2018 Spring Films Guide


by Tom Nguyen

Spring time is here in Los Angeles, and April into May are jam packed with film festivals and special screenings from Los Angeles to Long Beach to Orange County. Even for a film fanatic like me, it’s dizzying trying to keep track of so many! Foreign film festivals are particularly meaningful to me because they were always my way of exploring the world, when I had no money to travel abroad, and subtitled films are the only films I get to enjoy on the big screen with my friend and movie buddy, Morris, who is deaf. Special thanks to Wilki of WilkiIMAGE, the professional photographer who’s been covering LA’s film festival circuit for decades and always keeps me in the loop! Want to see Grace Jones in person introducing the new documentary on her life? Or go oapril 25n a romantic movie date, sipping chocolate margaritas while watching the classic Like Water For Chocolate? Then look at my guide to some of my favorite film festivals and special screenings happening, in order of opening dates:

HOLA Mexico Film Festival’s 10th Anniversary

April 5-May 24, 2018 at Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles and June 1-9, 2018 at locations TBA.
In celebration of HOLA Mexico Film Festival’s 10th Anniversary, the Festival will host free film screenings every Thursday – April 5 through May 24 – at the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles. As a look back at the Festival’s milestone 10 year history, each of the eight films featured in this series has been a notable Festival Opening Night selection. In addition, in the lobby of the cinema of the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles, there will be an installation showcasing the posters from the past nine years of HOLA Mexico Film Festival. These free screenings lead up to the 10th Annual HOLA Mexico Film Festival June 1-9!

Memories Of Underdevelopment (Memorias Del Subdesarrollo) – 50th Anniversary Screening

April 11, 2018 at Frida Cinema
The Frida Cinema is proud to partner with University of California, Irvine and the Bowers Museum – with the support of the the Humanities for All Grant made possible by California Humanities, UC-Mexus, and UCI Illuminations – on Latin American Studies in Motion, a series of cultural events, including four films presented at The Frida, which reflect Latin American history, culture, and recent social and environmental change. On Wednesday, April 11, join us for a very special 50th Anniversary Screening of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s 1968 classic Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias del subdesarrollo) – easily the most celebrated and well-known film from the Cuban Revolution. Screening will be followed by a presentation and Q&A with Raul Fernandez, Professor Emiritus of Chicano & Latino Studies, University of California – Irvine. Frida Cinema is Orange County’s only non-profit film theater and if you’re a Selena fan, come to their free screenings of SELENA on April 16, 1:30pm & 7pm, in recognition of what would have marked the 47th Birthday of the singer and icon.

16th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA)

April 11-15, 2018 at Regal L.A. LIVE
16th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles is the premiere platform for the latest in cutting-edge global Indian cinema and bridges the gap between the two largest entertainment industries in the world – Hollywood and India. The festival will showcase more than 25 films from the Indian filmmaking community across the globe, host the highly anticipated Opening and Closing red carpet Galas, and the Closing Awards ceremony. Opening the festival on April 11 is IN THE SHADOWS, starring Manoj Bajpayee in a tour de force performance as a reclusive shopkeeper who vows to rescue his young neighbor from abuse at the hands of his father directed by Dipesh Jain. Festival will close with the Los Angeles premiere of VILLAGE ROCKSTARS, one of the most lauded Indian films on the festival circuit in the past year. The film is directed by emerging Indian filmmaker Rima Das. The film, written, shot, edited and directed by Das, is a touching coming of age story of a ten-year-old girl in a remote Assamese village who dreams of buying a guitar and starting her own rock band.

Journey From The Fall and VIET STORIES: Recollections & Regenerations

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Buyepongo says Misogyny will not be tolerated after women fans groped at their show

by Tom Nguyen

[Buyepongo is about breaking down borders one dance floor at a time. Its about getting to know one another.. and yes it’s about shaking yo booty, How ever you want to get down!! We want to make it clear to all these foos that think they are gods gift to woman and think they can come and straight up disrespect a woman at our show.. fuck that!! We see you and we will approach you!! Last night we had a situation where 2 #buyeseras were touched and groped and without consent simply for the fact they allow him to dance with them. We want to say it loud and clear THAT WILL NOT BE TOLERATED AT A BUYE SHOW!! Even if its a friend , brother or even a Buye member they will get checked appropriately. And If you see this happening you gotta step up and protect our people!!! We love all woman and men!! And we want yall to come to our shows and feel free to do your thing but all ways be respectful and NO MEANS NO!!!! This conversation must happen so we can create a better future for our seeds. This has been a Buye service .. announcement. Con todo respeto y amor !!!! #fuckpatriarchy #buyangu]

