Top Picks for Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) 2019

by Tom Nguyen

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday, July 31, 2019, with the opening night screening of The Infiltrators, followed by a gala, featuring two of my favorite local artists: La Mera Candelaria and Sizzle Fantastic of Cumbiaton.

Founded in 1997, this is the second year of the film festival, following a 5 year hiatus. Following opening night, the festival will screen feature films and short films by Latinx filmmakers, at TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood, from Friday, August 1, through Sunday, August 4. The festival will also present LALIFF Legacy, LALIFF’s free student festival, featuring films produced by students from elementary, middle and high schools, as part of the statewide, public school film program. The festival closes with the world premiere of The Devil Has A Name, directed by festival co-founder and iconic actor, Edward James Olmos.

In addition to the films, there will be live musical performances each night, with more of my favorite artists, like Jarina De Marco , who will be celebrating her debut EP Malcriada, Gemma Castro, and YANGA, plus art, episodics program and special events. Here are my top feature film picks for LALIFF (in alphabetical order):

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Top Picks for Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) 2019


by Tom Nguyen

The 27th Annual Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) opened on Thursday, February 7, and continues through Monday, February 18, 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. To “amPAFFify” PAFF’s proud history, the organization recently launched an “#IAMPAFF” Meme Generator, designed to allow festival supporters to share their own stories on social media. Festival supporters can join in the fun by creating a meme here to tell their story. There is also a spoken word fest on Saturday, February 9, from 7pm-10pm.

The festival opened Thursday, February 8, with Amazing Grace concert documentary at the Directors Guild of AmericaSpotlight Feature films include Sew the Winter to My SkinBoss: The Black Experience In Business, and The Robeson Effect.

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. #PAFFNOW is is where I will be movie-binging the next 10 days! Continue Reading →

My Picks for AFI FEST 2018


by Tom Nguyen

AFI FEST 2018 presented by Audi is one of the largest annual film festivals in Los Angeles and the only one of its stature that is free to the public. The 32nd edition of the festival runs from November 8-15, 2018, and opens on Thursday, November 8, with the film ON THE BASIS OF SEX. Directed by AFI Conservatory alumna Mimi Leder, the inspiring drama tells the story of young lawyer Ruth Bader Ginsburg before she became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.

The festival features upcoming filmmakers from all over the world with 18 films in its New Auteurs section, with 12 helmed by female filmmakers, and 10 films by independent filmmakers in its American Independents section, half of which are directed by women. The World Cinema section features 28 titles from 27 countries, 7 of which are official Best Foreign Language Film Oscar entries.

And if that wasn’t enough, there are Galas and Special Screenings and Short Films too! The festival closes on Thursday, November 15, with the world premiere of MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS. Directed by Josie Rourke and written by Academy Award® nominee Beau Willimon, the historical drama is based on John Guy’s biography, “Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart.”  The film stars Academy Award®nominees Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie.

There is something for everyone in this immense festival of films, and it can be pretty overwhelming deciding what to see — Here are my top picks for AFI FEST 2018. Be sure to secure your FREE tickets online! Tickets go FAST! Continue Reading →

My picks for 19th Annual Polish Film Festival (Oct. 17-25, 2018)


by Tom Nguyen

October is always teeming with great film festivals in Los Angeles! It’s as if all the cinephiles, like myself, suddenly needed a break from an overstimulating summer of competing activities, and cocoon ourselves inside a myriad of film screenings this month as a Fall transition. Next up: 19th Annual Polish Film Festival, which opened Wednesday, October 17, 2018, at Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, with a gala screening of Squadron 303, based on the true history of Polish pilots who shot down three times more Luftwaffe planes during the Battle of Britain than other Allied pilots.

