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 →

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 →

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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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 on 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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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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AFI FEST 2017 opens Nov. 9 with Mudbound. Here are my Top Picks!


by Tom Nguyen

AFI FEST 2017 is one of the largest annual film festivals in Los Angeles and the only one of its stature that is free to the public. This year’s festival opens on Thursday, November 9, with the film MUDBOUND, about two families, one black, one white, in post-World War II Jim Crow South. With the rise of white nationalism and supremacy emboldened by Trump’s presidency, I think it’s an important and timely statement to open the festival with a film directed by a woman of color, Dee Rees, and set during one of the most disgraceful chapters in this country’s history. Read the insightful Variety interview with Rees about the challenges she faced as a black filmmaker in finding a distributor and support the film when it’s released by Netflix on November 17.

The festival features upcoming filmmakers from all over the world with 11 films in its New Auteurs section, 9 of which are made by women directors, and 11 films by independent filmmakers in its American Independents section. The World Cinema section features 30 films from 39 countries, 13 of which are official Best Foreign Language Film Oscar entries.

AFI FEST 2017 will also screen 2 animated films for public middle and high school students as part of their Youth and Family Programming. The program expands this year with AFI FEST Storytelling Bootcamp to guide underserved high school students in screenwriting and storytelling.

And if that wasn’t enough, there are Centerpiece Galas and Special Screenings and Short Films too! The festival closes on Thursday, November 16, with the world premiere of ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD, directed by Ridley Scott. 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 2017 with trailers. Be sure to secure your FREE tickets online starting on Wednesday, November 1! Tickets go FAST!

OPENING FILM:

MUDBOUND – Directed by Dee Rees and co-written by Virgil Williams and Rees, the historical period drama features cinematography by AFI Conservatory alumna Rachel Morrison (Class of 2006). The film stars Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan, Garrett Hedlund, Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Jonathan Banks, Mary J. Blige and Rob Morgan.

CENTERPIECE GALA:

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Find of the Week: SEAM Sci-Fi Short Film

by Tom Nguyen

One of my guilty pleasures is searching YouTube for sci-fi shorts to watch in my spare time, and I did plenty of it this past week, while in bed with the flu. Most are pretty mediocre and familiar riffs on themes that have been done before; which is why I was pleasantly surprised when I randomly happened upon “Seam”, and was instantly pulled into its world for the next 20 minutes: “In the not-too-distant future, a tenuous peace between humans and remarkably human-like “machines”—some don’t even know they’re not real—is tested when synthetics begin spontaneously exploding. A military-led search for these unwitting suicide bombers begins, sending a terrified machine woman and her human partner on the run.”

It’s rare to see a sci-fi film with a good combination of an original and compelling story with amazing visual effects…even rarer still to see one by filmmakers of color (written and directed by brothers Rajeev and Elan Dassani), taking place in the Middle East (mostly shot in Jordan), and featuring protagonists speaking Arabic (Israeli actor Oded Fehr and Jordanian actor Rakeen Saad). The film puts a different twist on the meaning of ‘suicide bomber’ and at its heart, is a love story about a couple devoted to each other against all odds. I would love to see the Dassani brothers fulfill their vision of turning their short film into a feature length movie. Watch the film below and go to their site to support their efforts.