Academy Award®-nominated actor Edward James Olmos unveiled the program that will be featured at the 2019 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) which runs Wednesday, July 31 through Sunday, August 4 at the TCL Chinese Theatres. This year’s program includes 15 features, 17 shorts, five episodics, two special events and two Latinx podcasts live from the festival.
The 2019 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival will open with Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera’s The Infiltrators, which won the Audience Award: NEXT and The NEXT Innovator Prize at Sundance earlier this year. The film, a mixture of documentary and narrative, focuses on a real-life rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – that get deliberately detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center. The film is a suspenseful telling of this high-stakes mission – a little-known chapter in American activism, and a rare insider experience of a for-profit immigrant detention center, an institution that is rapidly expanding across the American landscape.
“The Infiltrators represents everything LALIFF aspires to be – a film for our U.S. community by our U.S. community with international ramifications,” said LALIFF co-founder Edward James Olmos. “The film was made by a Latinx duo and focuses on the real-life story of undocumented youth that sacrificed everything to help others like them being held inside migrant detention centers. Nothing can be more timely.”
The festival program is comprised of 15 feature films including three World Premieres, with ten of the features helmed by women. In addition to The Infiltrators, the section includes Building the American Dream (directed by Chelsea Hernandez), Carlos Almaraz: Playing with Fire (directed by Elsa Flores Almaraz and Richard J. Montoya), Councilwoman (directed by Margo Guernsey), De Lo Mio (directed by Diana Peralta), Divine Love (directed by Gabriel Mascaro), the World Premiere of I’ll See You Around (directed by Daniel Fermin Pfeffer), Initials S. G. (directed by Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia), Midnight Family (directed by Luke Lorentzen), Pahokee (directed by Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan), Premature (directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green), the World Premiere of Raúl Julia: The World’s a Stage (directed by Ben DeJesus), Sick Sick Sick (directed by Alice Furtado), the World Premiere of Siqueiros: Walls of Passion (directed by Lorena Manriquez) and The Sharks (directed by Los Tiburones and Lucia Garibaldi).
The program also includes a shorts program comprised of 17 shorts including four World Premieres and five episodics, plus two special events, Latinx in Animation: A Masterclass and Sneak Peek: Latinx TV. Latinx in Animation: A Masterclass will feature some of the most influential creators and producers of upcoming animated projects discussing their influences and how their unique perspectives help bring their projects to life. The discussion will be moderated by Remezcla’s film and television editor, Vanessa Erazo. Sneak Peek: Latinx TV will give the audience a preview of two highly anticipated TV shows, The CW’s Two Sentence Horror Stories and Netflix’s Gentefied. Written in part by some of the most exciting new Latinx voices in television today including Stephanie Adams-Santos, Linda Yvette Chavez and Marvin Lemus, the event will be moderated by Gadiel Del Orbe from BuzzFeed’s Pero Like and is presented by Stage 13.
Additionally, there will be two live podcast conversations from the festival, Latina Representation Podcast and Latinx Podcast. The first on TV Latina representation features Locatora Radio, with hosts Diosa Femme and Mala Muñoz, both who are podcast trailblazers in the Latinx community. They will lead a conversation on Latina representation on television with TV writer, Moises Zamora, creator of the up-and-coming Netflix series, Selena, and writer/director Aurora Guerrero. The second, Latinx Podcast, is focused on media criticism by Espoilers Podcast, featuring hosts StephOH and Rubén Angel. They will lead a conversation on Latinx coming-of-age stories with TV and film writer, Eddie Gonzalez, co-creator of Netflix’s hit TV show, On My Block.
LALIFF will also offer special screenings including Les Blank’s Chulas Fronteras (1976), marking the Los Angeles premiere of the 4K restoration, and a screening of Ascent of Weavers, 3-channel video piece a by artist, Rebeca Mendez as part of LALIFF Art.
LALIFF Legacy, LALIFF’s student festival, returns for its second year. LALIFF Legacy will feature films produced by students of the statewide, public school film program, the Youth Cinema Project, which was also founded by Olmos. This two-day event is presented by CAA and HBO COLLABS, and will feature 93 student produced short films, along with 30 student filmmaker panelists, who range from elementary school, middle school and high school students.
