HillcrestBlog by "San Diego News Service" (619) 757-4909

"San Diego News Service" covers hard news, features and reviews for local and national print media, and maintains, "HillcrestBlog." Address: 3907 Georgia St., #15, San Diego 92103-3548. Our editor is Leo E. Laurence, J.D., Copy Ed.: Martin Brickson. Member: Society of Professional Journalists, Latino Journalists of California. Call news tips to (619) 757-4909 (days), Nights: (619) 220-8686 (fax also). leopowerhere@msn.com Copyright 2008 by San Diego News Service

Sunday, March 15, 2009


by Leo E. Laurence

Mission Valley -- With four screens and 161 films, the Latino Film Festival underway now in the UltraStar Cinema in the Mission Valley Hazard Center literally has something for everyone: drama, comedy, animation, Cine Gay, and shorts from all over Latin America, Spain, Peru, Chile, Columbia, Argentina, Mexico and the U.S.

"The economy isn't affecting us that much," says founding executive director Ethan van Thillo. "We are having great crowds every day."

"It started as a student film and video festival, primarily focusing on Chicano and Latino student work from the U.S., Spain and Latin America," explained van Thillo. There was only one screen at a Horton Plaza theatre.

"Now we have four screens and 161 films and are growing every day," he added.

Half of the $250,000 annual budget of the Media Arts Center in Golden Hills which produces the film festival comes from ticket sales. The attendees are key. Tickets cost only $9.50 general admission and $7.50 for students, seniors, the disabled and the military.

Surprisingly, one of the most outstanding films screened in this year's festival is in its special program, Cine Gay. International gay films rely much less on nudity and sex than do those produced in Hollywood.

In a dramatic "coming out" story called Fuera de Carta (Coming Out by Card), an older, flaming queen who owns and operates a nice restaurant in Spain. Everything is going well for Maxi (Javier Camara), an openly Gay and highly respected chef until his ex-wife drops off their two young children and pressures from work begin to haunt him.

There is little sex and nudity, but lots of pure drama and powerful acting. There are the a flaming queen and his HOT, young, soccer-player boyfriend; plus the usual homophobics. Maxi is estranged from his teenage son, but tears will come to your eyes as they re-discover love and each other.

All the movies have excellent English sub-titles.

If you want to get away from the usual Hollywood are of guns and explosions in every film, and want to see fantastic cinematography and great drama, go to the UltraStar Cinema in the Hazard Center at I-163 and Friars Road for the Latino Film Festival.
Copyright by San Diego News Service, 2009, (619) 757-4909


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