The film festival continues through Thursday, October 25, at two primary venues: Laemmle Noho 7 Theatre in North Hollywood and Laemmle’s Monica Film Center in Santa Monica. There will also be free screenings at CSU Northridge and USC campuses and Hellada Gallery in Long Beach. Here are my picks (in order of appearance at the festival): Continue Reading →

Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2018 in Los Angeles & Surrounding Areas

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by Tom Nguyen

Here’s my roundup of Dia de los Muertos in and around Los Angeles. As I repeat every year like my first guide, please learn about and honor this respectful celebration of departed loved ones, an important tradition that goes back to indigenous roots, and not turn it into another culturally appropriated Cinco de Mayo.

By no means is this list complete — there are so many great Dia de los Muertos events all over Southern California, I couldn’t possibly list them all. Events below are ALL AGES and FREE, unless otherwise noted. Continue Reading →

My Picks for German Currents 2018


by Tom Nguyen

The 12th Annual German Currents Film Festival in Los Angeles, happens October 19-22, 2018 at the Egyptian Theatre. The annual festival features the latest German and Swiss cinema and is a co-production between of the Goethe-Institut Los Angeles and the American Cinematheque. This year’s festival kicks-off with a red carpet opening night LA premiere of director Arne Feldhusen’s tragicomedy MAGICAL MYSTERY OR THE RETURN OF KARL SCHMIDT, and will conclude with the US premiere of KREATUR by the renowned dance company Sasha Waltz & Guests, followed by an after-party at The Theater at Ace Hotel, co-presented with UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance.

Here are the films I’m looking forward to seeing, all of which are making their Los Angeles premieres: Continue Reading →

Viet Film Fest 2018: My Top Picks


by Tom Nguyen

After a hiatus in 2017, Viet Film Festival presented by the Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association (VAALA) is back this year! The 10th edition from October 12-14, 2018, at AMC Orange 30, will screen 30 films (13 features and 17 short films) from Vietnam, United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Czech Republic, Germany, and Malaysia. In this era of #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite, the film festival is proud that more than 50% of the films were either directed or produced by women.

The festival opens with Cao Thuy Nhi’s Summer in Closed Eyes (Nhắm Mắt Thấy Mùa Hè), a cross-cultural love story set in Hokkaido, Japan, that faced many challenges while being made, but has gone onto to become a critical and commercial success in Asia. The young Vietnamese and Japanese cast & crew will be in attendance to kick off the festival!

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Ten Films to watch at LA Film Festival 2018!


by Tom Nguyen

The LA Film Festival (LAFF), kicked off its 24th year last night and will continue through September 28, 2018. Produced by the nonprofit arts organization Film Independent, the festival aims to elevate the conversation about the lack of diversity and inclusion in front of and behind the cameras. For this year’s nearly 200 films, 42 percent of the directors are women and 39 percent are people of color, and there is a series of “We The People” panels, to discuss everything from #OscarsSoWhite to the #MeToo movement to improving inclusion in Hollywood. There really is something for everyone and I gravitate towards foreign cinema and documentaries, so here are 10 films I look forward to seeing at this year’s LAFF! Continue Reading →

Interview: GNL Zamba, Godfather of Ugandan Hip Hop, his Black Panther inspired Freestyle and forming duo NSIMBI with his partner

by Tom Nguyen

I met GNL Zamba and his partner, Miriam Tamar, outside a show in 2016, where they introduced themselves as being new to L.A. and thanking me for cluing them into the global music scene with my site. Little did I know that GNL Zamba is Uganda’s most well-known hip hop artist, and having never mentioned his background to me, my mind was blown 2 years later when he dropped this hot freestyle this past April!

So you know what they say…the real geniuses are the ones who don’t have to say much, but when they do, y’all better listen! And trust me, I’m listening now! Here’s an interview with GNL Zamba on what exactly Lugaflow is, how love led him to Los Angeles, and forming NSIMBI, a new duo, with his wife, Miriam Tamar.

EnClave: For folks outside Uganda and in LA who don’t know, can you tell us about Lugaflow and the hip hop scene in Uganda. How long have you been rapping and what got you started?

