By Luis Monteagudo Jr.
One of San Diego’s premier entertainment events arrives this week with the opening night of the San Diego Latino Film Festival.
Now all grown up and in its 24th year, the festival begins Thursday night and unspools through an 11-day run at Fashion Valley mall. In addition to films, there will be appearances by filmmakers, workshops, live music, art exhibitions and gala celebrations.
But as always, the draw is the movies and this year there are 160 films from 20 countries.
San Diegans may be attracted to “Ruta Madre,” a Mexico/USA production about a young San Diego singer who leaves his home to embark on an epic road trip through Baja California with his no-good uncle. Along the way he rediscovers his Mexican heritage and bounces back from a breakup with his girlfriend. Featuring comedian Paul Rodriguez, the movie is scheduled to be screened three times during the festival.
San Diegans might also enjoy “Beyond the Crossfire,” a documentary by students from High Tech High Chula Vista about the effects of gun violence in our country. Viewers follow the students as they travel across the country to capture the stories of leaders in mental health, youth mentor programs, peer-to-peer counseling, and juvenile justice reform who are working towards reducing gun violence.
There is also “Califas,” which tells the stories of three groups of immigrants along the Tijuana-San Diego border.
The opening night film is “Una Cuento de Circo and A Love Song,” a romance directed by actor Demian Birchir about the twists of fate that separate and then reunite a man and his father. Set in a traveling circus, the film also features well-known Mexican actress Eva Longoria.
Different genres are represented throughout the festival.
For comedy lovers, “Y Los Tamales,” is from Honduras and follows a cab driver trying to pick up tamales on Christmas Eve for a family dinner and the assortment of odd characters and unusual adventures that threaten to sidetrack his mission.
Horror fans can gravitate toward “Ascension,” about demons battling a devil, or “Devastacion,” about a pandemic in Tijuana that brings about a post-apocalyptic society.
And if you need prefer thrillers, “112” follows an emergency dispatcher facing a life or death situation on Christmas Eve.
All the films will be screened at the Fashion Valley or at the Digital Gym on El Cajon Boulevard.
For information and tickets, go to 2017.sdlatinofilm.com.
Luis Monteagudo Jr. is a freelance writer and pop culture enthusiast who has attended Comic-Con for more than 20 years. He was written for The San Diego Union-Tribune, USA Today and numerous other publications.
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