2019 LALIFF Program
Building the American Dream – Three immigrant families facing the deadliest working conditions in the USA, rise up to seek justice and equality in the Texas construction industry. Directed by Chelsea Hernandez (USA)
Carlos Almaraz: Playing with Fire – This stunning documentary explores the brief, rich, and contradictory life of the artist Carlos Almaraz: a Chicano activist, sexual outlaw, and visionary painter of some of the most unforgettable images of southern California. Directed by Elsa Flores Almaraz & Richard J. Montoya (USA)
Councilwoman – A hotel housekeeper has won a City Council seat in Providence, RI. Energized to advocate for low-income workers, her stamina for politics is put to the test. Directed by Margo Guernsey (USA)
De Lo Mío – An achingly alive look at cherishing the past while learning to let go. Directed by Diana Peralta (USA)
Divine Love – Brazil, 2027. A deeply religious woman uses her position in a notary’s office to advance her mission to save struggling couples from divorce. Whilst waiting for a sign in recognition of her efforts, she’s confronted with a crisis in her own marriage that ultimately brings her closer to God. Directed by Gabriel Mascaro (Brazil/Uruguay, Chile, Denmark, Norway, Sweden)
I’ll See You Around – Lucas struggles to break the cycle of addiction gripping his family and risks losing everyone he loves if he can’t learn to forgive. Directed by Daniel Fermin Pfeffer (USA)
Initials S.G. – Down on his luck, an aging Serge Gainsbourg wannabe struggles with an acting career he can’t seem to get on track, an affair he doesn’t want, and a crime he didn’t mean to commit. Directed by Rania Attieh & Daniel Garcia (USA/Argentina/Lebanon)
Midnight Family – In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. Directed by Luke Lorentzen (Mexico)
Pahokee – In a small agricultural town in the Florida Everglades, hopes for the future are concentrated on the youth. Four teens face heartbreak and celebrate in the rituals of an extraordinary senior year. Directed by Ivete Lucas & Patrick Bresnan (USA)
Premature – The summer before she leaves for college, Ayanna meets handsome and mysterious outsider Isaiah; her entire world is turned upside down as she navigates the demanding terrain of young love against a changing Harlem landscape. Directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green (USA)
Raúl Julia: The World’s a Stage – Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage examines the life and career of the inspiring entertainer, Raúl Juliá. The feature documentary is a revealing portrait of the charismatic actor, who earned recognition across the world for his versatility on stage and on screen before his life was tragically cut short. From his early days on local stages in Puerto Rico to stardom on Broadway and in Hollywood, Raúl’s story is one of passion, determination, and a bit of magic – all qualities for which his performances were known. Directed by Ben DeJesus (USA)
Sick Sick Sick – Silvia and Artur’s teenage-romance starts abruptly and ends up all of sudden after a serious accident. Silvia gets sick and her days turn into dark. Her mourning becomes an obsessive quest to bring him back to life. Directed by Alice Furtado (Brazil)
Siqueiros: Walls of Passion – A documentary film about revolutionary Mexican visual artist David Alfaro Siqueiros (1896–1974) and the resurrection of his Los Angeles mural AMÉRICA TROPICAL, located at the birthplace of Los Angeles and later championed by the Chicano movement as a symbol of its oppressed culture. Directed by Lorena Manriquez (USA)
The Inflitrators – A rag-tag group of undocumented youth deliberately get themselves detained in order to infiltrate a shadowy for-profit detention center. Directed by Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera (USA)
The Sharks – While reports of shark sightings create panic in a small beach town, 14-year-old Rosina begins to circle her own prey as her intense attraction to an older co-worker grows. Directed by Lucía Garibaldi (Uruguay/Argentina/Spain)
And the Brave Shall Rise – Rooted in the newfound strength of a movement led by stay-at-home moms, one woman decides to run for office in a grass-roots effort to honor her son and family. Directed by Adam Schlachter. (USA)
Chalino – Inspired by the life, music, and murder of Chalino Sanchez, an immigrant in Los Angeles becomes an international sensation as the King of Narco Music. Directed by Michael Flores. (USA)
Chicle (Gum) – An ill-tempered teenager attempts to find peaceful solitude on the day of her grandfather’s passing until an estranged friend pays her a visit. Directed by Lizette Barrera. (USA)
Cuco “Hydrocodone” – Hydrocodone is a music video dedicated to the memory of our past selves and the longing of who we have yet to become as we grow older, visualized as an abstract journey through a young man’s (Cuco’s) experiences when confronting death. Directed by Jazmin Garcia. USA.
