San Diego arts films
“Fantasma Neon,” a short film from Brazil. Photo credit: Screen shot, YouTube

The 29th San Diego Latino Film Festival, beginning Thursday, features a variety of different films that depict local stories and those from far afield too.

The documentary, Pepe Serna: Life is Art, premieres on Opening Night at 7 p.m. Produced by Edward James Olmos, the film offers veteran character actor Serna’s take on his life, in his own words. Serna, 77, who has appeared in memorable films including Scarface and The Jerk, is expected to attend.

More than 200 other shorts and features, with entries from the U.S., Mexico, Central America and Spain, are set to screen at the festival, which continues through March 20 and includes a virtual slate as well.

Some entries, like La Caja and Los Guardianes del Maíz, represent filmmaker partnerships between the U.S. and Mexico.

Features from Mexico include Efímera, Dos Estaciones and Oliverio y la Piscina. U.S. entries include Divorce Bait, Mud Frontier: Architecture at the Borderlands and Richochet.

Local filmmakers are involved with Richochet, a documentary about the trial of an undocumented immigrant for an infamous San Francisco fatal shooting. For other entries with a San Diego-Tijuana flavor, try:

  • Kitchenistas – about a group of National City women who mentor, advocate and develop a sisterhood to bring high-quality food and cooking into homes and schools.
  • Del Manantial Del Corazon – tells three stories about the life and experiences of Mestiza women, shaped by both Catholic and Mayan traditions.
  • Desde La Esquina – features boxing legends, referees, managers, judges and promoters from the border who explain how a boxing movement started in Tijuana, with trainer Romulo Quirarte at its heart.
  • La Recua – The Mule Train Pack – depicts how Darío Higuera Meza, a saddle maker in Baja California Sur set out to honor the memory of “los arrieros”– the muleteers of Baja’s donkey pack-trains.
  • Inner City Legend – a short about legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach documents how he crossed paths with Scrappy Ramirez, on his way to becoming a professional boxer.

Individual screenings cost $12 – in-person they take place at AMC Mission Valley 20. All-access passes start at $225.

In addition, special events during the festival include the Migrant Voices Today competition, at 7 p.m. March 15, and on March 19, Youth Visions, a screening of shorts at 2 p.m., along with the Sabor Latino food, beer and wine fest, at 1 p.m.