Thank you Edgar Meshlee Modesto of Buyepongo for calling out the man who groped 2 of their women fans at their show this past weekend, and saying any behavior that disrespects and violates folks, will not be tolerated. He also importantly says, as men, we need to challenge and confront other men when we see this happening, instead of looking the other way and being bystanders. It’s an important issue many of us recently discussed at Art Making Party: Gear Up for Denim Day! led by Sumaq Alvarado-del Aguila of Peace Over Violence.

This kind of behavior happens so much at shows, that we’ve become so conditioned to ignore it….women learn to accept it as a reality of going out anywhere, men learn they can get away with it, because no other men are saying or doing anything about it. When is this going to change? When are each of us going to take a stand like Edgar? For my partner who is a survivor of sexual assault, for my niece who is growing up, I want to the the kind of man who doesn’t hesitate to call out misogyny and patriarchy. Shit like this is not harmless. It’s not boys being boys. You touch somebody without their consent, that’s assault…that’s violence. And it doesn’t matter who it is — we can’t give folks a pass just because they’re popular or well-connected. There has to be consequences for bad behavior. Edgar says he will check his own band members.

And that’s why you’ll never see Tropa Magica / Thee Commons events here…I’ve seen the 2 brothers harass and manhandle women many times and I won’t cover any misogynist bands, or give them a pass just because people expect rockers to be bad boys. No, just because you play in a band, manage a band, think you’re with the cool kids, doesn’t mean you get to violate and take advantage of folks. Support artists like Buyepongo, Earth Arrow and Weapons of Mass Creation who call out the bullshit that patriarchy is, and who absolutely demand that all folks are respected and safe at their shows.

And demand safe spaces where you spend your money! One venue where I see bad behavior tolerated all the time is Resident, where security is only outside checking IDs, but none anywhere inside. So, there are men who feel they can get as drunk as they want and act with impunity. And you feel like you have to act on your own with no backup…the one time I confronted a man who was groping women on the dance floor there, their security threw me and my partner Vanna Mae Art (people of color) out, and let the perpetrator (white male) stay. These spaces that profit from us absolutely bear a responsibility to ensure a safe space…hold them to it!

And we wouldn’t be having this conversation openly if the 2 brave women didn’t tell Edgar after the show what happened. Let’s talk about these issues openly instead of remaining silent. Have you had bad experiences or witnessed them? What can we do to protect one another better and respect folks’ space and safety at shows? On a bright note, a man I got into a physical confrontation with at La Cita Bar last year over his groping of women, approached me and apologized to me recently for his bad behavior. So, people can atone and change, but it starts with telling them their bad behavior is not to be tolerated.

Last Night at the Metro….

by Tom Nguyen

Last night at the metro, I saw a young couple getting physical while arguing, with the girl pushing the guy around. I wanted to say something but they seemed to settle down so I walked down to the platform, hoping they were resolving things.

Then the couple came down the platform, still arguing, and the young man was so distraught, he sat down at the edge of the platform, dangling his legs over the tracks, and sobbing uncontrollably.

I approached them and asked if everything was ok. It was a really tense situation, and a really belligerent man by the name of Javier Rodriguez, who’s a known bully in the building I live in, started making things worse by shouting and making accusations at the girl. I turned around and told him to mind his own business and to shut his mouth, because instead of deescalating the situation, he does what he always does, like in our building, always being aggressive and confrontational.

I sat down next to the crying young man, with my hand on his shoulder, and told him whatever was bothering him, we could talk about it, but the train was going to be here in a few minutes, and nothing is worth getting hurt over. It took a couple of minutes to console him, and eventually he let me take him over to sit on the bench.

Then 2 LAPD officers approached, asking us in an accusatory and aggressive manner why we were all standing off limits on the platform’s edge. I told the young man to stay quiet and that everything’s cool. They immediately threatened to fine us if we jumped the turnstiles without TAP cards and accused all of us of possessing weed and alcohol, saying they could smell it on us. Continue Reading →

L.A. Womxn Artists of Color reflect on Womxn’s History Month: Part 1

by Tom Nguyen

For Womxn’s History Month, I wanted to check in with womxn artists of color in Los Angeles who are doing important work in our communities of color and immigrant diaspora, advocating for social justice and using their artistry and voices to uplift, educate and empower.

