Publicity photo for “Mi Familia.” Courtesy San Diego Latino Film Festival

You know a film festival is a success when it’s been around longer than some of the “retro” films it celebrates.

Such is the case with the San Diego Latino Film Festival, which marks its 27th year when it kicks off this  Thursday, March 12.

That means the festival has been around longer than one of the classic films it is highlighting — “Mi Familia,” director Gregory Nava’s ode to a Mexican family growing up in East Los Angeles. “Mi Familia” came out in 1995, a whole two years after the film festival began.

“Mi Familia” is being screened on Wednesday, March 18, at Bread & Salt in Barrio Logan as part of the festival’s Chicano Film Retrospective.

That is just one of the highlights in the action-packed 11-day festival, which begins with the opening night reception at Bloomingdales in Fashion Valley mall.

This year’s festival will offer more than 160 films from Latin America, the United States and Spain. Over the years, the festival has branched out into a celebration of Latino culture. Throughout the week, there will be Latin music concerts at the River Plaza Stage at the mall. And March 14 features the return of the annual Sabor Latino, a food, beer and wine festival for those wanting a little more than popcorn with their films.

Ah yes, the films. At it’s heart the festival remains a tribute to Latino films and the people who make them. This year’s entries range from short films and documentaries to dark political thrillers, love stories and searing takes on the hot-button political issues of our times.

“With the ongoing political divide surrounding ‘The Border Wall’ and immigration, the proliferation of authentic Latino perspectives is more meaningful now than ever, and the 27th edition of the San Diego Latino Film Festival is committed to giving filmmakers a platform to accomplish this,” said festival founder Ethan van Thillo.

For a schedule of the films, check the festival’s website at www.sdlatinofilm.com. Ticket information is also available at the web site or by calling (619) 230-1938.

Luis Monteagudo Jr. is a freelance writer and pop culture enthusiast. He has written for The San Diego Union-Tribune, USA Today and numerous other publications.

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