Top Cultural Events in Los Angeles: March 15-21


by Tom Nguyen

Top shows this week: La Chamba‘s fundraiser show, Chico Mann & Captain Planet album release show, Ethio Cali‘s tribute to musicians who recently passed on: David Axelrod, Leon Ware, Doug Lunn, and hang player Manu Delago. Julieta Venegas, Gaby Moreno and Jungle Fire are playing in OC. Indigenous rapper ALAS & more are performing a benefit for Casa Solidaria del Sur and a very rare opportunity to see Shardé Thomas and the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band, playing fife & drum blues, a vanishing tradition directly descended from African slaves. Get your boogie on with Dinamita, Chulita Vinyl Club, Discostan, Chester Whitmore and The Floor Improv.

Last chance to see Confessions of an Arab Woman, and Chicanas, Cholas y Chisme’s Su Frida Calo at CASA 0101 and The Cruise at LATC open this week. March 16 is the anniversary of the killing of Latasha Harlins, and California African American Museum will have a discussion with Latasha’s aunt and original members of Black Lives Matter. Transgender activist and immigrant Bamby Salcedo will speak at CSULA followed by a screening of Raising Zoey. Mexika New Year at Mariachi Plaza, Native American Festival in Long Beach, A Week of French Language Cinema at Theatre Raymond Kabbaz, Santa Monica Airport and Montebello art walks.

MUSIC

La Chamba Go Fund Me Launch Party
La Cita Bar (Downtown)
Wed. March 15, 9pm, $10, 21+
After all these years, we’re finally dropping our full length album. It has been a struggle and a long road- we are done tracking and mastering 13 songs. We’ve made this far, but need your help to get our album entitled “Ecos De La Selva” finallly replicated and packaged. Please spread the love by helping us raise funds for our first full-length album. La Chamba W/ Zapoteca Roots (Deeply Rooted Sonidero Cumbia) & Dj Fresko
Dj Glenn Red, GetDown Collective DJS
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East LA Interchange: Diversity of Boyle Heights is a History Lesson for the Nation

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Xavi Moreno in East LA Interchange. © 2015 Photo by Chris Chew/Bluewater Media.

by Tom Nguyen

Boyle Heights, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, is so much deeper than how the community has often been portrayed. In Hollywood films, it’s the Latino community with intractable gangs glorified by graffiti along the concrete of the Los Angeles river, massive freeway interchange and bridges connecting it to downtown. When Boyle Heights makes mainstream news nowadays, it’s either in reference to a gang shooting or impending gentrification. What has been largely forgotten and what the documentary “East LA Interchange” seeks to restore and rightly celebrate, is its rich history of being LA’s most racially integrated and welcoming of communities. The history is one of a poor community of color that has historically been ignored or pushed aside according to the whims of those in power but it has always fought back. From coalition building by its different minority residents to elect the first Latino to LA City Council to the student walkouts against unequal education, the community has a long history and pride in resistance and empowerment.

Narrated by Danny Trejo, the film is the 9 year culmination of extensive research by filmmaker Betsy Kalin, with archival footage and interviews with historians and current and former residents, including notable people like will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas, LA Councilmember Jose Huizar and playwright Josefina López of CASA 0101 Theater. The film starts with the unprecedented global migration occurring in the early 20th century from upheaval and war, that resulted in immigrants from all over the globe finding their way to Los Angeles. Continue Reading →

Echo Park Film Center: Empowering Community through Affordable Filmmaking

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Story and Photos by Oscar Bautista

We all have stories to tell, no matter what our backgrounds are or what experiences we have had. It’s what makes us individuals and brings us together as people. Though we live in this world of constant social traffic, it doesn’t mean every voice has that platform and it especially doesn’t mean that every story is heard.

That’s why when I recently visited the Echo Park Film Center (EPFC) I was relieved to find a space and community dedicated to changing this state of communication. Walking through the busy cross street of N. Alvarado and Sunset, you may not even see it, but this hidden space is where individuals give back to the communities they call home.
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Film crew tweet slanders East LA community center upset about Eva Longoria’s Low Rider film

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by Tom Nguyen

What is it with film crews working in our downtown and East LA communities lately? I live in Boyle Heights where there have been film notices taped outside my building and late night filming multiple times this past month. On Thursday night, while I was helping a woman spread the word on Twitter regarding a security guard who harassed her on a downtown location for Hand of God, I came across this tweet from Film Crew L.A., a film crew union:

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Now, full disclosure, I know many people at Eastside Café, an autonomous, progressive community space in El Sereno, which is very committed and invested in the community, offering classes, workshops and socially conscious events. It’s where one of my favorite East LA bands, Las Cafeteras, got their start (and so named after the center) and I was last there on May 14th for a Free West Papua event. Since that time, I hadn’t known about this sign nor the movie, Low Rider, being filmed in the area. I forwarded the tweet to Eastside Café’s Facebook page, which quickly replied that they would write a response to this. I then tweeted some East LA media and community members for their thoughts: Continue Reading →

Black Cowboys in Compton: Help Preserve their Legacy!