Figueroa – When his younger brother loses a fight, a teenage boy tries to teach his little brother about manhood, only to face an event that threatens to shatter their world altogether. Directed by Victor Hugo Duran. (USA)
Little con Lili – LILI, is a 10-year-old Cuban-American girl who should be doing her homework, but instead, decides to enjoy a leisurely afternoon, home alone, eating all her favorite foods, and listening to her favorite band, Air Supply. Directed by Gabriela Garcia Medina. (USA)
Pozole – When Maia sets out to reconnect with her traditional Mexican roots on her Nana’s 100th birthday, things go terribly wrong. Directed by Jessica Mendez Siqueiros. (USA)
Raptor – Ariel gets involved in a teenager civil arrest of a guy is accused of stealing a phone. Directed by Felipe Gálvez. (Chile)
Sebastian – An emigrating father writes home to his son. Directed by Sam Fragoso. (USA)
Simon Cries – Simon, wrecked by a love sorrow, overflows with sadness. Directed by Sergio Guataquira Sarmiento. (Belgium)
Skaya – Sergio Ramirez builds a basketball and academics program that empowers a generation of kids in the north western mountains of the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Directed by Gabriel Noquez. (USA)
Suicidrag – The Mexican group of drag queens Suicidrag streak the streets and nightclubs of Mexico City to raise awareness about the gender stereotype imposed by the consumer society. (Mexico)
The Bell – A young woman in El Salvador wishes to hear the village bell before she joins a caravan to the US, but the antique bell hasn’t rung in 25 years and there is only one man left that can repair it: a drunkard that lives in the cemetery. Directed by Michael Flores. (El Salvador)
The Bony Lady – Arely Vazquez, an immigrant and transgender woman, overcomes prejudices and breaks tabus as she fulfills her vows to the Skeleton Saint. Directed by Adriana Barbosa. (USA/Brazil/Mexico)
To Be Queen – In Luling, the “toughest town in Texas”, two Latina high school girls compete to be the next watermelon thump queen. Directed by Farihah Zaman & Jeff Reichert. (USA)
Unlucky’s Luck – On his 63rd birthday, Pellito receives a ticket for the Fortune’s Raffle, an almost surreal lottery that comes into town. Directed by Felipe Holguin Caro. (Colombia)
Water Warrior – Water Warrior is a short film about Latina surfers and why seeing yourself in the sport you love matters. (USA)
South of Sunset: Fake Mexicans – After an Executive tells Mexican-American writer DJ Banks his writing isn’t authentic, and with the help of his comedic cousins, DJ sets his day on rediscovering his cultural authenticity by re-connecting with an old Mexican-American lady friend that ends up in disaster. Directed by David Tripler. (USA)
Stoned Breakups – Writer Daniel f. Pérez gets really high and opens up about a tragic east coast romance and breakup as a group of sober comedians reenact it. Directed by Benjamin-Shalom Rodriguez. (USA)
THE BIBLE: The Sacrifice of Isaac – An extremely Biblically accurate retelling of the Binding of Isaac. Directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp (USA)
Unimundo 45 – When the anti-immigrant candidate wins the presidency, a jaded Latina news producer sheds her cynicism and reconnects with her suppressed activist side—on live TV. Directed by Thembi Banks. (USA)
Werq the World: Valentina – Werq the World: Valentina follows the enigmatic Miss Congeniality (or fan favorite) of RuPaul’s drag race Season 9 as she tries to keep up with the fast pace and intense hustle of an international tour. Directed by Jasper Rischen. (USA)
Latinx in Animation: A Masterclass featuring panelists Pilar Flynn, the producer of Avalor, Miguel Jiron, the director of Spider-Ham: Caught in a Ham and Story Artist for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Niki Lopez, the creator and producer of Santiago of the Seas, Silvia Olivas, executive producer and head writer of Maya and the Three and Eric Robles, co-creator and executive producer of Glitch Techs, moderated by Vanessa Erazo, film and television editor at Remezcla. This animation masterclass will reveal the influences behind these talented artists, writers and creators, and how their unique perspectives help bring their projects to life.
Sneak Peek: Latinx TV with Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chavez, the co-creators of Netflix’s Gentefied and Stephanie Adams-Santos, the writer for Two Sentence Horror Stories on the CW, moderated by Gadiel Del Orbe, the digital content creator of Buzzfeed’s Pero Like. This panel is presented by Stage 13.
Latina Representation Podcast with Latinx podcast trailblazers, Locatora Radio, featuring hosts Diosa Femme and Mala Muñoz. They will lead a conversation on Latina representation on television with TV writer, Moises Zamora, creator of the up-and-coming Netflix series, Selena, and writer/director Aurora Guerrero. Latinx Podcast focused on media criticism by Espoilers Podcast, featuring hosts StephOH and Rubén Angel. They will lead a conversation on Latinx coming-of-age stories with TV and film writer, Eddie Gonzalez, co-creator of Netflix’s hit TV show, On My Block.