Alice Bag, Dj Sizzle Fantastic, Faith Santilla, Gingee, Klassy, Jumakae, Maya Jupiter, Sri Panchalam of Doctors & Engineers, Xochi Flores of Los Cambalache — These radical womxn of color are outspoken and fearless in their arts & advocacy, and through their artistic expression and activism, have been tireless in their fight to smash systems of oppression and the patriarchy. I asked each of these powerful, radical womxn of color to reflect on these 3 questions:

– As you reflect on Women’s History Month, #MeToo movement and the current political climate, what do you feel are the most important issues facing you, both individually and collectively as a community?

– As a radical womxn of color and artist, how do you express and/or address these issues in your art & activism?

– What advice do you have for young womxn or advice you wish someone had given you?

I am so grateful for their time and willingness to share their insight, their work, and their inspiring advice for young womxn. There are many more amazing artists I hope to hear from too, so this is the 1st of what will be a continuing series.

If you know of an inspiring Los Angeles artist of color, who is speaking truth to power, through their artistry and activism, please send them my way in the comments below.

Alice Bag:

“I feel the need to combat the extreme misogyny and xenophobia coming from the White House. When you have a president that considers talk of grabbing women by the genitals acceptable, he’s setting the tone for the nation. There have also been numerous reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault, against him. I will call these allegations for legal reasons, not because I have any doubt of their veracity, especially since he has at times, boasted publicly of his actions. When you have that flagrant disrespect for women coming from the very top, it’s bound to affect what others, especially those who support Trump, view as acceptable behavior.”

“I think we need to resist, organize and provide a vision for a future where women are seen, heard and respected as equal members of society.”

“Aside from doing all the things that many of us do to push back, in terms of protesting, letter writing, making calls to representatives, etc. I volunteer with Girls Rock Camp. Helping young girls harness their power in their formative years is extremely satisfying. It makes me and everyone involved in these programs very happy. When I feel anger and dissatisfaction, I channel some of it into my music. In the past few months, I’ve released several songs that have helped me express my feelings post-election. The first one was Reign of Fear”, which is a call for resistance in which my band-mates and I get to shout “We reject your reign of fear!”. Midway through Trump’s first year in office, I needed a song that reminded me to take time to focus on the positive things in my life because I was feeling overwhelmed by the daily barrage of negativity coming from Washington. I also wrote a song called “Blueprint” about taking ownership of the structures we create. Whether we’re working on ourselves, our communities or our world, we are architects who have the power to create what we imagine.”

“Love yourself, treat yourself with kindness and compassion, give yourself positive affirmations. Nurture in yourself what you want to be able to share with the world.”

Photo by Greg Velasquez

Alice Bag is a singer/songwriter, musician, author, artist, educator and feminist. Alice was the lead singer and co-founder of the Bags, one of the first bands to form during the initial wave of punk rock in Los Angeles. The Alice Bag Band was featured in the seminal documentary on punk rock, The Decline of Western Civilization. Alice went on to perform in other groundbreaking bands, including Castration Squad, Cholita, and Las Tres. She has published two books, including the critically acclaimed memoir Violence Girl in 2011 (Feral House) and the 2015 self-published Pipe Bomb For the Soul, based on her teaching experiences in post-revolutionary Nicaragua. Alice’s work is included in the Smithsonian exhibition, American Sabor. Alice’s self-titled 2016 debut album received critical acclaim and was named one of the best albums of the year by AllMusic. Her second album, Blueprint, was just released in March 2018 on Don Giovanni Records. Upcoming event: Saturday, April 7, 2018, Alice Bag Record Release Party at The Echo.

Dj Sizzle Fantastic:

“As an undocumented queer womxn, the most pressing issues that continue to affect the lives of my community and by extent, mine, are rooted in xenophobia, racism, misogyny, displacement, borders, and family separation. Sadly, the current administration encompasses and uplifts said issues in its daily operations. Giving that much more power to rogue agencies such as ICE/Border Patrol/Police a.k.a Polimigra, and the government as a whole, the power to continue to further oppress and criminalize the bodies of womxn of color, immigrants, queer folks, and black and brown youth.” Continue Reading →

Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra Electrifies at the Belly Up!


by Tom Nguyen

Last night was an incredible show by Antibalas at the Belly Up in Solana Beach. My first time at this beautiful and historic venue was just last year, to see Salif Keita, and let me tell you a secret I’ve quickly learned: if an act is playing both in Los Angeles AND at the Belly Up, it’s worth the drive for me to see them here, because the sound is incredible and the stage is low, up close and intimate!

