Written by Mario Sanguinet
March 10, 2022
After being on COVID-spurred hiatus, and being unceremoniously canceled hours before it was set to kick off two years ago, the San Diego Latino Film Festival (SDLFF) is back for its 29th installment. This time the festival will span from March 10-20, 2022 at Westfield Mission Valley.
At the media opening in late February 2022, there were a lot of folks present, which was jarring to me after nearly two years of isolation. But it served as a great opportunity to speak with some of the filmmakers, writers, and producers whose work would be showcased over the course of the festival. It also helped me flex/get reacquainted with my social side.
These interviews were almost rapid-fire, so below are some of the highlights from the handful of creatives I spoke with and the projects they’re sharing with the world.
The evening started when I was fumbling with my belongings and trying to get my bearings at the venue. In doing so, I asked a couple how much of the venue was for the SDLFF media event. A few moments later they told me she was a co-writer and producer, and he was the director of “Divorce Bait.” This is their second entry at the SDLFF, their first one was in 2020 and they never really got to show it because COVID protocols closed down the festival.
Patrick Perez Vidauri, the director, describes their latest feature submission as “a comedy about a woman who pretends she’s getting a divorce in order to find out which of her friends will hit on her husband.” Cristina Nava, the co-writer and producer, mentioned she completed the first draft in around two weeks. They started shooting around Nov. 2020 in Los Angeles.
“We were considered essential workers so we could keep shooting. But the whole city was shut down. And we were, like, the only ones out? Nobody got sick. We’re very proud of that,” mentioned Nava.
You can watch “Divorce Bait” on Saturday, March 19 at 5:00 PM or Sunday, March 20 at 2:00 PM at AMC Mission Valley. More details here.
While my first conversation happened by chance, I was more intentional in seeking out the next one. So I spoke with Edwin Cruz, executive producer for “Del Manantial del Corazón.” This feature caught my eye because it’s about the experiences of Mayan Mestiza women and their upbringing at the intersection of different cultures.
The film is an adaptation of a stage play written by Conchi León who is a well-known Mexican playwright. Cruz noted, the film “addresses issues that are impacting Indigenous women down in Yucatan,”
Moreover, the film is a tribute to women and an exploration in discussing things we don’t usually talk about. “We want people to come out appreciating—really appreciating—women, and the sacrifice that they make,” said Cruz.
It accomplishes this by weaving the story about a mother who loses a baby, with another story about a mother whose child has Down Syndrome and another story about a woman experiencing domestic abuse. In an added layer of complexity, the story explores these themes as it moves across the years.
You can watch “Del Manantial del Corazón” on Tuesday, March 15 at 6:15 PM or on Friday, March 18 at 9 PM at AMC Mission Valley. More details here.
The next conversation I had was with Jordan Jacobo, head writer for the digital workplace comedy series “Sides.” As Jacobo told me, “It’s a digital series about a restaurant owner and the sort of rambunctious employee she has working under her and her efforts to sort of reel them in.” You can find the series on YouTube and each episode is under 10 minutes. So you can probably watch all 10 episodes in about an hour.
Jacobo claims to have “a near-encyclopedic knowledge of 80s and 90s sitcoms” which he taps into as a way of drawing inspiration for certain tropes, situations, and characters. However, “Golden Girls” stands out among them all because of the show’s ensemble cast and well-developed characters for all situations.
Unsurprisingly, having his work accepted at the SDLFF is a source of pride and joy for Jacobo. But it has special significance for him because he started attending the SDLFF when it first started in the late 90s and even volunteered to be a part of it.
Now Jacobo’s come full circle, “I always said, ‘Someday, I’m gonna have a project of mine in the festival.’ And now I finally do. So for me, this is a kind of the realization of a dream.”
My last conversation was with self-taught writer, director, and producer Christopher Piñero and we discussed his short horror film “Gone.” This was one of the more personal conversations I had with anyone that night and it’s largely because of the nature of Piñero’s film.
Piñero started with an earnest reflection, “So back in 2020, like a lot of people, I lost loved ones close to me. And, you know, I’m in my 30s and I had never experienced loss like that. And so this is all new for me.”
So to process the range of often conflicting and “terrifying” emotions he was experiencing, Piñero decided to create this short horror film. He was able to write it in one night, the night his grandmother passed away.
Unfortunately, as he was editing the film, his father passed away from COVID. Yet, this grief is what led to the process in the first place, and keeping that emotion at the forefront of his mind is what allowed him to create the final product.
You can watch “Gone” on Saturday, March 19 at 1:45 PM at AMC Mission Valley. More details here.
These are just some of the films and projects you can expect to see at the 29th SDLFF. The festival starts on March 10 and runs through March 20.