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by Tom Nguyen

I just learned from a KCRW interview about a community of cowboys in Compton that is dying out. LA’s agricultural roots are still alive in the most surprising places. In the middle of the urban landscape of Compton, sits a community where people are allowed to ride horses in the streets and it’s one of the few neutral zones where youths from different gangs can set aside their differences. The cowboy club there has taught a lot of kids how to ride horses, to help keep them off the inner city’s mean streets. Unfortunately, with the ever increasing urban sprawl, this way of life is quickly disappearing and so too is the cowboy culture.

After a stable named the “Hill” burned down mysteriously a few years ago and the cowboys lost their main meeting place, the club has been in rapid decline. Documentary filmmaker Brett Fallentine has been documenting their way of life and attempts to rebuild the stable as a way to preserve their heritage. It’s a unique and forgotten part of LA history that can be traced to the Black cowboys on the American frontier and deserves to be told. But time is running out for his film titled Fire on the Hill!

Fallentine is funding the film with a Kickstarter campaign that only has until Saturday, March 21 to raise the last $10,000 needed! On the campaign page, Fallentine writes, “Everyone has a preconceived notion of Compton and South Central LA. I certainly did when I first met the Cowboys. Let me tell you that this film destroys all your expectations of this area, its people, and its heritage.” I just made a pledge and I hope you will too and please help spread the word by March 21!

Help Fund Jungle Fire’s Music Video by Sep. 27!

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One of our favorite LA bands, Jungle Fire, is having a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a short film inspired by their song Firewalker, by Saturday, September 27. The Afro Latin Funk band was touring UK, generating huge buzz and packing venues, when Alejo Restrepo and Roger Gonzalez, young filmmakers from Spain, caught them at a show in London. Inspired by the incredible music and energy of the band, they approached Jungle Fire about making a film that was both music video and short film, about how the band formed.

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Cambodia Town Film Festival this Weekend Sep. 5-7!

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by Tom Nguyen

I just attended the private filmmaker reception last night at Thunder Studios, an intimate pre-kickoff to the 2nd Annual Cambodia Town Film Festival, running this weekend at the Art Theatre Long Beach. In just its second year, the ambitious film festival returns with an eclectic lineup of films, celebrating Khmer cinema both here and abroad.

The reception was an opportunity to meet some of the filmmakers and the festival founders Caylee So and PraCh Ly took time to thank their team and sponsors, without whose support the film festival would not be possible. Many supporters, like singer Bochan, had flown from faraway to attend this weekend’s festival, featuring cinema you’re not likely to see anywhere else!

Tonight Friday, you can attend the official kickoff party at Sophy’s Restaurant, well known for its Cambodian cuisine. The organizers have transformed the interior of the restaurant into a jungle and members of Intradevi and others will be performing and spinning great music. Rumany and her electro-Khmer band, with their elaborate costuming and over-the-top stage presence, stole the show at the recent inaugural Cambodian Music Festival.

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Cry Now: Film set in Boyle Heights Premieres July 26!

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by Tom Nguyen

Cry Now, a new film directed by Alberto Barboza and produced by Cinético Productions, is premiering Saturday, July 26, 9:00pm, at the New Filmmakers LA Film Festival. The romantic feature film follows Vincent, an LA street artist, who falls in love with Luzy, a tattoo artist. Set in the culturally rich neighborhood of Boyle Heights, it’s great to see the eclectic Chicano music and arts community we love so much featured on the big screen for wider audiences!

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Fed Up about our Food: Interview with Stephanie Soechtig

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Fed Up
, a documentary which opened May 9 and is currently playing nationally, makes a provocative statement: everything we’ve been told about food and exercise is dead wrong. It’s a pretty bold statement and not made lightly. The film is the result of years of investigative research by director Stephanie Soechtig, who blew the lid open on the bottled water industry with her last documentary, Tapped, and the producers, journalist Katie Couric and Laurie David, producer of An Inconvenient Truth.

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Cesar Chavez a Timely Reminder the Fight Continues: Full Q&A with Diego Luna and UFW President


On March 7, 2014, there was a special advance screening of Cesar Chavez, the upcoming biopic about the civil rights activist and labor leader’s fight for farm workers’ right in California. The movie deftly weaves the chapters of Chavez’s long, hard struggle to organize immigrant farm workers, from the early 60s to the mid 70s. The movie hits all the important highlights of this often forgotten chapter in the Civil Rights era without ever feeling long-winded.

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