This international film festival amplifies Latino voices with movies that tell universal stories

With about 100 films in all sorts of genres, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival returns to the heart of Hollywood this month with movies that are meant to capture the human experience from a Latino perspective and stories that will resonate with audiences from all backgrounds.

“We really want and strive to create a program that’s really wide and really diverse so that we can serve the various tastes that every audience member may have. We want to offer something for everyone,” said Diana Cadavid, director of industry programs for the Latino Film Institute, organizers of the film festival, which takes place May 29-June 2.

Most of the festival will happen at the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood with a handful of films screened at the Regal L.A. Live. The festival includes features, shorts and animated films plus episodic works as well as panels, musical performances and awards.

The TCL Chinese Theatre will be the home for the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, which returns May 29-June 2. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images for TCM)

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival will close with thee world premiere of “Grassland,” written and directed by Los Angeles residents William Bermudez and Sam the TCL Chinese Theatre May 29. (Image courtesy LALIFF)



“I think what the festival projects and shows is that there is incredible talent within the Latino community both in the U.S. and outside the U.S.,” Cadavid said. “The festival reflects how more and more filmmakers, especially in the U.S. are finding their own voices,” she added.

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Co-founded by East L.A.-born actor Edward James Olmos in 1997, the festival is meant to showcase the best Latino tales from around the world with movies from countries such as Colombia, Costa Rica,  Mexico, Portugal, Spain and of course, the U.S.

“We bring films from Latinos from all over the world but we have a very important focus on U.S. Latino filmmakers. That’s a major and important part of our program,” Cadavid said.

The movies are coming from up-and-coming as well as established filmmakers.

“As an audience member you can come and enjoy the works of filmmakers that are in very different stages in their careers who are making films in very different genres,” she said.

The festival opens with “In the Summers,” directed by Alessandra Lacorazza, who is a New York-based queer Colombian-American writer-director and editor. It tells the story of sisters Violeta and Eva as they visit their reckless father whose battle with addiction culminates in a devastating tragedy.

“It’s a very moving film that exemplifies the talent of Latino filmmakers in general and how we can tell stories that are non-stereotypical and how we can have universal ways to look at storytelling,” Cadavid said. It won the Sundance Film Festival’s Best Director and Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic Film.

The festival will take its focus on U.S.-based Latino filmmakers to a hyperlocal level this year with its new LALIFF Eastside program, which includes four films by L.A. based filmmakers making their world premiere at the Regal L.A. Live.

The lineup is made up of movies like “F.L.Y.,” by Puerto Rican actor and writer Rafael Albarrán. The comedy follows former romantic partners Max and Rafael amid the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when the pair are quarantined under one roof along with Max’s new boyfriend, Hunter.

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“It’s hilarious but it’s also very moving and very well done. It’s an L.A. story,” Cadavid said.

The festival closes with the world premiere of “Grassland,” written and directed by Los Angeles residents William Bermudez and Sam Friedman.

Their movie looks at the criminal justice system from the point of view of a single Latina mother whose illegal marijuana business is in jeopardy when her young son befriends their new neighbors; a white boy and his police officer grandfather.

“It’s a very different film from the opening night. We definitely want to be able to show the different types of work that filmmakers are creating,” Cadavid said.

Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival

When: May 29 – June 2

Where: TCL Chinese Theatre, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., and Regal L.A. Live, 1000 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles

Tickets: $15 for single screenings, $75 for opening night and $750 for all access pass


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