And in fact, why not see acts twice? After boasting to a gentleman next to me, that we’d driven 2 hours to be here, he told us he’d driven 3 hours from Moorpark! Brett says Antibalas is a “2 show band” — meaning if they play 2 shows in the area, it’s worth the drive, and he’s seeing them again at their Saturday Los Angeles show at The Regent!


I made the drive with Vanna Mae Art and DJ Glenn Red, who’s been coming to the Belly Up since 1996. We got there in time to catch the last few songs of Here Lies Man, a psychedelic rock group fronted by Marcos Garcia (Chico Mann) and whose percussionist Rich Panta, we know quite well from Very Be Careful. Chico Mann is also the rhythm guitarist in Antibalas, but with Here Lies Man, he gets to really showcase his vocals and rock guitar solos — it’s an audacious mix of what he calls “Afro Rock….What if Black Sabbath played Afrobeat?”   Continue Reading →

3 Powerful Videos premiere on International Women’s Day: Ruby Ibarra, La Misa Negra, Nakury

by Tom Nguyen

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll watch these videos that premiered on International Women’s Day 2018 and smash the patriarchy!

“US” – Ruby Ibarra, featuring Rocky Rivera, Klassy, Faith Santilla

Rapper Ruby Ibarra is joined by fellow Bay Area MC Rocky Rivera, Klassy from Echo Park and Los Angeles spoken word artist Faith Santilla for an explosive anthem on Pinay pride. Rocky Rivera says of of the video, “So proud to add my perspective on what it means to be PINAY. We are many shades of militant and we are not your FETISH. I hope lil bby Pinays look at this video and feel proud.” Ruby Ibarra recently played an amazing show at the Bootleg Theater to celebrate her debut album Circa91, and Faith Santilla and Klassy performed last week at AF3IRM LA‘s annual International Women’s Day rally & march (peep my live video).

“Dueña de Mi” – La Misa Negra

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Bombino Drops 1st Single off New Album “Deran” and plays Zebulon LA on July 17!


by Tom Nguyen

Tuareg guitarist and singer-songwriter Bombino from Agadez, Niger just announced his next album Deran, being released May 18, 2018, and you can listen to the new addictive track “Tehigren” and pre-order the album below.

The song is a fusion of Tuareg rock and reggae, which he likes to call “Tuareggae”: the first half in a slower reggae drum and bass, and then it finishes with his frenetic, blistering and masterful guitar riffs. According to a JamBase interview, Bombino says “The song is about my own struggle with being on the road all the time, away from my home. It is a nostalgic song, remembering the beauty of my home.”

The album was recorded in Casablanca, Morocco, and he has also announced summer tour dates in support of the new album. Bombino will perform at Zebulon LA on Tuesday, July 17th, 2018, and tickets go on sale Friday, March 9th. Be sure to get yours, because Zebulon LA has been booking incredible artists of the African diaspora and the show will sell out fast!

Interview: 18th Brazilian Carnaval features 2018 Rio Samba Champion, Kids Matinee and more!

by Tom Nguyen

The 18th Annual Brazilian Carnaval happens next Saturday, February 24, at Cafe Club Fais Do Do! This year features singer Neguinho da Beija-Flor, direct from Rio de Janeiro, and I was able to interview Brazilian Nites Productions founder, Patricia Leao, who has been putting on the faithful reproduction of Rio-style Carnaval for almost two decades in Los Angeles.


EnClave.LA: Congratulations on another successful year of Brazilian Carnaval! What do you have in store for us this year?

Brazilian Nites: Thank you! Exited to have yet one more traditional Brazilian Carnaval that will celebrate 18 years with the very special presence of the Samba Star of Carnaval – NEGUINHO DA BEIJA FLOR directly from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil…I would like to say directly from Marquez de Sapucai to be more precise…This is where all the samba schools of Rio parade for 2 full nights competing against each other, with over 3000 dancers per school, amazing floats and special themes. 

