Lights, Camera, Acción!

By Catlin Dorset

For two decades, the San Diego Latino Film Festival has attracted the likes of America "Ugly Betty" Ferrera, John Leguizamo, Edward James Olmos and other Spanish-speaking stars. This year marks the festival's 20th anniversary, and organizers are promising mucho screenings and special events.

"Every night, you're looking at up to 12 feature programs on four different screens," says festival founder and executive director, Ethan van Thillo. "At any moment during the festival, you can see a different style of film or a film from a different country, so it really celebrates the diversity of cultures."

More than 150 films, shorts and documentaries will be shown March 7 to 17 at DigiPlex Mission Valley (formerly UltraStar Cinemas). A special selection of 10 groundbreaking works spanning the festival's colorful history includes:

• El Mariachi. The directorial debut of Robert Rodriquez led to two more films (Desperado and Once Upon A Time In Mexico), which are collectively known as the Mexican Trilogy.

• Central do Brazil (Central Station). This French-Brazilian drama from director Walter Salles tells the story of a relationship between a young boy and an older woman who earns a living writing letters for illiterate people.

• Todo Sobre Mi Madre (All About My Mother). This Spanish-French comedy/drama (by director Pedro Almodóvar; starring Penélope Cruz) deals with issues including AIDS, homosexuality and faith, and won the 1999 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

A screening of Selena will be shown offsite March 14 at the Full Moon Drive-In in Pacific Beach. Jennifer Lopez stars as the title character in the 1997 film about the late Tejano music star. The screening will be a tribute to late actress Guadalupe "Lupe" Ontiveros, who played the villain in Selena and attended the San Diego Latino Film Festival several times.

Note to gringos: all films will have English subtitles.

San Diego Latino Film Festival
March 7-17
DigiPlex Mission Valley
sdlatinofilm.com

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