arts community and bringing awareness to important social and community causes.