We have extended our event to a Kids Matinee Carnaval…after all Carnaval is for everyone in Brazil. This will be from 2pm-6pm and then 8pm to 2am is our Carnaval Party.

We also have a “Market place” that will have food, crafts, giveaways, etc.

So Fais Do Do has three areas that will all be turned into a Brazil for a day from 2pm to 2am! Continue Reading →

Top Picks for Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) 2018


by Tom Nguyen

The 26th Annual Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) takes place this Thursday, February 8 through Monday, February 19, at the Cinemark Rave 15 Theatres at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles, California. The festival is a crown jewel of the African American community in Los Angeles, the largest and most prestigious Black History Month event in the country.

It’s absolutely one of my favorite events of the year and must-see film festivals in Los Angeles. It’s the only opportunity to see so many independent films from the Black diaspora that might not otherwise make it to movie screens here. And it’s more than just a film festival…next door to the theater, inside Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, are 2 floors of fabulous art, crafts and vendors from all over the country.

PAFF has always been a platform for important discussions to inspire, nurture and elevate Black representation in filmmaking. In addition to the Q&As with filmmakers in attendance, PAFF launches a new #Talk4Reel panel series, featuring film industry and community figures, thought leaders and disruptors, for engaging talks you don’t want to miss! There is also a spoken word fest featuring Get Lit-Words Ignite!

The festival opens Thursday, February 8, with the world premiere of Love Jacked, a warm family comedy, and will close on Sunday, February 18, with the US premiere of The Forgiven, starring Forrest Whitaker, who portrays Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Spotlight Feature films include Behind the Movement, about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, King of Stage: The Woodie King Jr Story, about the legendary theatre producer who will be present to accept PAFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and Nothing Like Thanksgiving, about a dying businessman who tries to groom his replacement.

Here is my list of other great films I’m excited to see. The list is by no means exhaustive, because there are too many worthy films to choose from! You can find the full list of films here and daily schedule here. So this is where I will be movie-binging the next 10 days and if you’re a MoviePass member like I am, you can use it to see one PAFF film a day!

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Weapons of Mass Creation’s song ‘Hard to Admit’ addresses sexual abuse in our own communities

by Tom Nguyen

In an era where we have a president who got elected despite boasting about “grabbing p*ssy”, it’s been heartening to see at least some powerful men in entertainment and politics finally having to answer for sexual violence as women bravely come forward. I hope the media attention, national dialogue, and women sharing their #MeToo stories results in real policy changes and legal protections in every workplace against people using their powerful positions to sexually exploit others.

Besides the rich and famous though, where is the much needed spotlight and attention on the sexual harassment, domestic abuse, and violence that is happening everyday in our own communities? Julia Franco, of Weapons of Mass Creation, sings poignantly about her own struggles against sexual harassment in their latest video “Hard to Admit”.

Weapons of Mass Creation are outspoken in their music and one of my top local bands to watch — they sing about police violence, racism, and gentrification happening in our marginalized communities. And in “Hard to Admit”, Julia says on top of all the issues she has to contend with as a woman of color, self-care doesn’t mean hugs and kisses in a safe space…it means carrying mace and always being on guard against men in her own communities.

So let’s address and challenge the sexual harassment, misogyny and toxic masculinity that happens everyday in all the spaces we occupy. Women have been doing the work and leading the charge. Men, we need to step up and be accountable for our actions as well as challenging men around us when we see abusive behavior, and not being complicit and silent. Get involved and support the work of these organizations in our communities: Peace Over Violence, Justice For My Sister Collective (Julia’s older sister Hilda Franco is involved with JFMSC), AF3IRM, and TheRealTalkProject, which currently offers a self-paced course on how to be a better male ally.

Weapons of Mass Creation performs tomorrow Saturday, November 11, at Tropicália Music and Taco Festival, and “Hard to Admit” is the first of a series of live performances shot at Sanctuary Sound, a grassroots DIY community and performance space in downtown Santa Ana. Amidst the rapid gentrification of the area, the space is so vital and essential: “Sound is a safe space for dangerous sound. In the state of our communities the main stream considers our arts of expression dangerous. But this is not the reality. Our working class communities find amazing creative and ingenious ways to create expression from our experiences using art, music, dance and the power of power of our words.  Our mission is to give our communities a space to create and build their skills so they may be prepared to benefit from then in the world that is consistently taking from them.” Continue Reading →