GNL Zamba: Uganda’s music scene is very vibrant and has been for a while but that wasn’t the case for hip hop. It wasn’t mainstream, with little respect and coverage. It wasn’t considered a favorite until 2008. That is when the game totally changed. I released an album called Koyi Koyi (Riddles of Life), which became the most colossal hip hop album in Uganda’s industry. The album was under the theme of indigenous pride (Lugafow), the album used traditional chants and which made the rhymes fun and relatable. I told stories of growing poor in Kampala. The genre got its new life from the Koyi Koyi album. I became a household name with fans of all ages and the sponsorships from corporate partners helped me cement Lugaflow (indigenous language flow) into an urban movement. My first concert that year had over 12,000 people at Kyadondo rugby grounds. Something that was unprecedented for a hip hop MC before. I was overjoyed.

EnClave LA: What brought you out here to Los Angeles?

GNL Zamba: Music, Film and a girl! I often reply haha! I met my partner in Uganda almost 6 years ago; she had been working to rebuild the post war community in northern Uganda. She had just ended her work and was transitioning into music when we met. We both loved culture and were both looking for a new voice to express ourselves and the community. We worked on edutainment songs for organizations under the ministry of health to sensitize the youth about safe sex and began performing on stages together.

We were in the middle of making a super band when a personal tragedy forced her to she move back to the states. I was hesitant to join her because I loved my Ugandan life and didn’t want to trade it. I visited often and saw her whenever I had a chance to perform in the U.S.A. Until I decided to get an 01 Visa and give L.A. a try. Now we are releasing our first project together as a hip hop world fusion duo in a few weeks. It will be called NSIMBI. Continue Reading →

EnClave’s Guide to Los Angeles 2018 Summer Events & beyond

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by Tom Nguyen

[Last updated: July 24, 2018] So Facebook broke my events calendar on this site. Long story short, I used to painstakingly and manually populate the calendar one event at a time, until there was a way for me to automatically import Facebook events directly to the calendar. If folks don’t know, there’s just one person behind this whole site (me!), and it was such a time saver. Well, in response to its recent data privacy scandal, Facebook closed up its system and I can no longer do that. So, no more calendar!

But calendar or no calendar, I’ve always loved putting out an annual list of summer events. What I noticed about other sites is they always put out a list of free summer concerts, or an “ultimate” list of summer events, that always excluded so many events in communities of color and immigrant diaspora — immigrant communities are still invisible in this global city.

So this is my list, and it doesn’t just focus on the free…there’s many nonprofits and other great performing arts venues putting out great cultural programming that shouldn’t be ignored just because you have to pay. Plus, not all worthy artists get selected for a very limited set of free summer concert series, so please support our hard-working local artists, visiting artists, grassroots producers and community organizations putting on events, on their own dime!

So if you only care about free concerts, read no further, and don’t even bother with those other lists…just go to socalsummerconcerts.com. I don’t know who puts that calendar together but it’s very convenient. Now if you do care about a wider range of summer events in LA, and you do care about supporting both local bands and venues who work hard to put on culturally relevant and important shows, then enjoy. I spent a good day initially putting this list together and I will never call it a complete or ultimate list…This list will be updated on a weekly basis, as I find out more events throughout the summer. I’ll also go back and add highlight videos from my Instagram so you can see what you missed out on! (If you’re not following me on Instagram, you should…many events and last minute announcements are only posted on Instagram these days…the millennials don’t use Facebook anymore!). And if you want a reminder of more awesome upcoming events as well as ticket giveaways to many of these shows, subscribe to our newsletter!

Thank you to organizations and event producers like Hollywood Bowl, Ford Theatres, Grand Performances, Pasadena Playhouse, Brazilian Nites, Nance Arte Productions, Go As If Productions who pay me and my street team CultureGap.LA to promote their shows and get featured here on my site — thank you for helping to keep the lights on and this labor of love going! If you have a worthy event that you would like featured on this list, my site, newsletter and social media, contact me. I hope to see you at a stage this Summer into Fall (aka L.A.’s late summer!).

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